Even the toughest tyres can't guarantee you won't puncture this winter. A mini-pump can't either, but it can guarantee you're not left stranded in the cold. We take a look at seven of the best
Words: James Shrubsall/Cycling Active
In an age when computerised gear mechs hang off superlight and aero frames so finely engineered as to give a rocket scientist a hot flush, it seems incongruous that we have to carry a pump in case of a flat tyre. But make no mistake, it is an essential.
If you don’t have one to hand, and you’re only heading out for a short ride, it can be easy to dismiss the idea that you’re about to get stranded. But those who have trudged five miles to the nearest train station in cycling shoes, or heard on the phone the ruthless cackle of a partner who has absolutely no intention of making a 20-mile round trip, kids in tow, to pick them up, will understand that even on a short ride, a puncture + no pump = big problems.
Yes, you can add a CO2 cartridge inflator to your armoury if you like, but it’s not a cheap way to pump your tyres up. The fact that they’re also single-use is at least one way to add interest to the tedium of flatting miles from home — in fact you’ll find your heart rate can reach hitherto uncharted heights as you anticipate just how you’ll cover the 20 miles that lie between you and your warm house unless you get this reinflation exactly right!
To be fair, most cartridge systems are pretty foolproof, but a mini-pump is always going to be a safer bet because you can use it again and again, however many times you flat. Always peace of mind, especially on a long ride.
Since they became popular 10 or 15 years ago, the mini-pump market has grown up considerably and there is now a comprehensive selection of well engineered items for the discerning inflationist to choose from. We’ve corralled seven of the best in a variety of designs and prices.
We’re lucky — it’s not easy to find duff cycling gear in the shops these days, and that definitely applies to our seven pumps. We were particularly impressed with how well the connectors worked on every model here — something we definitely wouldn’t have expected 10 years ago.
However, some still did the job better than others and for us the stand-out model was the Topeak. The pumping action was smooth, easy and positive all the way to 65psi and it would have gone on. Importantly, it also sat easily in the hand. For the price, we were bowled over by the BBB, and if you’re keeping costs down you can shell out for this with confidence.