The Topeak RaceRocket HP disappears inside a standard jersey pocket yet inflates a tyre with less effort than you might expect given its size. It looks good and functions well, and Topeak's SmartHead makes it compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves.
At only 18cm the RaceRocket HP is, as I said, perfect for stashing in a jersey pocket – though it does also come with a frame bracket – but despite its small size it pumps effectively, inflating a tyre to 90 or 100psi with less pain than is often associated with mini pumps, thanks to a reasonable chamber capacity and a comfortable and tactile design.
The Topeak's body and piston are made from CNC aluminium polished to a high sheen. There's a rubber grip, which is a thoughtful addition, and Topeak also includes a valve core tool, hidden in one end.
At the other end a retractable hose is hidden under a rubber cap. Like many modern mini pumps the Topeak works 'backwards' – what was traditionally the handle is closest to the valve when pumping.
Topeak's trademarked SmartHead unscrews and slides upwards for Presta duties or stays in place for Schrader – it's a clever design that gives both versatility and security: it works by threading onto the Presta valve core as opposed to pushing onto the valve stem. The valve core tool is included in case you inadvertently take the core with you when you're unthreading the head, but this never happened to me. In any case, I found that you don't need to overtighten the head on the valve since it's impressively leak-free.
There's no risk at all of this happening with Schrader valves, since their threads are on the outside and they use a sprung pin rather than a removable core to lock in the air.
As for the pumping itself, achieving the claimed 160psi would have to be a World's Strongest Man event, a feat to rival the monster truck pull and the Atlas stones. This must be a bench-tested-by-robots figure as I reached the limit of my bicep endurance at 90-100psi – all you need in a 25mm tyre in any case.
For this sort of pressure in a standard 25mm tyre you're looking at around 300 strokes and well under five minutes including a couple of breathers. For reference, a floor pump like the SKS Rennkompressor would take under 40 strokes to reach the same pressure in the same tyre.
I did discover that the RaceRocket's SmartHead did not work with a Vittoria valve extender, the type into which you thread the removable valve core. The SmartHead didn't have enough internal diameter to clear a pronounced step onto the stem below the valve core, and so its threads could not engage with the valve core.
The other type of valve extender, which threads over the valve core (Zipp, Mavic etc), would not work either since it has no exposed threads. Both of these types require a press-on head with a locking mechanism, as used by the majority of floor pumps, or the type of mini pump that doesn't use a hose and has to be pressed and held onto the valve manually.
The Topeak is not the cheapest mini pump on the market, but it's not the most expensive either. Comparing it with the others in our buyer's guide to mini pumps it is priced below the Lezyne Road Drive L and the Birzman Infinite Apogee, both of which are admittedly bigger. For pumps of comparable size, it is priced fairly high, but it's a good quality pump that should last years.
It's almost a shame that the RaceRocket HP disappears so completely inside a jersey pocket because it looks so good. And on the occasions when it does reappear, it's reassuring to see it because you know for a fact that you're not going to be sweating over hundreds of ridiculously tiny strokes while your ride mates freeze to death. Just bear in mind that it's not compatible with certain valve extenders, so for me it's not quite the one mini pump to rule them all.
Smooth-functioning, sleek-looking, reliable mini pump that works a treat with standard Presta and Schrader valves
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Racerocket HP mini pump
Size tested: 18x2.6x2.1cm
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?
Topeak's UK distributor Extra says: "This elegant aluminium pump is designed with a narrow barrel and longer stroke that inflates up to 160psi with ease. "
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Barrel: CNC aluminum
Capacity: 160 psi / 11 bar
Handle: Aluminum / Rubber
Head: SmartHead™ ThreadLock w/ integrated dust cap
Fits Presta / Schrader valves
Size: 18 x 2.6 x 2.1 cm
Weight: 82 g / 2.89 oz
Volume per stroke: 25 cc
The CNC aluminium barrel and piston are beautifully made, as are the rubber and plastic parts. No reason not to give it a perfect score for construction.
The SmartHead threads securely to both Presta and Schrader valves and supplies a good airtight seal. The 160psi that Topeak claims probably would be possible for someone with gargantuan biceps and a vice-like grip... It does reach 100psi fine, and that's enough for most of us.
I would expect to get many years of use out of it.
There are even lighter and smaller carbon minipumps around, but those are generally flimsier and require more strokes to inflate a tyre than the Topeak: the Topeak's 300-ish to get you to 90-100psi with a 25mm tyre is at the upper end of what is a reasonable amount of pumping.
The hand closest to the valve is the one that takes the strain, and happily that gets the larger diameter section of the Topeak's body. The rubber grip helps the pumping hand to get a decent purchase on it. It's only when you're going over 100psi that arms and hands start hurting, and I'm guessing that the quoted 160psi was achieved by a robot in a bench test.
The Topeak RaceRocket HP is not the cheapest on the market, but the price reflects the excellent design and high-quality build.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I've been very impressed with its performance, given its size. When in Presta mode it threads to the valve core, which means there's an inherent danger of it taking the valve core with it when you unscrew it post-pumping, but I haven't experienced that. Also, since the head's seal on the valve is so good, there's no need to tighten it to the extent that this could happen. Worst-case scenario, there's a handy valve core tool under a cap at the end of the handle that will tighten it back up.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Since it's so short, it will stash completely in most jersey pockets without sticking out. You'd expect such a small pump to take forever to inflate a tyre, but you're looking at well under five minutes depending on your level of bicep endurance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't dislike anything about it, but it's worth noting that as the head screws onto the valve core, it is not compatible with the type of valve extender that screws on over the top of the valve. I also found it didn't work with Vittoria valve extenders for use with removable-core Presta valves. These have a pronounced 'step' between the core and the stem of the extender that stops the SmartHead from threading to the core.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Topeak is not the cheapest mini pump on the market but it's not the most expensive either, sitting below the Lezyne Road Drive L and the Birzman Infinite Apogee, both of which are admittedly bigger.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but I would make them aware that the threaded head is not compatible with all valve extenders.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's very good – I would happily use the Topeak RaceRocket HP as my regular jersey-pocket pump when I'm using regular valves – but the SmartHead not being compatible with certain valve extenders stops it scoring higher.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
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: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem
Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).