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The Fabric Nanobar is a beautifully built alloy-bodied mini-pump with some genuinely useful features and a lovely smooth action. It's a great size for jersey pockets, though it still comes with a frame mount, but it shifts such a small amount of air that you'll probably give up way before its theoretical 120psi max. It's a little fiddly to attach, too.
Call me a nerd, but the Nanobar is a lovely looking thing and, better still, the brushed aluminium casing feels good too – almost soft to the touch, with a useful amount of grip. The head is that very tough, slightly flexy plastic that's nigh-on impossible to break, while the threads you rely on for valve sealing are machined into aluminium inserts. Importantly, it's built to last, not just look good. The shaft is metal too, and whatever bushes or seals lurk inside do a great job of keeping the tubes sliding parallel without binding or jamming.
The pumping action is very smooth – but it's also short. With just 10cm of extension, and a valve that only pumps on the compression stroke, it takes an awful lot of effort to move any meaningful amount of air.
Fabric says this can take tyres up to 120psi, but raising one of my 28mm Continental tyres from flat to a rideable (if squishy) 55psi takes a solid five minutes of pumping. Getting it to my preferred 90psi takes another five minutes, and by then the pump is getting pretty warm, the 75mm front section is getting hard to grip, and I am getting too tired to ride anywhere. For comparison, the 18cm Topeak Roadie DA takes 3.5 minutes to take the same tyre to 55psi.
The Nanobar's plastic head pops from the body to extend a little 6cm hose, and that flex definitely helps with keeping it seated while you're pumping. The convertible head works very neatly too, with one (tiny) proviso – you have to unscrew and pull out the plunger on the back to use Presta valves. If you're a roadie you're probably using these rather than Schrader, meaning you have to do this every time. If you leave it in Presta mode the plunger is free to stick out, rattle and ingest dirt.
Another tiny annoyance: the metal barrels spin inside the plastic head to allow you to screw it to the valve, which is good, but there's a lot of resistance and it's a rather gluey-feeling operation. It's not a huge issue – though it can fool you into thinking it's sealed on tight when it's actually leaking air – but neither is it a plus point when your hands are numb and wet.
At just over 18cm long it's just right for disappearing into a jersey pocket, and that lovely metal build isn't actually heavier than most plastic or plastic/metal mixes. It also sits securely in the included frame mount, which comes with a silicone strap, stainless steel bolts and a suitably swoopy matt-black design.
One of the Nanobar's biggest problems is the sheer amount of pumps available, especially those – such as Topeak's £33 RaceRocket HP – which are lighter, faster and slightly easier to use. Many don't have the looks of the Nanobar, if that matters, but then again Birzman's tiny £23 Mini Apogee is also alloy, weighs just 79g and is no less effective than the Fabric. And call me a nerd again, but it looks really nice.
The Fabric Nanobar mini-pump has the high quality to back up its high style, and is a pleasingly tactile thing just to hold and admire. It's slightly less pleasing to use, unfortunately, and that's mostly down to its sheer lack of puff. For emergency use and reliable posing the Nanobar is a winner, but its performance isn't as impressive as others out there.
Really well-made, good looking pocket pump that functions well – if slowly
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Nanobar mini-pump
Size tested: 18cm, 120psi max
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?
Fabric says: "The Nanobar offers a winning combination of portability and power, delivering 120psi inflation from a 180mm body."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fabric lists these specs:
Extendable hose & head system
Protects valves & easy to use
Ultra compact & lightweight
For high pressure tyres
Pressure: 120psi / 8.3bar
It works perfectly, if slowly.
Build and material choices promise a long life.
On par for a mini pump, and barely heavier than plastic options.
It's at the upper end of the £20-£30 average, but it's really nice quality.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Inflates tyres just fine, but takes a while and a lot of effort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Premium look and feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Takes ages to inflate a tyre and is a little faffy with Presta valves.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Build quality is excellent and it looks lovely, but it is quite slow to inflate a tyre compared with other mini-pumps.
About the tester
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,