With its CNC-machined aluminium body and subtle gold detailing, the Crank Brothers Power Pump Ultra is a sturdy and good looking mini pump. Despite the lack of a bottle cage bracket, it's very portable: at 175mm it's small enough for a jersey pocket. As with many tiny pumps, inflating a road tyre to a usable pressure requires the patience of a saint. It best suits cyclists who travel lightly, puncture rarely, and perhaps have a CO2 cartridge in reserve.
It feels remarkably solid thanks to its predominantly metal construction. The T-shaped plastic pump head has a presta fitting on one side and a Schrader on the other. Each locks onto the relevant valve, minimising air loss and the potential to damage the valve stem.
A dial at the base of the pump lets you switch between low pressure/high volume and high pressure/low volume pumping. The former setting pumps 5.6 cubic inches per stroke, the latter 2.2 cubic inches. So you can start off with high volume pumping, then switch to high pressure as pumping gets harder.
Crank Bros claim that the Power Pump Ultra will deliver a whopping 115psi. I set my sights a bit lower initially, and measured how many strokes and how much time it took to inflate a cross-section of tyres (ranging from 700x25 to 20x1.75) to a modest 40psi.
The tyres inflated at a snail's pace. The 700x25 took three and a half minutes and 178 strokes to reach 40psi. By way of comparison: a 700x38 tyre took four minutes and 207 strokes; a 26x1.6 six minutes and 306 strokes; and a 20x1.75 a mammoth eight minutes and 342 strokes!
Since 40psi isn't a practical pressure for most road tyres, I had a breather and then went in search of the advertised 115psi. After ten minutes and thirty seconds and 712 strokes, and thinking I was about to haemorrhage, I locked out at 108psi. That's not a bad headline figure but it isn't something I'd attempt again with relish or regularity.
If it doesn't pump much per stroke, at least the Power Pump Ultra does so reliably. Ready availability of spare parts means it can be rebuilt if necessary, and the lifetime warranty adds further peace of mind.
A bijou designer pump for emergencies only, as it takes time and effort to reach high pressures
road.cc test report
Make and model: Crank Brothers Power Pump Ultra
Size tested: Power Pump Ultra - black
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?
Dual piston, alloy mini pump with high volume/high pressure switch. A great looking inflator but form presides over function.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
pressure 115psi / 8bar
air switch high volumn / high pressure
color natural or black
mounting bracket not included
patch kit not included
Ponderous but considerably better than the long walk home.
Surprisingly solid, with lifetime warrantee. Can be rebuilt.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As an emergency pump for those who love chic, carry CO2 cartridges and puncture infrequently, it meets the design brief perfectly. However, reaching servicible pressures demands considerable effort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Chic design, robust feel and quality machining.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not practical for anything other than dire emergencies.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? In certain contexts
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, were they looking for a beautifully designed pump for emergencies
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)