Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump

9
£22.99

VERDICT:

9
10
Very small, light and functional way to get rolling again, for both valve types
Weight: 
79g

The Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump is really small, light and nicely made, with a crackingly good head. Made to Birzman's usual high standards, it's a tidy bit of kit.

  • Pros: Small, light, excellent valve-holding and air-sealing, rebuildable with two spare seals included
  • Cons: Getting to the maximum pressure is hard – and keep an eye on the brass ring

We've reviewed many Birzman mini pumps over the years, and they typically rate well – the Apogee head is a proven winner of a design. The Mini Apogee is its smallest and lightest pump, designed for a pocket or frame bag – definitely not a bottle cage mount. Hence there's no attempt at any sort of dust or mud cover over the head or pump body.

> Find your nearest dealer here

At 136mm long it's shorter than your average-sized modern mobile phone, and at 79g about half the weight. So physically it disappears into even the tightest or shortest jersey or shorts pocket alongside your other kit. Depending on design, it's pretty likely it'll fit into your saddlebag or pocket tool pouch too.

The build is pretty much all alloy, with plastic reserved for a few internal parts. It's a single-action pump, meaning it only inflates on the inward stroke – doubling inflation time but reducing complexity, size and weight. There's also no pressure gauge as on some other Birzman models, so the Thumb-O-Meter it is.

Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump - extended.jpg

The Mini Apogee's party trick – as with most other Birzman pumps – is the globally patented Apogee head. This beautifully engineered masterpiece of miniaturisation comprises a threaded outer and a floating spring-loaded piston, which moves to fit the valve centre pin, then locks in place as the head collar is pressed down. There's a handy 'Unlocked' stamped in white on the head when the collar is pulled back.

Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump - valve head.jpg

Once pushed into place and locked, the whole head is threaded down onto the valve – one 360-degree twist for Presta, or three turns for Schrader ('car tyre valve'). The Schrader needs more threaded-on depth as that then pushes down on the valve pin, opening the valve allowing air to flow in. This extra threading then needs to be unthreaded to remove, whereas for Presta valves you can simply pull back the collar and remove the head.

Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump - valve head extended.jpg

If all this sounds complicated, there's a funky video linked to by a QR code on the packaging that explains it.

One point of note is that the brass ring that threads onto a Presta valve can come loose over time, and using a different Birzman pump with the same Apogee design I have inadvertently left it behind on a Presta valve. This led to a calamity of lost tubeless air the next time I tried to inflate a Presta valve, but that's a whole different road.cc story that isn't really Birzman's fault. It's this brass ring that you remove to fit a replacement O-ring once the original wears out, and it's easily tightened with a flat screwdriver or any thin implement. Personally, I'd recommend a tiny dab of Loctite on the outer thread, just to be sure it stays put. There are two spare O-rings included in a packet with the Mini Apogee, along with the reminder to replace them with the O-ring groove facing inwards.

> Buyer's Guide: 6 of the best mini pumps

Inflating a 23mm 700C tyre took 200 easy strokes to get to a get-me-home useable 63psi. From then on it started to get more difficult, 250 strokes measuring 78psi, at 300 strokes a rather painful-to-hold 90psi, finally hitting 102psi after 350 strokes. By this point you really need to be wearing gloves with decent heel padding, as it becomes hard to hold the slick alloy barrel, and the palm of the hand holding the head and valve still is getting mightily punished by the small circular head. With gloves on you can push on another 100 strokes to 125psi. So, kudos to Birzman for making a pump capable of exceeding its advertised maximum, but you do need to work hard to get there.

During this entire fun-fest, the Apogee head remained solidly locked to the valve and didn't emit a whisper of air – impressive given its small size, light weight and the amount of welly needed to progress past 90psi. A few practice insertions and removals at 100psi were just as impressive, only the expected small psssht of air escaping from the internal valve-head cavity.

> How to choose your tyre pressure

I really can't think what's not to like about the Mini Apogee. Clever, functional engineering, small, lightweight, spares included, and a two-year warranty. And most importantly it inflates securely, as quickly as can be expected given the size, with no loss of air. The £23 price tag is wallet-friendly too: it's on a par with mini pumps from other reputable brands, as highlighted in the roundup above, but all of these pumps are considerably longer/heavier than the Mini Apogee. It's definitely one to consider as your fast-and-light roadside air option.

Verdict

Very small, light and functional way to get rolling again, for both valve types

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Birzman Mini Apogee Hand Pump

Size tested: 13.6 x 2.3 x 3.8cm.

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?

Birzman says: "The very essence of elegance, mobility and power all packed into a sleek compact package. With its reduced size, you won't notice it sitting quietly in your jersey pocket until you need it."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Birzman lists:

Head

Snap-It Apogee (Presta / Schrader)

Barrel

CNC machined aluminium

Size

13.6 x 2.3 x 3.8 cm

Weight

75g

Capacity

120 psi / 8.3 bar

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Can't fault the materials or assembly.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Secures fast, stays put, smooth action.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Feels solid enough for such a light pump.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
10/10

Really light.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Price-wise it's on a par with mini-pumps from other reputable brands, as highlighted in our roundup. But all of those pumps are considerably longer/heavier than the Mini Apogee – which marks it out a a winner.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Really well – can't fault it.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The head. It's all about the head.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing, really.

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

Considering the dimensions, weight, head quality and price, the Birzman Mini Apogee is very hard to go past as a pocketable or saddle-bag pump that can – given time – get you to pretty much whatever pressure you want. I'd say it's exceptional, so 9/10.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is: Velocite Selene

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling.

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