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What to look for when buying a floor pump + eight of the best

A track pump, also called a floor pump, is designed to inflate your tyres quickly and easily. A small, lightweight pump is great for carrying when you ride, but a track pump is the best tool for the job when you're at home.

It doesn’t need to be especially portable so, unlike most things in cycling, weight isn’t an issue. Instead, you want something that’s built solid so it’ll last you years.

Base

The base needs to be stable so wide is good. You usually put a foot on either side of the base to hold the pump steady. If you’re likely to use your pump on polished floors inside your house or flat, check for non-slip rubber contact points that won’t cause scratches.

Gauge

One of the advantages of a track pump is that you get a gauge that allows you to inflate your tyres to the correct pressure (some hand-held pumps have gauges but most don’t). Some are digital but most are dials.

The ability to set a marker to show your target pressure is handy. Some people prefer a gauge positioned at the top of the barrel rather than at the bottom for easier reading; the main thing is that you can see it clearly.

Barrel

The barrel – the main body of the pump – can be made of various different materials. Because weight isn’t usually an issue, strong steel and aluminium are good options. The larger the barrel, the more air you can pump into your inner tubes with every stroke.

As well as getting your tyres pumped up more quickly, a large barrel will allow you to seat tyre beads in tubeless tyre systems, but beware if you're a very small rider: you might struggle to get higher pressures into your tyres with an oversized barrel.

Valve head/chuck

Most track pumps are suitable for both Presta (road type) and Schrader (car type) valves. Some have a dual head with different holes for different valves, some have a single hole that works with both, some have a chuck that you turn around according to the valve type. Sometimes you have to unscrew a cap and flip over a bung to swap between valves. That’s not a problem if you use the same type of valve all the time but it’s a bit of a pain if you use both.

If anything is going to fail on your track pump over time, it’s likely to be the valve head, so it’s a good idea to check that you can buy spares separately to save you buying a whole new pump.

Birzman use a Snap-It head on many of their pumps that locks onto Presta valves superfast and is equally easy to remove. 

Lezyne use an ABS Flip-Thread Chuck that screws in place one way around for Presta, the other way around for Schrader. You can press a button to let air out of the hose making for easier removal from the valve.

Bleed valve

A bleed valve is a handy feature if you want to be very precise with the air pressure in your inner tubes. It allows you to let a little air out without removing the valve head from the valve.

Piston

The piston is the rod underneath the handle that forces air out of the barrel and into your tyres. Some pistons can be flexy meaning that you have to pump carefully to avoid destroying the whole pump. Go for something as sturdy as possible.

Handle

Handles come in a variety of different materials. Choose a handle that’s comfortable to use and, again, go for something sturdy that’ll stand the test of time.

Hose

A long hose – one that stretches the full length of the barrel and back again – can make life slightly easier although it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker.

Weight and portability

The weight of your track pump probably isn’t much of an issue for you because it’s likely to live most, if not all, its life in your house or garage. You might want something relatively small and lightweight if you’re likely to take it with you when you travel to events/races, particularly if you’re flying.

Pressure

Check that the pump is capable of getting your tyres up to the pressure you need. The chances are that it will be, but bear in mind that some tubulars require very high pressures and some manufacturers exaggerate their pumps’ capabilities.

Looks

It used to be that track pumps were purely functional (or ‘boring’, depending on your point of view). Now you can get ones with polished steel or anodised aluminium barrels, wooden handles, and so on. They actually look cool.

Why pay more?

Pretty much every track pump out there will get enough air into your tyres relatively easily, so why not just buy the cheapest you can find and be done with it?

Well, pay extra and you're likely to get something made from better quality materials so it'll probably be more robust and last longer. If you only cycle rarely, that might not be much of an issue, but if you're a year-round cyclist, perhaps with several bikes to keep on the road, a better pump is more of an asset.

Plus, paying for a decent pump with a good head that locks firmly in place on the valve without leaking or working loose is definitely worth having. It makes life that little bit easier.

If you want a pump that's shiny and/or anodized with a wooden handle and a cool-looking gauge, it'll cost you more than a basic plastic pump, but you might not be interested in how the pump looks, especially if it's going to spend its whole life in the shed or garage.

Here are eight of our favourite track pumps at various different prices.

Revolution Air Track Pump Sport — £14.99

Revolution Air Track Pump

There’s nothing budget about the build or performance here, the Revolution Air Track Pump Sport is astonishingly well made given the price. The steel barrel is robust while the resin base and ergonomic handle add to the solid feel. The head accommodates Presta and Schrader valves, eliminating the need to strip and exchange the internals when moving between the two, which is superb functionality at this price.

Read our review of the Revolution Air Track Pump Sport

Topeak Joe Blow Sport II — £29.49

Topeak Joe Blow Sport II

Great performance and build quality from a home workshop favourite. The construction is all-steel, with the pressed base bolted to the barrel. The Sport uses Topeak's TwinHead adapter, with Presta and Schrader valves sitting opposite each other and sharing a locking lever. It's a simple design that's simple to use. Both sides of the head accepted all the valves we tried with no leaks.

Read our review of the Topeak Joe Blow Sport II
Find a Topeak dealer

Zefal Profil Max FP50 — £23.66

Zefal Profil Max FP50

Fast, effective, accurate and tough, this is highly recommended for workshop use. The Zefal comes with a steel barrel and base that give it a heavy-duty feel while the dual-compound composite handle and super smooth piston make it a joy to use. The patented Z-Switch head is a welcome innovation that allows you to toggle between valve types.

Read our review of the Zefal Profil Max FP50
Find a Zefal dealer

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV — £42.99

Lezyne's Sport Digital Floor Drive DV pump has the familiar CNC-machined build quality of its existing track pumps, but comes equipped with a digital gauge that makes inflating tyres an easier and more accurate task. DV in the product name stands for Dual Valve, a moulded plastic headnozzle that is compatible with both P{resta and Schrader valves. Push the head onto the valve, pull the lever back, and away you go. It's easy to release with no loss of air.
Buy this pump

Read our review of the Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV
Find a Lezyne dealer

Birzman Zacoo Tiny Tanker — £44.99

Birzman Zacoo Tiny Tanker

This is a great compact track pump that's as good as most full-size ones. It sits flat for easy stowage and portability. The Tiny Tanker is an all-alloy construction that feels wonderfully solid to use. The pump features an air-bleed valve which lets you adjust the pressure down if you overshoot, and a Snap-It head with a locking collar; you push the head on to a Presta valve, snap the collar down and you're ready to go.

Read our review of the Birzman Zacoo Tiny Tanker
Find a Birzman dealer

Birzman Maha Apogee III — £54.99

Birzman Maha Apogee III

Well made, beautifully designed pump that can justify a high price. Like many bike tools, it isn't until you use a really good version that you realise how important paying a bit extra can be. The Birzman Maha Apogee III floor pump is a perfect example; it's certainly not cheap at £54.99 – though it isn't the most you could pay for a track pump – but it performs really well.

Read our review of the Birzman Maha Apogee III
Find a Birzman dealer

SKS Airmenius — £80.99

Yes, it’s pricey but this is a fast action, beefily-constructed pro workshop pump, recommended for everyone but more petite mechanics. You get an unusually long barrel, a large and very clear pressure gauge, a really solid die-cast base and cork handles. The head is a flip lever one, with two push-fit ports for Schrader and Presta valves. The head is all made of plastic, but it's a solid, weighty affair that looks like it should last a long time.

Read our review of the SKS Airmenius
Find an SKS dealer

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump — £99.99

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump

If you've made the switch to tubeless road tyres and you're looking for a new track pump then the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger should be on your shorltist. It's a good pump (admittedly with one drawback) but its ability to charge up and deliver a compressor-like stream of air to seat tubeless tyres is a really neat trick and one that it performs admirably, every time so far.

Read our review of the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger
Find a Bontrager dealer

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

12 comments

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2 Wheeled Idiot [433 posts] 10 months ago
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Where's the silca super pista... I know it's expensive but for pure functionality I don't think it can be beaten.

oh and it looks mint  16

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Grizzerly [298 posts] 10 months ago
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Aldi, Lidl and Wilkinsons all sell excellent track pumps for half the price of the cheapest in this article. I've had my Lidl pump for years and it performs really well, it cost £4.99.

BTW. A pump with a steel barrel will fail after a while due to corrosion near the air outlet. Each stroke of the pump concentrates heat and moisture at the end of the stroke. Steel + heat + moisture = Corrosion.

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racingcondor [173 posts] 10 months ago
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I don't disagree with your theory on how steel could make for a pump that fails Grizzerly but I've had that Joe Blow for longer than I can remember. I'd guess at 6 years but it may be a couple more. Know a lot of people who have similar experience with them too (and if they do ever start to wear you can replace quite a few of the parts).

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fukawitribe [1748 posts] 10 months ago
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Grizzerly wrote:

Aldi, Lidl and Wilkinsons all sell excellent track pumps for half the price of the cheapest in this article. I've had my Lidl pump for years and it performs really well, it cost £4.99.

My Aldi one from about 4 years ago lasted about half a dozen sessions, if that, before falling apart - although i've heard from someone that their more recent one has been fine for a while. I'd personally never buy another from any of those but glad yours is working well.

I've had a Blackburn since then, picked up for a little over a tenner in a sale which is fine and very quick to 120psi (trainer tyre) - still prefer a Birzman with the SnapIt head, which can be had for less than half the price of the one in the review, but if it ain't broke....

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 10 months ago
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Lidl and Aldinones are crap, most won't go over 6 bar, the kids use mine, the mates is in the bin.

The Silca is brilliant but very expensive.

Have a look in the team cars, and at the track, you will see more SKS Rennkompressors than anything else.

That said, none are perfect, unlike my 30 year old Zefal HPX which does 8 bar and only needed spare lugs after a crash at age 27, which Zefal supplied for 4 euros.

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stenmeister [274 posts] 9 months ago
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Grizzerly wrote:

Aldi, Lidl and Wilkinsons all sell excellent track pumps for half the price of the cheapest in this article. I've had my Lidl pump for years and it performs really well, it cost £4.99.

BTW. A pump with a steel barrel will fail after a while due to corrosion near the air outlet. Each stroke of the pump concentrates heat and moisture at the end of the stroke. Steel + heat + moisture = Corrosion.

My Lidl pump only got up to 80psi and that was a struggle and then it started to wear out after rubbing on the valves.

My Birzman Maha cost 10 times as much and is 10 times better, effortlessly pumping up the tyres

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willdeath [33 posts] 9 months ago
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Only one pump mentioned with a guage at the top which I prefer as easier to see and less chance of damage.

After lots of research 2 years back I bought this excellent and well built one:

http://www.axiomgear.com/products/pumps/floor-pumps/kompressair-g200a/

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mylesrants [318 posts] 9 months ago
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I have a black, shitty looking BBB floor pump. Fancied a bit of inflation style and bought the Lezyne above. Looks lovely, (if a pump can) the Flip-Thread Chuck only works with certain valve makes and the piston blows back over 120 psi. The bleed button is where your hand unscrews the pump following inflation. In conclusion its shite and my bogus BBB plastic mass, is still going strong

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vonhelmet [688 posts] 9 months ago
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fukawitribe wrote:
Grizzerly wrote:

Aldi, Lidl and Wilkinsons all sell excellent track pumps for half the price of the cheapest in this article. I've had my Lidl pump for years and it performs really well, it cost £4.99.

My Aldi one from about 4 years ago lasted about half a dozen sessions, if that, before falling apart - although i've heard from someone that their more recent one has been fine for a while. I'd personally never buy another from any of those but glad yours is working well.

I've had a Blackburn since then, picked up for a little over a tenner in a sale which is fine and very quick to 120psi (trainer tyre) - still prefer a Birzman with the SnapIt head, which can be had for less than half the price of the one in the review, but if it ain't broke....

Exactly the same story here. I got a track pump from Lidl a few years back when I started cycling. It didn't get up to a very high pressure and then something popped on like the second use. I picked up a Blackburn pump on ebay for £25 and it's going strong 3 years on.

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McVittees [54 posts] 9 months ago
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Grizzerly wrote:

Aldi, Lidl and Wilkinsons all sell excellent track pumps for half the price of the cheapest in this article. I've had my Lidl pump for years and it performs really well, it cost £4.99.

My Aldi pump cost under a tenner (I think) and I bent the barrel while pumping up a tire after about 6 months. Cheap and cheerful while it lasted, but definitely not a great track pump. There is a reason they are so cheap.

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RobD [292 posts] 9 months ago
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Gotta agree with many, the Topeak Joe Blow II is hard to beat for the price, mine's a good few years old and has had plenty of abuse thrown into the boot of the car, angry pumping up of a tyre after realising I've put it on in the wrong direction, left in the corner of the garage where it gets very hot or very cold.
Saying that, it probably won't work when I come to use it tomorrow but I've certainly had my money's worth out of it.
For general home use it's pretty much all the pump you need (unless you need lots of nice aluminium/steel bits, my next one might do)

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Jimmym1302 [1 post] 9 months ago
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Definitely should mention the availability of replacements parts including, gauge, hose and valves. Rather choose a pump where the supplier has spares that are readily available.