It’s time to pump up the jam and get some fresh air on board with these, our tried and tested pick of the top track pumps: an essential piece of kit for every cyclist
Getting your tyre pressures right is critical to having a good ride. Too low and you will have sloppy handling and heavy road feel; too high and you will be bumped around and uncomfortable while handling suffers. You also need to adjust your tyre pressure to the conditions: in winter, you should run lower pressures to improve grip on wet roads, whereas in summer slightly higher pressure means less rolling resistance and helps you cover longer distances more easily.
For those who ride off-road, either on a mountain bike or a cyclo-cross or adventure road bike, getting the tyre pressure just right is even more important because it is critical to ensuring grip in loose conditions and — if you are using inner tubes — avoiding pinch flats.
Many mtbs come with Schrader rather than Presta valves, so you will need your pump to be compatible with both types. And if you intend to use it for a track bike, it will need to reach much higher pressures.
Inflating your tyres with a mini-pump before you set out is an option, but it’s a lot quicker, easier and more comfortable if you have a separate floor pump (AKA track pump) at home. Most track pumps come with a gauge, so that you can accurately determine the tyre’s pressure. They have a stable base, and most have a metal barrel good for longevity and pumping efficiency. The handle needs to be comfortable and wide enough that its ends don’t dig into your hands.
Our pick of the best track pumps
Topeak is a bike accessories powerhouse with everything from bags to computers and trailers. Even its track pump range is More…
Although the Oxford pump has a bit of a budget feel to it, it actually does the job quite well. More…
Zefal is the oldest cycling accessory manufacturer in the world, having been founded in 1880. it is probably best known More…
GT is better known for its bikes than its accessories, but this track pump is effective as well as being More…
Birzman has a knack for taking bog standard bicycle accessories and adding a few design twists which really make a More…
Axiom is a Canadian brand with a quiver of well-designed cycling accessories. Indeed, so robust is its gear that it More…
What to look for
It’s helpful to have a long hose on a pump, so that you can find somewhere stable to place the pump body without needing to move the bike. If you use a bike stand, a long hose helps access the valve while the bike is lifted off the ground, without having to fiddle around with the valve’s position.
The connector from the pump to the valve needs to be easy to fit, without disturbing the core of a Presta valve, which can result in loss of air from the tyre. The connector should be compatible with Presta and Schrader valves, so that the pump can be used on mtb tyres too.
A floor pump should have a gauge so that you can easily assess what pressure you have reached. Often this is at floor level, so it needs to be clearly graduated and large enough to ensure that you can read it — particularly if you have poor eyesight.
None of these pumps falls flat on performance. They all get a road tyre up to pressure far quicker than does a mini-pump, and work with Schrader-valved mtb tyres. Each has a gauge, letting you set the pressure spot-on before you set out.