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 III floor pump is a perfect example; it's certainly not cheap at £54.99 – though it isn't the most you could pay for a track pump – but it performed really well throughout the review period.
We've looked at track pumps from the Taiwanese company before, and were impressed with both the Maha Zacoo II and the Maha Zacoo III. Like those 2013 models, the Maha Apogee III has a highly polished base, barrel and gauge surround. It also has the same wide three-legged base, providing masses of stability when you're pumping.
The Apogee III has a polished wooden handle, as did the Zacoo III (the Apogee II, like its predecessor the Zacoo II, has an extruded and CNC machined aluminium handle). What is different – on the silver version anyway – is that the Snap-It Apogee head has been given a 90-degree bend, making it an L shape rather than the straight valve of the previous version (the grey model still has the straight valve).
The Apogee adaptor can also be used on both Presta and Schrader valves simply by sliding the collar up or down; with the previous pumps you had to unscrew the head and remove it for Schrader valves.
Another change is that the plastic clip on the barrel for holding the head has been replaced with a metal bracket on the base, making what was a very good looking pump even better. An extra 10cm has been added to the hose – it's now 125cm – so it's long enough to reach over the top of the handle and clip into place at the base on the opposite side. It's held here well and has yet to pop out without warning.
The part I like best is the way it connects to Presta valves: you simply slide the collar forward onto the valve, then give it a slight twist. It provides a vice-like grip on the valve without damaging it at all. As a test I tried to remove it without lifting the collar and I couldn't get it off. It means that absolutely no pressure is lost when inflating.
Like its predecessors, the Apogee has a five-degree tilt towards you, which Birzman say helps with the pump action; I can't say I noticed this, but it was very easy to use.
The barrel performs well and I could place my finger over the valve, then off, then on again, to start and stop the handle. It's a good way to see how well the pump holds pressure, and in this case it's very effective, starting and stopping sharply.
Birzman claim the Apogee III can provide 220psi, and I reached 120psi in 29 pumps, which is both easy and quick. I actually got up to 140 without too much of a problem, but stopped as I didn't want to destroy my inner tubes.
The gauge is at the bottom of the base, but thanks to its relatively large size and white-on-black writing, I could easily see where I was. A pressure release button lets you open the valve in a controlled way if you've overdone things, so you can hit exact pressures very easily.
Coming in at £54.99 the Apogee III is certainly not cheap, but if you are pumping up tyres frequently or you just want a top quality track pump, you won't be disappointed by how quickly it engages and then inflates.
Well made, beautifully designed pump that can justify a high price
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Make and model: Birzman Maha Apogee III floor pump
Size tested: 5 Degree floor pump, Silver
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?
Aimed at the more elite areas of the market or for those who want a good looking pump in the corner of the room. It certainly fits both, managing to effectively marry form and function to create a genuinely top quality pump.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product:
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 / 15 bar max with Presta/Schrader compatibility
6.Color option: Silver and grey
7.Silver pump comes with new L-Shaped Snap-It Apogee adapter ( Controlled Air Discharge )
Beautifully designed full aluminium build with polished wooden handle. Feels solid, stable and high quality.
No air leakage, quick inflation and stable pumping. What else do you need?
Solid aluminium and strong performing barrel mean no reason not to expect this to last for ages.
Rounded wooden handle is comfortable to use and with few strokes needed to get to desired pressure there is little chance of muscle ache.
Might seem expensive for some, but you could spend twice the price and the performance is unlikely to be better.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfectly, easy to snap on and off the valve, quick inflation and looks nice sat in the corner of the room.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Snap-It head is deserving of the Taipei Cycle d&i Award; a great invention which makes inflating tyres and getting the exact pressure a breeze.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
At some point I know I will scratch the highly polished aluminium.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Great pump, both in use and looking pretty in the corner.
Age: 27 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed
George spends his days helping companies deal with their cycling commuting challenges with his company Cycling for Work. He has been writing for Road.cc since 2014.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.