The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Best Bicycle Pump for Your Cycling Adventures
For cycling enthusiasts, a reliable bike pump is an essential tool. However, with so many options available, selecting the right one can be a daunting task.
This guide will help you choose the perfect bike pump. It covers the different types of bicycle pumps, the importance of correct pressure, and everything you need to know before investing in a pump.
Understanding Your Needs
Before diving into the world of bicycle pumps, take a moment to consider your specific needs.
Are you a casual rider or a serious cyclist? Do you need a pump for quick fixes on the go, or are you looking for a high-performance option for your home workshop? Understanding your unique requirements will help narrow down the many options available.
At Eurocycles, we recommend you have at least two bike pumps in your arsenal: a track pump for at-home efficient and accurate pumping and a hand pump or CO2 inflator for on-the-go inflation.
Before selecting a bicycle pump, be sure to check the valve compatibility. Most pumps will use either Presta or Schrader valves, but some may require an adapter for certain valve types. Ensure that the pump you choose is compatible with the valves on your bike's tyres to avoid compatibility issues.
Typically, road bike tyres are fitted with Presta valves, whereas mountain and hybrid bikes come with Schraeder ones.
Schraeder valves are the same ones used by car tyres, while Presta valves have a thin threaded tip that needs unlocking before inflating. (See pic below.)
Most of our cycling pumps will have a dual function: either automatic, or by adjusting the head with the correct connector.
Tyre pressure: Quick notes
What is PSI and BAR?
These are the two measurements usually used in the bike world to describe the pressure's amount in a tyre or inner tube.
BAR is the metric unit of pressure, while PSI (Pound per Square Inch) is its imperial counterpart.
Bar is measured in 0.1 increments while PSI is using 1.0 increments. 1 bar equals 14.50psi.
Is tyre pressure that important?
Yes. Proper tyre pressure avoids flats, reduces rolling resistance and increases the comfort of your rides.
Your tyre pressure will vary depending on factors such as your tyres' size, their sidewall thickness, your weight, and riding conditions.
Higher pressure in your tyres works best for smooth roads, whereas slightly underinflated ones are more suitable for rough roads or trails.
Typically, the below guidelines are followed:
- Kid's Bikes: 20/40psi
- Narrow tyres / Road bikes: 80-130 psi / 5.5-9 bars
- Medium tyres / Hybrid bikes: 50-70 psi / 3.4-4.8 bars
- Thick Tyres / Mountain bikes: 30-50 psi / 2.1-3.4 bars
You can find your optimal tyre pressure on the sidewall of your tyres. To learn more about tyres, check our guide on how to choose your tyres.
Top tip: Check your tyre pressure weekly to ensure optimal results.
Types of Bicycle Pumps
Floor pumps, also known as track pumps, are designed for home use. They provide high air volume per stroke. They are ideal to inflate your tyre to a specific pressure.
Their high-capacity air-filling power offers the fastest and most efficient way of inflating your tyre. However, these are bulkier than frame pumps and cannot be carried on rides. They are designed to be left in your shed or the boot of your car while you go out on and off the roads.
They have a capacity of up to 220 psi or 10 bar, which can easily be measured on their pressure gauge, and come with a stable base and comfortable padded handles.
Hand pumps: Mini Pumps and Frame Pumps
Mini pumps are compact and portable, making them ideal for carrying on rides. These pumps are designed to be lightweight and fit easily into a jersey pocket or saddlebag. Most will also come with brackets to be fitted on your bike frame.
While they are compact, lightweight and easy to carry on rides, they require more effort to pump your tyres and are less accurate than track pumps, often only reaching up to 120psi.
If you are not bothered by carrying the lightest and most compact pump option, the classic frame pump is perfect. It allows you to pump a higher pressure with less effort than the mini pump. Their longer barrel gives a little more purchase while inflating. However, they are bulkier and need to be fitted on your frame for easy transport.
Trying to bridge the gap between the practicality of hand pumps and the efficiency of track pumps, CO2 inflators are a quick, compact, simple and lightweight way to pump your tyres in a hurry.
CO2 inflators use compressed carbon dioxide to inflate tyres rapidly. They are popular among cyclists who prioritize speed and convenience. They are ideal if you are racing and don't want to lose time on the side of the road changing a tyre. As there is no pumping involved, no effort is required to inflate your tyre with them, unlike with the other pumps.
However, you are limited to the number of canisters you carry as the canisters are only a one-time use item. If going on long rides, we'd recommend carrying more than one canister with you or combining the CO2 inflator with a mini pump as a backup.
When choosing a CO2 inflator, ensure that it is compatible with your valve type and that the canister is the right size. The 16g canisters are designed for road tyres (700c), and the 20g for hybrid, electric bikes and mountain bike tyres (from 700c to 29").
Top tip: When using the inflator, make sure the canister is covered with a sleeve or that you are wearing gloves at it will become extremely cold as the gas gets released into the tyre.
Pros and Cons of each bike pump type
Selecting the best bicycle pump for your cycling adventures doesn't have to be a difficult task. By evaluating your needs and considering different pump types, you can make an informed decision based on key features such as valve compatibility, durability, pressure gauge accuracy, compactness and ergonomics. With the right bicycle pump by your side, you'll be ready to tackle any cycling adventure that comes your way.