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BUYER'S GUIDE

Best cycling mini pumps 2022 — tiny tools to get your tyres topped up

A good mini pump is vital insurance against a flat tyre. Get one of our recommended pumps and you'll be back on the road in no time

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The best cycling mini pumps are light and take up little space but they vary hugely in quality and usability. Some mini pumps work almost as well as frame pumps while others are, let's be honest, pretty lousy. In this guide we'll steer you towards the best mini pumps, as uncovered in dozens of inflation tests and help you choose which compromises you can live with.


If you value portability and are prepared to invest to get a mini pump that will deliver a decent blast of air to made a roadside repair, a mini pump could become one of the best cycling accessories you own; although compared to your track pump at home, even the very best mini pump will be a compromise. Too small and it'll take ages to inflate a tyre; too big and it'll be, well, big. And heavy. 

Think about how you're going to carry it. The smallest mini pumps will fit in a pocket of seatpack; larger ones may come with a mount that shares your bottle cage bolts.

Durability is important — look for tough materials so you don't find your pump has been beaten to death in your seatpack when the time comes that you really need it. Some mini pumps can also deliver the contents of a CO2 cartridge into your tyre, which can be handy for fast repairs.

Without further ado, here is our pick of the best mini pumps plus some handy tips to help you choose... 

The best mini pumps: our top picks

Topeak Pocket Rocket The best mini pump overall

Topeak Pocket Rocket

9
The best mini pump overall
Buy now for £17 from Rutland Cycling
Light
Ergonomic, well thought out design
Easy to carry
Great value for money
Achieving advertised 160psi might take some time, but do you really need your tyres that hard?
Pump head dust cap can pop open if you leave it in Schrader mode

Our pick for the best mini pump in terms of portability and function, the Topeak Pocket Rocket weighs a measly 109g and is a smidge over 22cm long, meaning it can easily nestle down in a jersey pocket without falling out. Despite its small size it works really well, pumping up a 28mm tyre in around 150 strokes. It's well made too, and looks a much more expensive pump than it is.

Vel AR-Flow Travel Pump Best mini pump for going on holiday

Vel AR-Flow Travel Pump

7
Best mini pump for going on holiday
Buy now for £28 from Sigma Sports
Secure fit to valves
No finger-trapping issues
Foot increases stability
Handle isn't the most comfortable

The Vel AR-Flow Travel Pump is a handy companion to have on any cycling adventure. It's efficient, simple to use and very well made. It's quite a bulky piece of kit for attaching to your frame, though.

Compared with a track pump, there are obviously a lot of compromises to be made to create a pump that you can carry around with you; the AR-Flow does away with a lot of them, though.

At 315mm long, the Vel certainly can't be described as a mini-pump so it's not the type of thing that you'll be bunging in a jersey pocket, but this is the only time its size can be seen as a slight negative.

SKS Airboy XL The best mini pump for gravel bikes

SKS Airboy XL

9
The best mini pump for gravel bikes
Buy now for £19.99 from Tredz
Efficient for bigger tyres
Well-made
Not good at higher pressures

The SKS Airboy XL mini pump is excellent quality, can handle up to 73psi, and fits easily into a pack or jersey pocket. Its efficient action makes it ideal for high volume, low pressure gravel and mountain bike tyres, and for the price it's a strong choice; it's our choice for the best mini pump for gravel bikes.

The quality and finish of the Airboy XL is impressive. The body has a smooth anodised finish, the plastic end caps feel sturdy and the action is smooth even after prolonged use. The size and shape is comfortable too, while the rubber pad on the end adds welcome cushion whilst pumping.

Lezyne Road Drive Alloy The best larger mini pump

Lezyne Road Drive Alloy

9
The best larger mini pump
Buy now for £27.99 from Bikester
High volume
Good for high pressure tyres
Not very compact

At 297mm, the L-for-Long version of this mini pump isn't terribly mini, but it works well; it's easily the best mini pump if you're happy to cary it on your frame not in your pocket. It comes with its own bracket and it's very shiny and beautifully made with some well thought out little details. Both ends of the CNC-ed aluminium pump are protected by rubber caps to stop road gunk getting inside and the connecting hose screws securely inside the handle. Works with Presta valves only.

Everything you need to know about
mini pumps

faq-icon
How should I choose a mini pump?

Bear in mind that when you need to use a mini pump out on the road, nine times out of ten you're already teetering on the edge of a bad mood. You've just had a puncture, you've had to take your wheel off and check for a thorn in your tyre, and if it's winter you're probably also getting cold.

What you need in this situation is a pump that'll get you back on the road quickly. What you definitely don't need is something that looks and performs like it fell out of a Christmas cracker.

You might be tempted to go for the smallest and lightest mini pump you can find on the basis that it'll be the easiest to carry around. After all, you won't use a mini pump on the vast majority of rides, right? That thinking is faultless right up to the point that you actually get a flat.

Some mini pumps are so small that you'll spend an age trying to inflate your tyre enough to ride home never mind getting up to recommended pressure, and many are simply flimsy and don't last long.

Something else to beware of is that with a head that's integrated into the main body of the pump (as opposed to at the end of a hose) you can put a lot of pressure on the valve as you inflate. It's quite easy to damage a slim Presta valve as you pump – and perhaps even snap it – if you aren't able to hold the barrel steady.

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How does the barrel affect mini pump performance?

The barrel is often made from some form of plastic although aluminium alloy is also used. The Pro Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump that we reviewed has an alloy construction, for example. You'll occasionally see a pump with a carbon-fibre barrel, such as Lezyne's Carbon Road Drive.

A pump with a short barrel might be lighter and easier to carry than a longer one, but the volume of air pumped per stroke will be lower so it's a question of balancing your priorities.

faq-icon
What sort of handle should I look for on a mini pump?

Most mini pump handles are plastic but aluminium alloy and – very occasionally – carbon-fibre are also used. Some pumps have a handle that pivots outwards to form a T shape in order to spread the pressure more evenly across your palm

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What sort of piston should I look for on a mini pump?

Most mini pump pistons are made from aluminium but they're not all equally strong. Check the piston is robust enough that it won't buckle when you're pushing hard to get high air pressure in your tyre. Some pumps, such as the Topeak Roadie DAX, deliver air on the pull stroke as well as the push for quicker inflation

faq-icon
Why do some mini pumps have a hose?

Some mini pumps have a hose but most don't – the head is positioned directly on the end of the barrel instead. A hose usually has a head that screws on to a valve whereas other mini pumps are pushed on and normally have a thumb lock lever to keep them in place.

A hose can make pumping up an inner tube easier and helps avoid damage to the valve stem, but it also adds complexity to the design, along with a slight increase in weight and price.

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Do you need a gauge on a mini pump?

A few mini pumps have a pressure gauge – some markedly better than others. Reviewer Shaun Audane was surprised by the accuracy of the gauge on the Topeak Roadie DA that he tested (also available without a gauge). A gauge can be handy, especially if you're touring, say, and you're not going to have access to a floor pump between rides, but it would still be quite a long way down our list of important features.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.