We wrote an article before to teach you how to repair a flat tire. Of course, a pump is an important tool in the repair process. How should you choose a pump?
A bicycle rider should always be prepared to pump up a flat tire or simply to top off their tire pressure. You'll probably need a bike pump for your home and another one for your bike.
All bicycle tubes use either Presta or Schrader valve stems. Another option, Dunlop, is rare in the U.S. but can be found on some bikes internationally.
A bike pump can handle either type of valve. If you are shopping for pumps, just be aware that lower-priced pumps may require you to use an adapter to fit one of the valve types. Others will adjust automatically to fit either Presta or Schrader valves without adapters.
These heavy-duty, leave-at-home pumps are ideal for garage and bike shop use. These pumps offer high-capacity air-filling power (some models can inflate up to 220 psi/10 bar) for a variety of tasks in addition to inflating tires, and they can handle more demanding tasks than many smaller portable pumps can. The majority have large, built-in gauges for easy pressure reading.
Floor pumps are your fastest and safest pump option.
Designed for road cyclists, these pumps attach directly to the frame (normally under the top tube) without the extra mounting hardware needed by mini-pumps. They're longer and heavier than most mini-pumps, but they work faster. With their large capacity (up to 160psi), they are designed to fill high-pressure tires on road bikes.
Frame-fit pumps come in various sizes (S, M, L, etc.) based on either your frame size (measured in cm) or the top tube length (measured in mm). Before shopping, make sure you know your bike's information.
A quick, easy way to fix flat tires on the road or trail is with these small, lightweight pumps. Most can be attached to various places on your bike frame (some can even fit under your water bottle) using mounting hardware or a rip-and-stick strap. Mountain bikers tend to keep their mini-pumps inside their hydration packs, away from trail obstacles.
When shopping, consider the pump's psi capacity:
- Models up to 90psi are suitable for mountain or comfort bikes.
- Models up to 120psi offer fastest for mountain or comfort bikes; OK for some road bikes.
- Models up to 160psi are ideal for road bikes.
Now, many mini-pumps come with a built-in hose. This handy feature reduces pumping stress on the valve stem, which can actually break off during use of a standard rigid pump if you're not careful.
These offer a quick, temporary fix in a lightweight, minimalist format. The inflator kit consists of a nozzle and a cartridge and is popular with racers and anyone who wants to ride light. There is no pumping required. Cartridges are essentially single-use only because, once they have been used, any CO2 left in them leaks out after a few hours.
Fix or replace your damaged tube and fill it with CO2. It should last you until the end of your ride. When you get home, let all of the CO2 out of the tube and fill it with air again.
- 16g is the best size for a single 700c road tire.
- A 20g size can fill a pair of 700c tires or one mountain bike tire (26" or 29").
- The shut-off valve on some nozzles makes inflation more precise.
- You need to make sure you purchase a compatible set when buying replacement cartridges. Some nozzles and cartridges are threaded, others are not.