The Fabric Stratosphere Sport Track Pump is a perfectly capable track pump but does it do enough to stand out in a crowded market, and at a price point that is particularly fierce? The consensus in these parts is probably not unless you can find it at a good discount.
- Pros: Big handle, easy to read gauge, It pumps up your tyres
- Cons: Not the easiest at higher pressures
Most people want a quick and easy pump to use for a top-up of air pre-ride, and the Stratosphere Sport will do that. It’s got some user-friendly features too, a big easy to grip handle, and an easy to read dial - even if it is on the floor.
The 'smart' head can adapt to both Presta and Schrader valves, so no fiddling with pesky valve adaptors, and it’s not a struggle to get on and off a valve – even one handed.
The 'extra-long' hose – comparable with those of other pumps – means you can use it on a bike in a stand. However, the hose is secured to the base, shortening the reach compared with those that have the gauge higher up the pump shaft.
Using the full – and fairly generous – stroke it will pump a completely flat 25mm road tyre in 25 strokes. Lots of people these days are running wider tyres, including lots of people at road.cc and it’ll get a 30mm Schwalbe G-One Speed up to 70psi in 18 strokes.
Most people’s pumping technique isn’t going to involve using the full extent of the stroke, so with a more real world pumping action those numbers are more like 34 strokes for the 25mm and 23 for the 30. Pumping got noticeably more difficult above 60psi on the 25mm and from there more difficult still above 80psi. Don’t get us wrong: 100psi – which is the most any of us really ever need – is totally doable - but there are other pumps in and around this price range that will get you there with less effort for more or less the same amount of strokes. Most people running conventional tyres and tubes shouldn’t need to go beyond 100psi, but if you do this pump will go to higher pressures - say at the track. How close you get to the 140psi max on the dial will depend on how strong you are; the big lads in the road.cc office managed it, us more slight types struggled to get beyond 130psi.
Of course there is another group of potential users for the Stratosphere that might want some high pressure action - those of us running tubeless tyres.
The Stratosphere Sport's capacity of 327cc means for most of us it isn't going to be much help for the initial effort of seating a tubeless tyres – where you need a high volume of air quickly. To be fair that isn't necessarily what this pump is designed for. However if you run tubeless tyres you’re also likely to have something like an Airshot or a Schwalbe Tire Boost: basically a canister you can charge up with a reasonably high volume of air at a very high pressure – the Tire Boost maxes out at 160psi – to give that initial blast needed to seat a tubeless tyre on the rim. This is where the Stratosphere did struggle: I couldn’t get more than 120psi in to a Tire Boost. That might be enough to do the job or it might not. As a comparison Dave did manage to get 140psi in to an Airshot with the Blackburn Piston 1 Floor Pump, and also managed it with this pump. Dave noted that neither was particularly happy about pumping up to that pressure, but they both did. He’s a big strong lad - six foot two to my five foot eight; I wouldn’t have been comfortable forcing any more out of the Stratosphere.
The price, at a little over £30, is okay for a low budget option, but there are others, such as the Topeak Joe Blow Sport or Zefal Profil Max FP60, that'll give you a lot more for a little more money. I still swear by my simple Bikehut Performance Track Pump (the link is the same pump with a different sticker on), still going strong five years on, and even capable of getting me through a tubeless set-up.
Anything else of note to mention? One slightly unusual feature is the sandpaper-like footpads on the 'heavy duty base' - not totally sure what the benefit here is. There’s a bit of extra grip I suppose if you’re wearing flip-flops or trainers while pumping, though lack of grip has never something that’s bothered me while pumping. We did wonder if the’d be a problem for those pumping in bare feet or wearing socks (well, we do sometimes) but a quick test dispelled those fears, maybe some very slight snagagge when pumping in your socks. They could be painful if you catch a hand on them when transporting the pump, but we’re stretching there; and they did prove useful when I was out of sandpaper and needed to file down my brake pads that were squeaking.
Overall, the Stratosphere Sport is a budget option, and so some of these negatives shouldn't be taken too heavily. That said, while it does the job of pumping up your tyres, there are other pumps on the market at a similar price that are, in our opinion, better.
There are better alternatives for the price, but it'll do what you need it to do
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Stratosphere Sport Track Pump
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Fabric says: "One speedy, precise track pump
"Get pumped up for the ride ahead with the Stratosphere Sport. Setting the standard for performance, the track pump automatically adapts to Presta and Schrader valves, while the large gauge gives precise inflation at a glance."
It's not the best quality, but it is only £32 and it does the job for your pre-ride checks and top-ups.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Nylon base and handle
Extra-long rubber hose
Heavy duty base
Fits Presta or Schrader valves
Large gauge for easy reading
Pressure: 160psi – 11bar Length: 635mm
Base: Heavy duty nylon
Performs well enough. Good for your standard tyre top up, though the capacity won't allow for much more like an initial tubeless set up where you need high volume quickly.
Bit rattly but I couldn't tell if rattles were getting worse during the test or if I was just noticing them more, but there were no issues in performance.
It was never going to be top of the range at this price, but there are cheaper and in my opinion better pumps out there for your money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performance for its designed purpose is absolutely fine.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
That it pumped my tyres up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The poor quality with rattly parts.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not especially.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
It performs well enough, and has a couple of nice touches but there are too many other pumps in the market at this price that perform as well or better
About the tester
I usually ride: Giant TCX My best bike is: Scott CR1 Pro
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives