If you don't want to fit a big, efficient pump like the Topeak Road Morph or Zefal HPX to your bike frame, you'll at least need a mini pump in your pocket – something like the Crank Brothers Power Pump Alloy.
That's because you will puncture if you don't have one. The prime purpose of a mini pump is as a talisman to ward off punctures. Its secondary purpose is to get you home if you do puncture. You secretly hope you'll never have to use it, because mini pumps are maxi hassle. They take forever to inflate your tyre to a usable pressure and they're not comfortable to use.
Saying that, the Crank Brothers Power Pump Alloy isn't bad. It's a well made, aluminium-bodied pump with a T-shaped head that has presta and schrader valves on opposite sides. You rotate the pump head to lock it onto either type of valve.
A dial at the bottom of the pump enables you to switch between high volume pumping for fat tyres and high pressure pumping for thin ones.
The pressure gauge, which is accurate to within 5psi according to my Topeak digital gauge, reads up to 160psi. It only claims to reach 130psi, however. Like all mini pump claims, you can take this with a pinch of salt.
This is its theoretical maximum, if you happen to look like the guy in those old Bullworker adverts. After 200 strokes, I got a 700x23 tyre to a get-you-home 90psi and gave up because my arm hurt. (Fifty strokes got the tyre to 30psi, 100 to a little under 60psi.)
The problem, as with most hand pumps, is that you're both pressing with one hand and resisting that pressure with the other hand. So it really is like some kind of horrible Bullworker exercise. And you have to do it again and again and again, because you're pumping a small volume of air per stroke.
Pumping with the Crank Bros Power Pump Alloy was quicker but not any easier or more comfortable than with a Blackburn AirStik SL, a pump so tiny you can fit inside a little seatpack under your saddle. And it was much harder than using a Topeak Mini Morph, which is what I would take if were carrying any bag bigger than a tin of baked beans.
With any Morph – or the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive or any similar pump – the floor pushes back and you can put all your effort, and even your bodyweight, into getting air out of the pump and into your tyre. It's so much easier that, apart from maybe fitting a Zefal HPX to a road bike for aesthetic purposes, I can see only one reason to use anything else.
That reason is portability. But at 24cm long and weighing in at 182g, the Power Pump Alloy isn't that mini a mini pump. Compared to the presta-only AirStik SL, it's enormous. It's essentially the same size as the smallest Morph, the aforementioned Mini.
On the other hand, the Power Pump Alloy does have some useful features that similar sized pumps lack. It has a fairly accurate gauge, it switches effortlessly between presta and schrader, and you can change the volume pumped per stroke.
If you need one compact pump for all occasions and you don't need to reach high pressures, this will do the job, given time and effort. There's a lifetime warranty too.
There are smaller versions of the Power Pump, though none so small as an AirStik. What Crank Brothers need, I think, is a mini floor pump of their own.
The Power Pump Alloy comes with a plastic cover for the pump head, with which you can velcro-strap the pump to your bike frame. I preferred to chuck the pump in a bag instead.
The pump is available in black or silver.
A decent, all-round mini pump that's eclipsed by others on performance or portability
road.cc test report
Make and model: Crank Brothers Power Pump Alloy
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?
It's a medium sized mini pump for the owner who needs to inflate both presta and schrader valves, and who needs a gauge.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Crank Brothers say:
130psi / 9bar
high volume / high pressure
natural or black
Well made, largely in aluminium rather than plastic, and with a lifetime warranty
Only really practical for 90psi and below.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The gauge is fairly accurate, it locks onto the valve okay, but pumping is impractical beyond 90psi
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Awkward pumping action compared to a mini floor pump. Big compared to micro pumps.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they had quite specific requirements, yes
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,