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What to look for when buying a floor pump

A track pump, also called a floor pump, is designed to inflate your tyres quickly and easily. A small, lightweight pump is great for carrying when you ride, but a track pump is the best tool for the job when you're at home.

It doesn’t need to be especially portable so, unlike most things in cycling, weight isn’t an issue. Instead, you want something that’s built solid so it’ll last you years.

Base

Birzman Zacoo Maha II - foot

Birzman Zacoo Maha II - foot

The base needs to be stable so wide is good. You usually put a foot on either side of the base to hold the pump steady. If you’re likely to use your pump on polished floors inside your house or flat, check for non-slip rubber contact points that won’t cause scratches.

Gauge

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - digital display

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - digital display

One of the advantages of a track pump is that you get a gauge that allows you to inflate your tyres to the correct pressure (some hand-held pumps have gauges but most don’t). Some are digital but most are dials.

The ability to set a marker to show your target pressure is handy. Some people prefer a gauge positioned at the top of the barrel rather than at the bottom for easier reading. A gauge at the top can be damaged if the pump gets knocked over so needs to be well protected. The important thing is that you can see it clearly, wherever it is.

Barrel

The barrel – the main body of the pump – can be made of various different materials. Because weight isn’t usually an issue, strong steel and aluminium are good options. The larger the barrel, the more air you can pump into your inner tubes with every stroke.

As well as getting your tyres pumped up more quickly, a large barrel will allow you to seat tyre beads in tubeless tyre systems, but beware if you're a very small rider: you might struggle to get higher pressures into your tyres with an oversized barrel.

Valve head/chuck

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - valve

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - valve

Most track pumps are suitable for both Presta (road type) and Schrader (car type) valves. Some have a dual head with different holes for different valves, some have a single hole that works with both, some have a chuck that you turn around according to the valve type. Sometimes you have to unscrew a cap and flip over a bung to swap between valves. That’s not a problem if you use the same type of valve all the time but it’s a bit of a pain if you use both.

SKS Airmenius floor pump - valve head

SKS Airmenius floor pump - valve head

If anything is going to fail on your track pump over time, it’s likely to be the valve head, so it’s a good idea to check that you can buy spares separately to save you buying a whole new pump.

Birzman Zacoo Maha III - hose

Birzman Zacoo Maha III - hose

Birzman use a Snap-It head on many of their pumps that locks onto Presta valves superfast and is equally easy to remove.

Lezyne Air Bleed System.jpg

Lezyne Air Bleed System.jpg

Lezyne use an ABS Flip-Thread Chuck that screws in place one way around for Presta, the other way around for Schrader. You can press a button to let air out of the hose making for easier removal from the valve.

Bleed valve

A bleed valve is a handy feature if you want to be very precise with the air pressure in your inner tubes. It allows you to let a little air out without removing the valve head from the valve.

Piston

The piston is the rod underneath the handle that forces air out of the barrel and into your tyres. Some pistons can be flexy meaning that you have to pump carefully to avoid destroying the whole pump. Go for something as sturdy as possible.

Handle

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - handle

Lezyne Sport Digital Floor Drive DV - handle

Handles come in a variety of different materials. Choose a handle that’s comfortable to use and, again, go for something sturdy that’ll stand the test of time.

SKS Airmenius floor pump - handle

SKS Airmenius floor pump - handle

Hose

Birzman Zacoo Maha II - gauge

Birzman Zacoo Maha II - gauge

A long hose – one that stretches the full length of the barrel and back again – can make life slightly easier although it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker.

Tubeless air tank

Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator.jpg

Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator.jpg

The growing popularity of tubeless tyres has led to a new pump category, with an extra chamber that provides a big burst of air to get a tubeless tyre seated. You pressurise the tank, and then release all the air into the tyre in one hit, blowing the tyre bead up on to the rim seat.

Weight and portability

The weight of your track pump probably isn’t much of an issue for you because it’s likely to live most, if not all, its life in your house or garage. You might want something relatively small and lightweight if you’re likely to take it with you when you travel to events/races, particularly if you’re flying.

Pressure

Check that the pump is capable of getting your tyres up to the pressure you need. The chances are that it will be, but bear in mind that some tubulars require very high pressures and some manufacturers exaggerate their pumps’ capabilities.

Looks

It used to be that track pumps were purely functional (or ‘boring’, depending on your point of view). Now you can get ones with polished steel or anodised aluminium barrels, wooden handles, and so on. They actually look cool.

Why pay more?

Pretty much every track pump out there will get enough air into your tyres relatively easily, so why not just buy the cheapest you can find and be done with it?

Well, pay extra and you're likely to get something made from better quality materials so it'll probably be more robust and last longer. If you only cycle rarely, that might not be much of an issue, but if you're a year-round cyclist, perhaps with several bikes to keep on the road, a better pump is more of an asset.

Plus, paying for a decent pump with a good head that locks firmly in place on the valve without leaking or working loose is definitely worth having. It makes life that little bit easier.

If you want a pump that's shiny and/or anodized with a wooden handle and a cool-looking gauge, it'll cost you more than a basic plastic pump, but you might not be interested in how the pump looks, especially if it's going to spend its whole life in the shed or garage.

Here are eight of our favourite track pumps at various different prices.

LifeLine Essential Track Pump — £14.99

Lifeline Essential Track Pump.jpg

Lifeline Essential Track Pump.jpg

There are lots of inexpensive floor pumps on the market, and this one from the mighty Chain Reaction/Wiggle mail order empire fulfils all the basic criteria, with a head that works with both presta and Schrader valves and a gauge at the top of the barrel.

Topeak Joe Blow Sport — £26.99

topeak-tjb-s5-zoom.jpg

topeak-tjb-s5-zoom.jpg

Great performance and build quality from a home workshop favourite. The construction is all-steel, with the pressed base bolted to the barrel. The Sport uses Topeak's TwinHead adapter, with Presta and Schrader valves sitting opposite each other and sharing a locking lever. It's a simple design that's simple to use. Both sides of the head accepted all the valves we tried with no leaks.

Read our review of the Topeak Joe Blow Sport II
Find a Topeak dealer

Zefal Profil Max FP60 — £34.29

Zefal Profil Max FP60.jpg

Zefal Profil Max FP60.jpg

Zefal's Profil Max FP60 is a decent floor pump and doesn't cost the earth. It's pretty well-made and is a pleasure to use. It looks like it'll go the distance and if the head wears out then replacement is available. The long hose, Z-switch head, big dial and smooth pumping action make it a pleasure to use, and it gets tyres to 120psi with ease.

Read our review of the Zefal Profil Max FP60
Find a Zefal dealer

Cannondale Airport Carry On — £40.49

Cannondale Airport Carry on Floor Pump.jpg

Cannondale Airport Carry on Floor Pump.jpg

Most cyclists have a couple of pumps: a mini pump for road-side rescue and a track pump for home inflation. The cycling industry is nothing if not adept at creating niches, however, and the travelling track pump might be just such a niche - for when you're on a biking holiday or just need to cram a lot of stuff in a small car for an event. Cannondale's Airport Carry On floor pump is just such a pump, with a capacity equal to many a full-sized track pump and a clever folding design to make it more packable.

Read our review of the Cannondale Airport Carry On
Find a Cannondale dealer

Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator — £37.99

Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator.jpg

Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator.jpg

The Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator is a workshop-quality tubeless air tank with well-thought-out features and excellent performance. It should last you a lifetime of tubeless setup, road or mountain.

Read our review of the Beto CJA-001S Tubeless Air Tank Inflator
Find a Beto dealer

Lezyne Sport Floor Drive ABS2 — £45

Lezyne Sport Floor Drive.jpg

Lezyne Sport Floor Drive.jpg

Lezyne's Sport Floor Drive pump uses its new ABS2 head for a leak-free fit on any type of valve without any faffing or changing, plus should you need to get 200psi into your tyres it's got you covered. The ASB2 universal head is really very good, and easy to use on either presta or Schrader valves. You literally push the head over the valve, slide the anodised cover forward, give it a quick twist to the right and, voila! you're sorted and secure.

The three-pronged base, made up of the two feet and the gauge,  gives a really stable feel to it when pumping up tyres. The wooden handle is comfortable to use too, and the hose is plenty long enough wherever the wheel valve is sitting.

Read our review of the Lezyne Sport Floor Drive ABS2
Find a Lezyne dealer

Topeak Joe Blow Elite — £44.99

Topeak Joe Blow Elite floor Pump.jpg

Topeak Joe Blow Elite floor Pump.jpg

The Topeak Joe Blow Elite brings with it the usual high level of build quality and easy usability Topeak has a reputation for. It has one very handy little addition, too.

The Elite has a really solid feel to it, from the steel barrel down to the steel base. All this adds to the weight, but what you get is a rigid platform when/if you want to get up to that 160psi maximum claimed pressure. It will happily reach 100psi on a 700x25 tyre in 27 strokes. Not market leading, but not something we'd grumble about.

The coolest thing about the Elite, and what sets it apart from the rest of the Joe Blow range, is that the gauge is mounted to the handle; not just to the top of the barrel – the handle. It's one of those things that you wouldn't think would make much difference, but not having to bend to see the needle doesn't half save you stooping over.

Read our review of the Topeak Joe Blow Elite
Find a Topeak dealer

Birzman Maha Apogee — £24.99

Birzman Maha Apogee III

Well made, beautifully designed pump that can justify a high price. Like many bike tools, it isn't until you use a really good version that you realise how important paying a bit extra can be. The Birzman Maha Apogee floor pump is a perfect example; it's certainly not cheap at its £54.99 RRP – though it isn't the most you could pay for a track pump – but it performs really well. At this price, it's a bargain.

Read our review of the Birzman Maha Apogee III
Find a Birzman dealer

SKS Airmenius — £73.73

Yes, it’s pricey but this is a fast action, beefily-constructed pro workshop pump, recommended for everyone but more petite mechanics. You get an unusually long barrel, a large and very clear pressure gauge, a really solid die-cast base and cork handles. The head is a flip lever one, with two push-fit ports for Schrader and Presta valves. The head is all made of plastic, but it's a solid, weighty affair that looks like it should last a long time.

Read our review of the SKS Airmenius
Find an SKS dealer

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump — £99.99

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump

If you've made the switch to tubeless road tyres and you're looking for a new track pump then the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger should be on your short-list. It's a good pump (admittedly with one drawback) but its ability to charge up and deliver a compressor-like stream of air to seat tubeless tyres is a really neat trick and one that it performs admirably, every time so far.

Read our review of the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger
Find a Bontrager dealer

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Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.

27 comments

Avatar
StraelGuy [1474 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Can anyone recommend a decent track pump from actual experience? I recently bought a Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2 and it's absolutely useless. It doesn't press the valve stem down at all so you have to lean on it repeatedly until the pressure goes right off the scale and actually pops opens the valve and you can inflate the tyre.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1340 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
guyrwood wrote:

Can anyone recommend a decent track pump from actual experience? I recently bought a Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2 and it's absolutely useless. It doesn't press the valve stem down at all so you have to lean on it repeatedly until the pressure goes right off the scale and actually pops opens the valve and you can inflate the tyre.

What? the valve is normally opened by higher pressure outside not be the connector pushing the valve open. Otherwise you'd lose air when you disconnected. Sounds like more of an issue with your valves.
I have a Joe blow 2 works perfectly, except when I forget to unscrew the valve stem. Then I have problems you describe.

Avatar
Mungecrundle [1002 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

I have a Joe Blow. Not sure if it is this exact model but it is big, yellow and made of metal. I have had it for at least 12 years and use it most weeks. It's just one of those pieces of equipment that sits in the corner of the garage, comes with me to races and events, does its job, has never let me down and pretty much goes unappreciated. If for some reason I lost it and without the benefit of using any other make I would replace it with another Joe Blow without a second thought.

I use it for tubular and clincher. Not sure how well it would work with tubeless. I have no experience of that tyre system.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [972 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
guyrwood wrote:

Can anyone recommend a decent track pump from actual experience? I recently bought a Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2 and it's absolutely useless. It doesn't press the valve stem down at all so you have to lean on it repeatedly until the pressure goes right off the scale and actually pops opens the valve and you can inflate the tyre.

I have that issue too, I use a presta to schraeder adapter (then you can get rid of the little lock ring thingy that holds the valve in place)

Avatar
StraelGuy [1474 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Thanks guys, the idea of having to overcome the existing pressure in the tyre is obvious but it's weird I have to pump until it's gone way past the 160psi point to the end stop before popping the valve. I may spray a touch of silicone spray into the cores to lube them and prevent sticking.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1340 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Mungecrundle wrote:

 Not sure how well it would work with tubeless. I have no experience of that tyre system.

you have to pump like a madman for 2-3 minutes, good aerobic exercise?

Avatar
Gasman Jim [218 posts] 7 months ago
4 likes
StraelGuy wrote:

Thanks guys, the idea of having to overcome the existing pressure in the tyre is obvious but it's weird I have to pump until it's gone way past the 160psi point to the end stop before popping the valve. I may spray a touch of silicone spray into the cores to lube them and prevent sticking.

Try depressing the valve core with your finger and releasing a quick puff of air from the tube before attaching the pump. Sometimes the valve core is just wedged a bit tight in the valve.

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jaysa [68 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

After 3 track pumps that (1) worked briefly, then wouldn't hold the stem, (2) could never clasp a valve extender and (3) just broke, mine's a Spesh Airtool 252HP

https://bikemagic.com/accessories/specialized-air-tool-hp-floor-pump.html

The trick was to ask the LBS mechanics what they used, and buy that.

In my experience, a solid, reliable gimmick-free valve fitting is key ...

Avatar
RoubaixCube [79 posts] 7 months ago
2 likes

Another satisfied Topeak Joe Blow Sport II owner here. I must of bought it at least 5 years ago and it still works as if I bought it just yesterday.

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StoopidUserName [460 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

As tyre pressure is supposedly so important why have I never seen a pump review that measures accuracy??

Road.cc you're missing a trick here...

Avatar
LarryDavidJr [391 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:
Mungecrundle wrote:

 Not sure how well it would work with tubeless. I have no experience of that tyre system.

you have to pump like a madman for 2-3 minutes, good aerobic exercise?

I indeed spent about an hour on and off doing this, trying to get tubeless road to pop without a pressure vessel.  I was a seriously sweaty mess in the end, so much so I felt like I had to log it in Strava as it was probably the hardest workout I'd done all week. 

New activity type?

Avatar
Ratfink [200 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
StraelGuy wrote:

Can anyone recommend a decent track pump from actual experience? I recently bought a Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2 and it's absolutely useless. It doesn't press the valve stem down at all so you have to lean on it repeatedly until the pressure goes right off the scale and actually pops opens the valve and you can inflate the tyre.

My one does that too.I think its because i bent the valve trying the wrong side of the adaptor.

Avatar
Blandman [22 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
StraelGuy wrote:

Can anyone recommend a decent track pump from actual experience? I recently bought a Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2 and it's absolutely useless. It doesn't press the valve stem down at all so you have to lean on it repeatedly until the pressure goes right off the scale and actually pops opens the valve and you can inflate the tyre.

Zefal HP , I've had one for about 6 years . Cheap ,solid ,faultless ,I recommend them 

 

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justDave [38 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

SkS Rennkompressor, in my case with a Hirame head. As used by pro mechanics (for decades). You  can't go wrong - it doesn't!

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LastBoyScout [455 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Have had a Topeak Joe Blow Sprint for the better part of 15 years and it's been brilliant.

The only time it stopped working was due to a worn O-ring in the barrel - easily replaced and worked perfectly again.

Avatar
partsandlabour [38 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
StoopidUserName wrote:

As tyre pressure is supposedly so important why have I never seen a pump review that measures accuracy?? Road.cc you're missing a trick here...

 

Exactly what I was going to say. Pump accuracy varies hugely across manufacturers. To do this review properly, you should have had a sample of say five of each pump and tested the pressure with a calibrated guage in-line to check the accuracy. If you're not going to do it properly, why bother? Have a look at DC Rainmaker tech reviews and take a leaf out of his book for thoroughness, it can only serve you well.

Avatar
Alexx_B [5 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes

Hi!

I want to change my tyres to the tubless ones on my CX bike, but I don't have any experience with tubless tyres.

Is it requires a special pump like the last one in the list? Or it is possible to inflate my tyres with the JoeBlow (or something similar)?

Avatar
StoopidUserName [460 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Alexx_B wrote:

Hi!

I want to change my tyres to the tubless ones on my CX bike, but I don't have any experience with tubless tyres.

Is it requires a special pump like the last one in the list? Or it is possible to inflate my tyres with the JoeBlow (or something similar)?

I think a lot of people use a co2 cannister if they don't have a suitable pump. That's just to get it on and make the 'pop'. You can use a normal pump after that

Avatar
ConcordeCX [835 posts] 7 months ago
3 likes
justDave wrote:

SkS Rennkompressor, in my case with a Hirame head. As used by pro mechanics (for decades). You  can't go wrong - it doesn't!

I bought one of these to replace my previous trackpump, which only lasted 17 years. This one should see me out. Whoever finds my rotting corpse can keep the pump as an, ahem, 'air loom'.

Avatar
ratherbeintobago [32 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
StoopidUserName wrote:
Alexx_B wrote:

Hi!

I want to change my tyres to the tubless ones on my CX bike, but I don't have any experience with tubless tyres.

Is it requires a special pump like the last one in the list? Or it is possible to inflate my tyres with the JoeBlow (or something similar)?

I think a lot of people use a co2 cannister if they don't have a suitable pump. That's just to get it on and make the 'pop'. You can use a normal pump after that

You can, but some sealant reacts with CO2.

Avatar
ktache [851 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

My Joe Blow Deluxe is almmost 20 years old.  On to the second smarthead valve, and an occasional strip, clean and squirt with WD40.

Avatar
wingmanrob [52 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
justDave wrote:

SkS Rennkompressor, in my case with a Hirame head. As used by pro mechanics (for decades). You  can't go wrong - it doesn't!

 

Quoted for truth 

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DavidC [163 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Zefal Husky — mine is 20+ years old and still going.

Avatar
Lancesky [12 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
StoopidUserName wrote:

As tyre pressure is supposedly so important why have I never seen a pump review that measures accuracy?? Road.cc you're missing a trick here...

Since not one single brand makes or design their gauges, they are sourced from a pool of gauge makers and its basic function is to be accurate. 

 

Avatar
Spangly Shiny [202 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Lezyne Steel Floor Drive for me. It uses the flip head chuck mentioned in the article and has an analogue gauge. I've been thoroughly impressed by it over the last 8 years or so of faultless inflation.

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vinnychoff [18 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I searched around for pumps and bought a  Silca Super Pista Pump  in Yellow. All the parts can be replaced and I have owned it for a few years now. The only delay is it is a screw on head. This takes a few seconds to wind on but is fine for me. Great pump, once you have your model of choice great if you can look after it and maintain it, replace parts if needed.

Vinnychoff

Avatar
StraelGuy [1474 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I recently bought a new Blackburn pump. I love the huge dial but the head was utter rubbish. I replaced it with a Hirame head from Track Supermarket in Japan and it's bloomin' awesome!