The Scope Apogee is one of eight mini-pumps in Birzman's Road Pump range. It's a well-designed, light pump that gives sufficient roadside pressure that anyone in not too much of a hurry would be happy with; a seasoned or impatient roadie may not be so content.
- Pros: Great Apogee head, comfortable to hold, secure mount included
- Cons: The effort to get to 120psi, no flexible hose, no gauge
The last Birzman mini-pump we reviewed on road.cc was the Velocity Apogee, in 2015. Back then the Snap-it Apogee valve adapter head was new; it was effectively an add-on to the already existing Snap-it head. It's still a feature on the vast majority of Birzman's road, mountain bike and mini-road pumps. Clearly it's a seller. It fits both Presta and Schrader valves, and is basically idiot proof: one simple shift of the collar flicks between the two. Engagement is instant and there is absolutely no air loss when you disengage the head. It's effective and durable.
Birzman divides its hand pumps into two broad categories according to their valve heads – with hose, or L-shaped with no hose. Birzman told me the Scope Apogee was designed as an upgrade to the Mini Apogee, a pocket-sized pump with an L-shaped head. The Scope is 25g heavier than the Mini at 100g, but the longer 22cm body provides greater leverage while inflating. The Mini's aluminium handle is replaced with a more user-friendly version – a grippier hard neoprene with a lip that sits against the thumb tip or groove of the index finger. This handle modification certainly makes things effortless at lower pressures.
Birzman has added a dust cap too, but it's a real fiddle to get it seated plush into the head and I'm not entirely convinced it will stand the test of time.
The Scope Apogee is rated at a maximum of 120psi, but after 350 strokes I was at 80psi and decided that was enough. It didn't actually take too long to reach 80psi, and I wasn't really fighting too much resistance, it's more that, since the head is a direct mount there is no flexibility in the pump's position while you work to inflate the tyre, which makes things tiresome after a while.
I'm generally happy with 80psi to get me home after a flat anyway. And it doesn't happen often with a decent set of tyres...
The Scope Apogee is a solid unit whose CNC'd aluminium body withstands being dropped onto concrete – though it's unlikely to hit the tarmac with speed or force thanks to the mountable holder it comes with. This is attached to the frame at the bottle cage threads; the screws provided aren't long enough if you want a cage on top of the mount, but that's easily overcome.
The mount has three 'clamping points' for holding the pump. Two sit close together, one round the aluminium body and the other round the handle to keep the pump in its most compact state. The third clamp sits further down the barrel and features a silicone band for extra security. It's unlikely to be put to the test as the clamp really is solid. Good job too, as the silicone band only sits in a groove rather than being attached to the bracket.
For a short-distance commuter the Scope is a decent option – it can permanently sit securely on the frame and will give you enough pressure to get you to your destination. For faster outings and training rides, roadies in favour of mini-pumps (let's be honest, they are like Marmite) will love how light the Scope is and how smooth inflation is, but it's outshone by the Velocity Apogee for pumping power (80psi took Mike "220-ish" strokes) and the Velocity has a flexible hose and a gauge, all for just a few quid more. It also doesn't stand out when pitched against similar models by other manufacturers, such as Unich's High Pressure Long mini-pump, now £21.99, or the GT Attack at £16.99.
Solid yet light mini-pump, with a decent mounting bracket, but pack a gel or two if you want to reach 120psi
road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman Scope Apogee
Size tested: 22x4x2.6cm
Tell us what the product is for
Birzman says the Scope Apogee 'is the ideal lightweight, unobtrusive pump to take with you on your ride. The innovative Snap-It Apogee valve adapter makes inflation easier than ever before.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Head: Snap-It Apogee (Presta / Schrader compatible), instant valve engagement.
Barrel: CNC machined aluminium
Size: 22 x 4 x 2.6cm
Capacity: 120 psi / 8.3 bar
The Apogee system is great and the pump action is smooth. Reaching 120psi will require well in excess of 400 strokes, though.
Pump itself seems well built and tough. Valve protector might not stand the test of time – it's a real fiddle to fit properly so will likely be flapping about more than it is tucked away.
Handle is comfortable to hold. The pump's position on the frame is unobtrusive, if this falls under the 'comfort' category...
Expensive in comparison to others. The GT Attack Mini Pump offers the same 120psi capability, is the same length and is over £10 cheaper, though it's 50g more and doesn't come with a mount.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does as it claims. Will get you back on the road and home and won't weigh you down in the process.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Secure mount. Smooth action.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Too much like hard work to reach over 90psi when there are mini pumps out there that can get there more easily.
Did you enjoy using the product? I've used worse!
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not, certainly not at the RRP anyway.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If it was in a decent sale.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Certain features are really appealing: it's a robust unit with a decent bracket to mount it and the Apogee head is great. But when it boils down to having a pump that'll inflate to its stated pressure with minimal effort, the Scope doesn't out-perform alternatives.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…