There's some pretty established brands making track pumps, compared with which Birzman can still be considered something of a new kid, but even so this Zacoo Maha III pump shows they're not messing around - aiming squarely at the shiny end of the market. In fact, there's a marked visual similarity between this pump and similarly priced offerings from Lezyne, but with some interesting and innovative features.
Birzman appear to have been influenced by the Cinelli school of naming things - this pump has a pretty silly name (if not quite on a par with the Bootleg Magic Bus Rat). It's an evolution of the Zacoo Next that we tested (/content/review/30339-birzman-zacoo-next-track-pump) a couple of years ago, which we liked a lot. In the 2013 range, the equivalent is the Zacoo Maha II, which gives you a shiny aluminium handle for another £20. Here, the Maha III has a wooden handle, but pretty much all of the rest of it is metal and nicely finished it is too.
Like the older model, the Maha III boasts Birzman's signature 5 degree lean, intended to make pumping up your tyres more comfortable. I've never really had a problem with vertical pumps, but I have to agree that this does make things marginally more comfortable. Likewise the feet, which are splayed backwards from the pump, are better positioned than those which come out at the sides.
In use it's an efficient device - pumping a 700x23 tyre to 120psi took a mere 28 pumps (verified by Daisy, a nearby 8 year old) and it feels solid and smooth, which is what you want from your track pump. It is rated to 220psi although I didn't have any tyres similarly rated, so I couldn't test this.
The major change from earlier models and from its competition is the Snap-It head. Dave was impressed by this when reviewing the Birzmann Tiny Tanker (/content/review/80896-birzman-zacoo-tiny-tanker) and it really is a lovely thing to use. Rather than having a lever, a screw-on connection or a rubber push-fit, the Maha III head uses a sliding collar device to fix to the valve. It's a similar concept to industrial air-line fittings but more like a Lemo electrical connectors in use - you push the valve in the hole and slide up the collar, and then slide the collar down again to release it.
I found the Snap-It head to be very quick and efficient to use - it gets a good seal reliably, and is super fast to remove once you're done pumping, just grab it and pull. It will be interesting to see how it holds up to long-term use, but as the important parts of the head are made from metal and a "composite matrix", it should be fairly durable. Having also used the Lezyne Flip-Thread adaptor, I prefer the Birzman Snap-It - it's just quicker and easier.
There is a pressure release button on the head too, which is a nice touch, so you can back off the pressure fairly precisely if you've got carried away and gone too far. There's a similar-looking button on a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive that I have, which serves a different purpose; to let the pressure out of the hose before unscrewing the head.
One point - the Snap-It head is only for Presta valves. However, it can be unscrewed and then you're left with a screw-on Schrader fitting. This does mean that if your Snap-It ever wears out, it can be very easily replaced.
We found another use for the Maha III - it was quite good for inflating the air suspension on a moving crash test vehicle (http://youtu.be/RUoS5afatk4) that I'm involved with in my day job - normal track pump heads were too bulky to get to the inflator.
In terms of other features, the gauge displays in both bar and psi and is reasonably easy to read, if not as easy as pumps where this is mounted at the top of the barrel. The hose was long enough for anything I needed, although I believe they will ship with a longer one (twice the length of the barrel) which would be good for use with shop workstands.
It is a premium price for a floor pump given that you can pick up something which will do the job for £20 or less, but make no mistake, this is a premium product. Beautifully finished, and with one killer feature (the head) that is unique to Birzman, this is a great pump.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman Zacoo Maha III
Size tested: One
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?
E- Version 5 Degree Floor Pump - Intermediate.
Design evolved from Birzman's premier 5 Degree floor pump design.
1. Pump tilts towards the user providing unparalleled ergonomic comfort.
2. Stable Aluminium Alloy base with High polished premium finish.
3. Varnished wooded twin- handle for comfortable grip.
4. CNC'd and super stiff pump barrel for durability/performance.
5. 220 psi max with Presta/Schrader compatibility
6. Color option: Silver and grey
Max Pressure: 220 psi
Unique New Snap -It Valve
The unique SNAP-IT is the ultimate secure valve connection. It opens up allowing fast and easy valve engagement of any Presta valve. Once engaged two threaded bits clamp the valve securely on each side preventing blow off under high pressure. Made from aluminium and composite matrix.
With Pressure Control Button
All Zacoo Maha pumps have an integrated the Pressure Control Button allows accurate air release from the tyre to achieve the perfect pressure.
Very well put together - I would expect it to last for a good long while. I would probably prefer the version with the alu handle, but not enough to pay £20 more for it.
A good quality track pump is something every cyclist should own, and this is a peach. Pumping is smooth and stable, and the Snap-It head is genius.
A solidly made pump, should last for ages. I could imagine the head might wear out eventually, but can be unscrewed and replaced if it did.
Wooden handle is comfortable in use, feet are well positioned, and it's got the lean. What's not to like?
There are cheaper pumps, there are pricier pumps. For the money, this is excellent and probably the one I'd buy. Ergo, decent value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed - a real pleasure to use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Snap-It head and the general feel of a high-quality product.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 6"3 Weight: 81kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Fixed-conversion Eddy Merckx MX-Leader
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: road racing, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.