Now backed by Cycling Sports Group, the parent company of Cannondale and GT, Frome-based brand Fabric has added a range of pumps to its portfolio, including this R200 mini pump. It's a solidly made and reasonably pocketable pump with enough stroke length to hit road pressures, although as with any pump this small, it will take a while.
First impressions are good – the R200 is made mostly out of solid, unyielding aluminium. The material thickness is noticeably more than quite a lot of metal mini pumps, with two predictable consequences. On the plus side, it seems to shrug off the knocks and bumps that have left other pumps jaded or even dented. It's also towards the heavier end of the market too at 150g, but not by an amount I'd be worried by.
The outer barrel is at the end that attaches to the valve, and the narrower piston handle is long enough that you'd have to be pretty clumsy to trap your hand when pumping energetically – this is one of my pet hates with some mini pumps.
The valve attachment will work with either Presta or Schrader valves, and screws on rather than being a push fit. This makes for a secure attachment that won't blow off, at the expense of attaching and removing it taking a few more seconds pre- and post-inflation. You may disagree, but that's a compromise I'm entirely happy with – push-fit pump attachments typically rely on rubber o-rings or grommets which inevitably wear and become less dependable over time (although they can generally be replaced).
The head of the pump can be pulled out, giving a length of flexible hose. Most half-decent mini pumps have this feature now, making them a huge improvement from the pumps of yore, as the energetic pumping required to reach suitable pressures doesn't result in the bike wheel getting thrown around.
There isn't a pressure gauge, though, so there's an element of pinching the tyre and guesswork. Mini pumps are mostly intended as a mean of getting you home after a flat, rather than pre-ride setup, and only a minority have pressure gauges.
Patents being what they are, each brand nowadays comes up with a new type of pump head. The valve attachment here is unique to Fabric, with a single hole that screws on as-is to a Schrader valve, or requires that you wind out the other side of the head first before attaching to a Presta. I suspect that many more customers will use Presta than Schrader, so it's perhaps a shame that there's an extra step for this type, but it only takes a couple of seconds. The shiny metal part of the head can rotate relative to the black plastic that holds it, so threading the pump onto a valve is straightforward.
The R200 is 235mm long, making it a mid-length pump that is likely to protrude out of your jersey pocket a bit, but not by so much as to risk falling. The R150 is a shorter version, but I'd opt for the longer stroke of the R200 as it makes it less onerous to pump up a tyre from empty.
Capacity per stroke is 32 cubic centimetres, with the slender barrel making it possible, although time-consuming, to get up to road pressure. With a 25mm tyre, I found it took a full 300 strokes to reach 80psi, but it never got really tough to keep pumping, thanks to the relatively slender barrel and long stroke. With enough patience, 100psi is eminently attainable.
Fabric also offers the chunkier M200 specifically for mountain bikes – its larger barrel puts much more air in per stroke but also limits you to 40psi.
The R200 is supplied with a frame mount bracket with stretchy rubber strap (no Velcro here), which attaches to bottle cage mounts if you don't want to pocket it. It fits without a problem underneath the bottle cage, though you might need longer screws. I found that the pump is held firmly when fitted like this.
At a penny under 35 quid, the R200 is priced towards the upper end of the spectrum for mini pumps. There is a lot of competition, much of it similarly shiny and metallic. At road.cc we really liked the Birzman Velocity Apogee with its inline pressure gauge, as well as the Hoy Hi Pressure pump and this pump from Unich.
I rather like pumps with pressure gauges, as I find pumping quite tedious and otherwise easily convince myself that "that's probably enough" when I've only got to about 60psi, with predictable consequences. So for me, that would incline me towards the Birzman. If you can live without an indicator, then the Fabric R200 is a well made pump that is sensibly sized and generally good to use.
Well-made shiny mini pump for road tyres. Longer than some but still pocketable and effective
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric R200 mini pump
Size tested: Length: 235mm; Capacity: 32cc
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Fabric says: "Hi-pressure road pump. The R200 pump provides much of the compactness and portability of the R150 with the greater efficiency of a longer pump. Able to inflate tyres to 120psi, and with a host of innovative features, including a retractable head mounted on a flexible hose to prevent jarring and damage to the valve, the R200 is a perfect companion for the serious road cyclist."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
120psi capacity from compact, feature-rich mini pump
Sandblasted aluminum body
Snap fit frame mount included
High pressure 120psi / 8.3bar
Solid aluminium and tough plastic. Has a premium finish.
Not the fastest, even among mini pumps, but it is fairly nice to use. The head is effective and holds on very dependably, even if it takes a while to fit.
Issues with the prototype supplied initially, but these have been resolved with the production units, and it's built to last now.
Among the heavier of the full metal mini pumps, but that's because it's solidly made.
Longer piston handle removes risk of trapping fingers.
Shiny mini pumps are mostly £25-30, so this is pushing it a bit. It's solidly built, but you can get pumps with a built-in pressure gauge for this money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does fine – you can get to the required pressures without straining too much, but it'll take a while. The head isn't mega fast to fit, but it holds on well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid build quality, I didn't trap my fingers, good seal on the valve. Longer stroke means road pressures are possible.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'd like a pressure gauge. It doesn't reach road pressures as fast as some mini pumps.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? There are a lot of options, it would depend!
Use this box to explain your score
It's well made, comfortable to use, and it'll get you to road pressures. The head isn't necessarily an improvement on some competing designs, but it works fine. Overall it performs well, but I couldn't say it significantly improved on lots of other decent mini pumps out there, except perhaps in terms of solidity – it feels like it should last well.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.