Birzman Zacoo Next track pump  £74.99

8/10

Very nice-looking, well-made, sturdy, durable piece of kit. Not cheap though

Weight 1355g   Contact  www.birzman.co.uk

by David Else   January 30, 2011  

The nice people at Birzman say the designs of their bike tools are inspired by nature. Hence, according to their website, the Zacoo Next floor pump design “originates from the Birzman premier 5 degree floor pump” which itself originates from “the trunk of a tree … a true vertical expression of strength and stability.”

Actually the arboreal comparisons apply more to the range topping Zacoo 5 which has tree inspired outer casing inside which… is the Zacoo next. The Zacoo 5 also has a workshop length hose and is aimed more at shop mechanics who need to inflate tyres while a bike is stoll on the workstand. The Zacoo Next is tall and cylindrical rather than overtly tree-like But then so are most floor pumps (aka track pumps). Is there anything that makes the Zacoo Next different to the rest?

While the arboreal comparisons may be pushing it, the appearance of this pump is undeniably striking: sleek and shiny in polished aluminum (the only non-metal bits are the hose and presumably the internal seals), with a narrow barrel and a flat slender metal handle. It’s got a kind of 1950s retro look. I’m vaguely reminded of Dakotas, tail-fined Cadillacs and Airstream caravans.

But looks count for nothing is the pump doesn’t work. So let’s put it onto a valve and give it a test.

The pump will fit Schrader valves (‘car type’) and Presta valves (found on most bikes) by simply turning round the valve-fitting nozzle at the end of the flexible hose. We’re testing the Presta fitting.

It’s a screw-on nozzle, rather than ‘push and clip’. This makes for a nice tight fit, with no air-loss when pumping. Some mechanics prefer push-on pumps, as screw-ons can sometimes have the disadvantage of also tightening up the small release nut on top of the valve so air can’t get in. But that didn’t seem to be a problem here.

Tighten it up, and give it a few thrusts. Nice and smooth. Keep going, and the tyre goes from flat to 100psi in about 25 full thrusts. Kept going, up to about 150psi. The barrel and plunger stayed firm and positive throughout. No bendy plastic here.

So it puts air in your tyres. So far, so good. Now let’s have a closer look at the funky design.

The feet of the pump taper back towards you, so you stand slightly behind the pump, rather than over it (as is usual with track pumps). To tie in with the required stance, the pump barrel is specifically angled at 5 degrees to the vertical (ie, leaning towards you a bit) to make for an easier pumping action.

Personally I’ve never had any problems with upright pumps, and pump-feet that stick out each side, so was inclined to think all this was a gimmick. But not having to lean right over the pump does seem to make it easier. It would be a definite advantage to anyone of slightly shorter stature or weaker arms. So overall, the ergonomics are a plus.

The dial is at the base of the pump, with a large needle that’s easy to see. However, while the needle is easy to see, the psi numbers in green on a black background is an odd choice - they’re difficult to read if you’re not in daylight. The numbers giving the figures in bar are in white, so maybe it’s just the urge you need to go metric. Either way, maximum pressure shown on the dial is 220psi (15 bar).

The flexible hose on the pump is about 700mm long. When not in use, it clips over the handle into semicircular cut-outs on a little metal plate at the top of the barrel. And that is the pump’s only downside: the edges of the cut-outs on our test model are remarkably sharp. Catch your thumb on one of them when you’re pumping (or even simply clipping the hose into place) and it’ll draw blood.

(On the Birzman website, the picture of the pump indicates that this offending clip is made of plastic, but we’re assured by the Birzman people that it’s metal, although they say the models they have in their warehouse don’t have this problem - so maybe out test model is an oddity.)

But it’s a minor matter. Other than the issue of the hose clip, the pump itself is faultless. It’s a sturdy, durable and very handy addition to any self-respecting workshop, although the recommended retail price of £75 will put a few people off.

Verdict

Very nice-looking, well-made, sturdy, durable piece of kit. Not cheap though.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Birzman Zacoo Next track pump

Size tested: n/a

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?

The Birzman website says: " the Zacoo 5 Degree [the premier item in the range] pump design is inspired by the trunk of a tree, and successfully mimics its unwavering strength and stability.” It goes on to say “Beautifully finished, the entire pump range [including the Zacoo Next], and draws inspiration from this piece, and all feature the innovative and ergonomic 5 degree angled barrel to ease stress on the mechanics shoulders.” To be honest, this tree comparison does seem to be over-egging things a bit, but the pump is certainly strong and stable.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Did you enjoy using the product? yes

Would you consider buying the product? yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? To a rich friend that loves sleek design

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm  Weight: 11 stone / 70kg

I usually ride: an old Marin Alp   My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,

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