We recommend that every cyclist should have two bicycle pumps, one that's carried on rides to repair flat tires (commonly called a "frame" or "mini" pump), and another for checking and topping off tires before rides (called a "floor" pump). While you could rely solely on your frame or mini pump for all inflation tasks, you'll find that a good floor pump with a built-in pressure gauge makes checking and adding pressure much easier. To help you pick the perfect pump, we've prepared this primer.
The first question when purchasing a bicycle pump is which type of inner tubes you use. The two standard valve types are Schrader and Presta (photo).
Schrader valves are identical to those found on car tires. These valves are generally used on hybrid and children's bikes. Presta valves, which are found on most road and off-road bikes, are longer and thinner and feature a threaded tip, which must be opened to inflate (turn counterclockwise).
If you have bikes with both valve types, you'll want a floor pump that fits both (photo: below, right). And, your frame pump must match the valve type on the bicycle you plan to carry it on. Usually, however, these pumps come with heads, which work with both types of valves.
A floor pump is the fastest and most efficient way to pump up your tires. It will eliminate the hassle and workout of using a mini or frame pump to top off the pressure before rides. And, if you have a floor pump, you won't wear out your frame pump so quickly. What's more, you'll find great features on floor pumps that make tire inflation almost as easy as using an air compressor.
For example, most of our floor pumps fit both valve types. They have pump heads that lock onto the valve when you're inflating so you never have to hold it in place with one hand while struggling to pump with the other. Our pumps can easily inflate even the highest pressure tires. And our pumps come with stable bases that you stand on for support while pumping. Plus, they have handles shaped and padded for comfort while you're pumping.
So that you can easily check tire pressure, we feature pumps that include accurate pressure gauges with large, easy-to-read faces. The hoses on these pumps are long, too, to make it easy to inflate tires even when the bike is held on a car rack or repair stand.
Mini & Frame Pumps
Frame and mini pumps ensure that you'll get home should you get a flat tire on a ride. Frame pumps (not shown) are typically longer than mini pumps and require a certain amount of open space on the bicycle to fit. Some frame pumps are spring loaded and fit between the frame tubes. Others, and most mini pumps (photo), come with brackets that are mounted onto the frame for carrying the pump. Minis also can be carried in a jersey or pack if you prefer not to adorn your bike with a pump.
While it typically takes more strokes and effort to inflate a tire with a mini than a frame pump, minis are small enough to fit on any bicycle; even dual-suspension models that would never accept a full-size frame pump. That's why minis are so popular.
The only downside with minis is that they often require more effort than frame pumps to reach proper tire pressures. However, all our pumps will inflate tires sufficiently to allow finishing your ride.
CO2 inflators (photo) provide a simple, efficient method to inflate your tires on rides. These pumps utilize CO2 cartridges, which are filled with compressed CO2 gas. The advantages of these pumps is that they weigh very little, fit easily in a bike bag or pocket, and they provide almost instant inflation to optimal pressure, which saves you the inconvenience of spending several minutes pumping.
However, CO2 pumps only provide as many opportunities to fill your tires as you have CO2 cartridges. If there's a problem with the inner tube or the CO2 cartridge, you'll be out of luck. Also, if you choose one of these pumps, please recycle the used CO2 cylinders with other aluminum items.
We always stock a fine selection of pumps. Please come in soon to check them out!
More efficient pump mechanism
Won't fit on all bikes
Some models fit on the frame without brackets
Good "weapon" to scare dogs
Fit on all bikes and in pockets and packs
Some require lots of strokes to achieve riding pressures