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Crankbrothers Sterling With Gauge

5
£44.99

VERDICT:

5
10
Accurately gauged and generally well-built pump, but high weight, low puff and suspect longevity disappoint
Accurate gauge
Quality frame mount
Sturdy head and latch
Inner barrel scores easily
Hard work at high pressure
Bit heavy
Weight: 
160g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

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The Crankbrothers Sterling With Gauge is a neatly designed, mostly well made small pump that reads accurately up to a theoretical 100psi (maybe The Rock could tell you, but I lack the biceps). The switch from low to high pressures is quick and effective, but the rigid head and demanding struggle at anything over 70psi means valve damage is a risk, and the alloy inner barrel is soft and prone to scoring. It empties you of air quicker than it fills a tyre.

With its steel and aluminium build, sturdy plastic head and that big, easy-to-read gauge, this pump is fairly heavy for its size. At 160g it's at least a third heavier than similar pumps that lack a gauge. However, if pressures are more important than weight, it's a gauge worth having. Comparisons with others show it's accurate and consistent, and it's easy to read.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

While the Sterling could probably survive a few tumbles – the plastic is stiff and robust, the body is alloy and the all-important valve latch is steel – it's not going to fall from its mount. It's extremely secure.

The pump clips into the plastic mount firmly, and is secured with a chromed steel bar on a silicone strap. Unusually, the head's dust cover is attached to this strap instead of the pump, which could be fine, but actually isn't. Gather round and I'll explain.

2020 Crankbrothers Sterling Short hand pump with gauge 3.jpg

The strap holding the dust cap is effectively a spring – it's corrugated and forced to stretch – and aligned at an angle the pump can't physically manage on the frame. This has the effect of twisting the steel locking lever into your down tube. This is fine until you hit anything rough enough to jostle the head, at which point the silicone strap fires it back into your paint.

This is easy to get around (ignore it or snip it off, though at the risk of unwanted extensions), but the easily damaged inner barrel is a trickier issue. The smooth clear coating over the matt alloy is soft and easily scored, with our barrel rapidly scratching at the end of the compression stroke. It still slides fairly smoothly, though I'm not confident about it staying smooth long term.

The dial on the base switches modes (0-40psi or 40-100psi) positively, and there's a big, noticeable difference in how much air it's shoving.

2020 Crankbrothers Sterling Short hand pump with gauge 4.jpg

That sturdy steel latch works well too, but I found it tricky to attach while pressing the pump on at the same time – the barrel spins away in your hand.

Combine the force needed near maximum pressure in either mode with the immovable head and, inevitably, you put a lot of sideways force on your valves. I never damaged one, luckily, but on occasion the air would stop going in – I'd obviously flailed hard enough for the valve to close.

2020 Crankbrothers Sterling Short hand pump with gauge 2.jpg

With a 28mm tyre, three minutes of pumping gets me to around 60psi, and I find anything past 70psi pretty hard going. Getting to 100psi with the Sterling would probably be harder than picking the bike up and walking home.

> How to choose the best tyre pressure

At £45 the Sterling is expensive, though it's potentially cheaper than a regular pump and a separate gauge – and gauged mini-pumps are fairly rare. The Topeak Roadie DA With Gauge is £27.99, though, with a sturdy build that's around 30g lighter too.

The choice of gaugeless pumps is huge around £30, and while Topeak's standalone digital SmartGauge D2 is £29.99, the LifeLine Digital is just £13.

The Sterling is also available without a gauge for £10 less at £34.99.

> Buyer’s Guide: 7 of the best mini-pumps

The Sterling With Gauge offers an accurate readout, some impressive design touches and a mostly solid build, but the easily scored inner barrel and general unwillingness at high pressure, combined with the high weight, make it an uncompelling choice.

Verdict

Accurately gauged and generally well-built pump, but high weight, low puff and suspect longevity disappoint

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Crankbrothers Sterling With Gauge

Size tested: 198mm

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?

Crankbrothers says this is a "Premium pump with a smart head that automatically adjust to schrader or presta valves."

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

Crankbrothers lists:

High volume / high pressure

length 198mm

pressure 100+psi / 7+bar

warranty 5 years

weight 141g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Extremely well put together, though the inner barrel finish is poor.

Rate the product for performance:
 
5/10

OK in high volume mode, but switch to high pressure and it's hard work at anything past 70psi, and pretty slow.

Rate the product for durability:
 
6/10

The inner chamber is soft and easily scored, which could cause problems.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
6/10

Big gauge means this is relatively hefty.

Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

Although mini pumps with gauges are rare, and this one's gauge is good, it's a fair bit more than some: the Topeak Roadie DA With Gauge is £27.99, and has a sturdy build that's around 30g lighter too.

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

Proves a bit fiddly and hard work.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Big, accurate and clear dial.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Weak performance and the slider.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

At £45 the Sterling is expensive, though potentially cheaper than a regular pump and a separate gauge – and gauged mini-pumps are fairly rare. The Topeak Roadie DA With Gauge is £27.99, though, with a sturdy build that's around 30g lighter too.

The choice of gaugeless pumps is huge around £30, and while Topeak's standalone digital SmartGauge D2 is £29.99, the LifeLine Digital is just £13.

The Sterling is also available without a gauge for £10 less at £34.99.

Did you enjoy using the product? Sort of.

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

Though generally very well made and specced, poor choice of materials in a critical part throws doubts on longevity. Add to that the mediocre performance and a slightly fiddly overall experience and the Sterling works out as average.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 183cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,

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