Bike Pumps: Discover the Features That Matter

By Steven Harrisson, April 26, 2018


Every bicycle enthusiast needs to be prepared to deal with a flat tyre, or to top off their tyre to the optimum settings. Buying a bike pump for that purpose is something worth considering, but with the many different types of bicycle pumps available nowadays, how does one go about picking the right one? There are various different features of modern bicycle pumps, and getting the right one will require you to consider what matters to you.

For starters, you need to consider the valve type when buying bike pumps. There are two basic types – Presta and Schrader valves. The Presta valve is thin, long and typically found on high performance bikes that need high air pressure. Schrader valves are typically more secure and wider than Presta valves. That being said, the heads of both of these bike pumps are quite different. However, there are interchangeable pumps that have attachments for both types on the same pump.

Next, consider the air pressure that the pump can provide. The standard for road bikes is 85-130 psi, while for mountain bikes it’s 30-50 psi. For that reason, you shouldn’t get a pump with over 200 psi if you don’t really need it. Additionally, pumps with higher psi can sometimes provide lower volume per pump or have a gauge that’s not accurate. That being said, you want a pump that’s a decent balance of all these items while still providing you with sufficient air pressure for your tyres.

Furthermore, consider the gauge. Smaller pumps typically don’t feature a gauge, but larger ones, like track and electronic pumps, may have one. Find gauges that can easily measure and read the range of the air pressure used by the bicycle. Nowadays it’s completely possible to find a digital gauge that is both accurate and easy to read. However, they come at a higher price. Regardless, gauges can be a worthy investment as they ensure you always pump the right amount of air pressure into the tyres, thus extending the life of your bike.

Lastly, consider the materials the pump is made from. Generally, you get what you pay for, so expect to pay more for pumps made of metal. However, metal pumps are also more durable and last much longer. The alternative to metal is plastic, and while plastic pumps may be cheaper, they wear down quicker. Depending on your budget, you should consider investing in a pump that will hold up even after you have been using it for quite some time.