Combining most of the portability of a pocket pump with the advantages of a track pump (some of them, at any rate), the Vel Air Flow TRV pump will get your tyres up to surprisingly high pressures with consummate ease at the roadside should the puncture fairy get you.
The mini track pump is not a new concept. The first to do a proper job of it was Lezyne, and its Micro Floor Drive is probably the best known example of this sort of pump. At 30cm long with a 21cm stroke, the Vel pump has almost identical dimensions to Lezyne's pump and is slightly lighter. It's nicely made from CNC'd and anodised aluminium with the fold-out foot made from really thick steel wire.
You could carry this pump in a jersey pocket, and I have done so on occasions, but most will probably either use the resin mounting bracket or chuck it in a bag. I favoured the latter as (as with the Lezyne pump) I found that the frame bracket allowed the ends of the pump to rattle against the downtube, which could cause paint damage fairly quickly so I abandoned the bracket on the first ride.
The anodised aluminium construction is well finished and overall it has the look of a good quality product. The piston slides very smoothly in the barrel meaning that all of your effort is going into putting air into the tyre. This - together with the large fold-out wire foot and the comfortable barrel - meant that reaching high pressures was impressively easy.
I used a 25mm road tyre to compare the Vel pump with my Lezyne, and - as you might expect given their similar dimensions - they inflated at a similar rate, each reaching 90psi after 150 strokes. However, with the Lezyne I was disinclined to keep pumping much further as the handle is less comfortable and the higher friction meant it was much harder work. With the Vel pump, a further 100 strokes took the tyre to 140psi and while the pump was starting to get warm, it had more to give and I am confident that I could have reached the claimed maximum of 160psi. But really, who needs 160psi beside the road? Even noted road.cc tyre pressure masochist Stu Kerton doesn't go that high.
So far, so good for the Vel pump then. You'll notice in the pictures that the hose runs only one length of the barrel - it's about 25cm long. This sounds like quite a bit but it's less than half of what you get with the Lezyne pump which loops up and over the handle. What this means is that you need to spin the wheel such that the valve is pretty close to the bottom before you attach the Vel pump. I found on deep section rims that it was much easier to use the Lezyne with its longer hose.
Moreover, if you do have deeper rims and use valve extenders, this may not be your pump. The pump head uses a screw-on attachment with an o-ring to ensure a seal. I couldn't get the valve extender to fit through this o-ring enough for the thread to engage with a Presta valve. That head is reversible, incidentally, allowing use with Schrader valves too.
One thing which is missing from this pump is a pressure gauge. I like the reassurance of the little pen gauge in my Lezyne, as boredom and laziness otherwise inevitably result in me concluding "that's probably enough" at 50psi if I rely on the squeeze test. Most pocket pumps don't have gauges, but but both the Lezyne and the similar Unich pump we tested a couple of years ago do, so it's a shame that Vel couldn't squeeze one in.
All in all, the Air Flow TRV puts in a creditable performance and if achieving high pressures when away for home is a priority, this is perhaps as good as it gets. If it seems like I've mentioned a certain other pump rather a lot in this review, that's in part because it's such an obvious influence on the Vel pump, even down to the recessed rubber ring in the base of the pump to help grip on the ground while pumping.
The bottom line is that I found the Vel a nicer pump to use, especially at higher pressures, but it lost out in practical terms due to the shorter hose length, lack of pressure gauge and problems when used with valve extenders. Horses for courses.
List price is £45, which is comparable to the other pumps I've mentioned above. These are all towards the upper end of the market for this sort of pump and other brands such as Topeak have offerings at lower price points. Having used some of them, they are functional but certainly not as well made or nice to use as these more expensive options.
Smooth, powerful mini track pump reaches high pressure with ease, although a gauge and longer hose would be good
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Air Flow TRV pump
Size tested: One
Tell us what the product is for
A mini track pump aims to offer the best of a track pump (ease of pumping, ability to reach higher pressures) with some of the portability of a pocket pump.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
It's 30cm long and weighs a fairly pocket-friendly 200g. Comes with a frame mount that can attach under a bottle cage, but I mostly carry this sort of pump in a bag.
Claimed max pressure of 160psi is - for once - pretty plausible.
Easy to hit high pressures, comfortable in the hand too. Loses a mark as I couldn't get it onto my valve extenders.
I'd expect the anodising to show signs of wear. I'd expect the o-ring seal inside the head to wear out over time, but at least you could just replace the screw-on head if it did.
A little less than the Lezyne, but quite a chunk more than the Unich.
Reasonably expensive for a roadside pump, but certainly nicer to use than cheaper alternatives.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - I can't think of another portable pump that could hit high pressures as easily as this.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfortable handle, smooth action, really easy to get up to pressure.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of gauge, short hose, incompatibility with my valve extenders.
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 overall score
It's a very nice pump to use and I found it notably more efficient at reaching high pressures than alternatives. I'd maybe give it a full 5 stars if I could fit it to all my bikes and if it had a pressure gauge onboard.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
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, time trialling, cyclo cross, 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.