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The claimed 100psi in eight strokes might be gilding the lily a touch - it took me 10 to get a 700x18 to that pressure - but Zefal’s Alaskan Graph floor pump is a pint sized powerhouse boasting excellent build quality, super steady base, tactile composite handle and accurate gauge. However, the design requires a more taxing push/pull rhythm and its compact size can leave taller riders feeling uncomfortably stooped during prolonged use – say pumping the tyres on multiple bikes. That though is a trade-off against what for many might be its usefully small size. Undoubtedly a good unit, some minor imperfections in the current model require ironing out to fully justify the price tag.
At over 2kg the Alaskan is reassuringly solid thanks to a predominantly metal construction which also makes for more efficient inflation and means that it shrugs off casual carelessness. Key to the design’s prowess is the double aluminium barrel delivering twice the pressure for each stroke of the wide and surprisingly tactile composite handle. Compact at 62 centimetres, it’s a great companion for race days and those needing to make efficient use of available space. However, standing a modest 1m 81, I felt uncomfortably stooped over longer periods, say when inflating a fleet of five or six bikes with flat tyres… okay maybe not a common occurrence for most people.
Positioning the gauge at the top would certainly help, although Zefal acknowledge this and are refining the design for 2011. Other changes include a smart head design-ours was the slightly fiddly, although arguably more durable reversible type. However, the integrated bleed valve is a godsend should you get carried away which is easily done given the design’s efficiency.
From zero to 120psi in a 700x24 took fifteen strokes - roughly forty seconds (twelve for a 700x20) and a very respectable twenty-two raised a 26x1.75 from pancake flat to the recommended 70. By way of comparison, my mainstay inflator manages the same pressures in twenty-two, seventeen and forty-six strokes respectively. While otherwise reasonably clear and accurate when checked against a separate digital unit, positioning the gauge at the feet can also make quick checks tricky so set the red marker against the desired pressure first.
Good, efficient track pump, some tweaks to the 2011 model help justify the price tag
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Make and model: Zefal Alaskan Graph track pump
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?
The Alaskan Graph is a compact but extremely efficient, high pressure double barreled track pump that delivers twice the pressure for each stroke (up to an eye-watering 230psi). Generally very competent but a few refinements would be welcomed given the asking price.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dual action aluminium barrel, aluminium feet, composite handle with soft integrated grip and rubberised handle lock. Reversable Presta Sharder head with bleed valve, 80cm hose. Maximum pressure 230psi (16bar)
Extended use can leave taller folk feeling uncomfortably stooped.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent inflation prowess makes short work of high pressure wire ons and tubulars,taking 12 strokes to raise a 700x20 from pancake flat to 120psi and a 26x1.75 from zero to 65 in a matter of 22 which is impressive by anyone's standards. The bleed valve can be a blessing in the event of force feeding 140 into a tyre intended for 125 but positioning the otherwise clear gauge atop the barrel would largely eliminate the problem.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid feel, amazing inflation prowess and tactile handle.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Swapping between Presta and Schrader valve heads was fiddly on our test model and modest height left me feeling stooped after prologed use. The head is being changed on the latest version which should address this problem.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, in the main
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Age: 36 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)