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    What pump should I get?  What about tire pressure?  

I have Vredestein Tri-comp tires on my Bianchi which ride at a recommended 145 (!!) psi. I have tried several pumps, returned many, and finally settled with Performance Bicycle's Hurricane Max. Its the only pump that can take the pressure. The others, including a Specialized, a Joe Blow with a smart head (that wasn't smart at all), and one other I can't remember all broke.

P.S. The Hurricane Max was also the least expensive.

Ken Kahn

Pumping road bike tires to proper inflation is work. The piece I am missing here is if you are talking having trouble with a floor model pump or one you use on the road?

If you are talking a home unit (floor pump) there are a lot of models out there that work well. They have recently re-designed them to feature their gauge at the top of the barrel where they are easy to read. Expect to spend 40 to 60 bucks here, but a good floor pump should last for years. Many models have rebuild kits available to extend their lifespan.

If muscle is your barrier, get a one way unit (some pump air regardless of the stroke direction) you want one where you can use your body to help push it down and not require a forklift to pull the plunger back up.

As to frame pumps, I use the Topeak Combo Master Blaster. It has the unique ability to become a floor pump. It features a pull down plate to step on, and the air nozzle is on a hose that swivels out giving you approximately 12 inches of hose. Its handle rotates 90 degrees to give you a nice stable "T" grip. On the nozzle is a gauge, however, it's not the most accurate, but it will, with a good sense of feel, get you back on the road quickly.

This bad boy pumps large volumes of air, also. I have used other frame pumps that were difficult to pump and only spat out puffs of air per stroke. It costs about 40 bucks but there is none better in my experience.

Its one bad feature is its size, I use GT frames that by having their "triple triangle" design makes the top tube unusable for frame mounting. Real sized people might able to use the downtube, but my short legs make my frame such that the second water bottle barely fits in and out. I carry my pump on my camelback.

Don "the pressure, I can't take the pressure" Bolton

I've thought about getting one of the little portable compressors for use with inflatable rafts, but I don't use them enough to justify the outlay. If I had one, I suppose I might try it out on the bikes.

As it is, I really, really like my Silca. I still have the old Medai that I used for years, but the seals are starting to go south, so it's not as hardy as it used to be. The Medai and others like it have a pressure reservoir to make it easier to get up to the high-pressure ranges... the Silca does not, so it takes a bit more effort. The Silca also has the most hassle-free Presta chuck I've ever seen, where the Medai is a compromise at best, what with being designed as a Schraeder pump from the outset.

Even though I don't ride at 140 psi, I had to give it a try the other day with the Silca... no problem. Could have kept going, but I didn't want to hurt the tires.

I'm not exactly a mountain of a guy... remember the Charles Atlas ads in the old comic books? I could have been the guy with the sand in his face. Maybe the difference in results is technique?

Anyway, since I'm a Presta-only rider, the Silca made good sense, and most good bike shops will sell replacement parts if the seal, hose, chuck, whatever wear out. I don't think the same can be said for any of the plastic fantastic pumps out there.

About frame pumps: By all means carry one! Full size ones are better than the little dinkys if you actually have to use them (bigger air chamber, more air per stroke, a little less time at the roadside). I've used Zefal's HPX for years. It's fairly basic except that you can turn the head and lock out the spring, so all of your effort goes into inflating the tire, not compressing the spring. They're convertible for Presta or Schraeder, come in several sizes for different frames, and have a very positive Presta chuck (can't speak for the Schraeder... never used it that way).

However... if you're using a frame pump as your primary inflation device, please consider stopping as soon as you can get a good floor pump! Repeated use of a frame pump can (WILL... believe me) wear out the tube around the stem, and you can't patch that hole! It took me a while to get wise to this, but after I got the Medai several years ago, my occurrence of flats went WAY down. It was a combination of the valve bases not being damaged and having really well-inflated tires under me all the time (no more pinch flats on bad roads).

For the third time running, my floor pump will be traveling with me on CO. The community pumps take a lot of abuse, and many of them don't make it through the week. It's a bit of a pain in the neck, but after the first day on CO IX, I'm convinced it's a good idea.

Scott Saulsbury

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Yes, I use CO2 and it works very well. I have and carry a pump on the bike but the CO2 is fast and easy to use. We like to run about 120 psi on the tandem which is difficult to reach by hand.

There are a couple of 'inflators' but I believe they are all from the same company, Innovations. Get the ULTRAFLATE, the YELLOW one. It is much better than the older, black Superflate. The Ultraflate is the latest version and works with anything: Presta or Schrader valves (without the use of an adapter), threaded or non-threaded cartridges. It has a trigger type valve so you can fill a tire slowly and inspect the beads to insure it is seating correctly. Buying a larger box of 12 gm unthreaded CO2 cartridges at a sporting goods store, ie GI Joes, is quite economical. In bulk they come in at about fifty cents each. From a bike shop maybe $2.50 each, ouch.... Forget the larger threaded cartridges as they are in that same $2.50 each range also. Just use two twelves...


  12 gm 16gm 25gm
700Cx23 94 psi 130 psi not recommended
700Cx26 90 psi 123 psi not recommended
26x1.5 41 psi 57 psi 92 psi
26x1.95 32 psi 36 psi 60 psi
26x2.125 28 psi 34 psi 54 psi

Innovations also makes a pump/CO2 dispenser combination. Might be just the ticket but I have no first hand experience with it.


After destroying a tube on Wednesday, I went in to Bike Gallery to buy new tubes and ask about the fleeting 140 psi. Tom at Bike Gallery said that it was not necessary to inflate to 140. The inflation number should intersect with the riders weight. I weigh about 98lbs and am 5'. So he said 100/110 would be more than enough.

Does anyone out there have an opinion on this? This certainly changes the tire inflation plan. ( I might return the air compressor).


I'd bet 100 psi would be adequate for you. Just what size tires are you using and what recommended pressure is marked upon them? Wider tires this 'big boy' rides, 700x28, are rated much lower than that. The Vittoria twin treads on my Colnago say max 85 psi (6 bar). Other 28's go higher than that, but size does matter.


The advice mirrors much that I have heard over the years... it just seemed like bad form to come right out and ask "How much do you weigh to make 140PSI necessary?" 8^)

Lighter riders get a much wider practical selection of tires and inflation ranges. You could run a very narrow tire at super-high pressure and have much less risk of flats than a heavier rider would. You'd get the benefits of lower rolling resistance and lower weight, but you'd get that bone-rattling ride, too. In fact, you'll get a harsher ride on any tire at high pressure than a heavier rider... one downside to being a bantamweight. (Note: I'm not recommending narrow tires... just noting the possibility. I rode 20s for a while, and consider 23s a minimum for me for comfort and durability. Unless you're competing, the negatives probably outweigh the positives for super-narrow tires.)

I weigh about 160 lbs. My Continentals (700 X 23) are rated to 120 psi, and that's where I keep them. At that pressure, I have not had a pinch flat (snakebite), and find that the rolling resistance/comfort balance is just about right. At your weight, though, you might find the ride a bit harsh.

Scott Saulsbury

As most of you know I have a new custom bike and the frame size is smaller than a regular stock bike. Finding the right size frame pump isn’t easy, plus, the pump holder on my carbon Trek rubbed the finish off the paint. I certainly don’t want that happening again. I’ve heard a lot of cyclists state that once you try and get use to the CO2 inflation system you won’t want to use anything else. (I heard that talk about clipless pedals and they were right there.) I’m processing the idea of the CO2 inflation system instead of frame pump but I want to hear some advice to help me process the idea.

I realize the CO2 inflation system is compact and lightweight. I would purchase the threaded/threadless system in order to have the capability of using any cartridge. What I don’t know is how dependable are they or are they just a big pain in the rear?

All of you that have used the CO2 cartridges, what is your opinion on CO2 inflation system?

Nanette "full of hot air" Hoheisel

Nanette, for my own taste I like the Topeak road morph. I used the cartridges for a while, but they were expensive, and if you do something wrong, you can lose the whole can. Yikes! Also, they didn't work too well w/ my high-pressure tires (145 psi). Let me know what you do!

Stace Gray

I just read Stacey's post, and she stated the biggest negative that I've heard about cartridge systems. Just how many of those little bullets are you willing to carry around to make sure you get serviceable inflation?

I understand the frame-fit dilemma, however. A couple of thoughts on that:

Have you ever seen people mount their pumps parallel to their SEAT tube? Inside the rear triangle? I have, but I don't know if your geometry will allow it. It might give you another pump size option. Your bike shop should be able to help determine if you can go that route and what pump might work for you.
Have you thought about carrying a mini-pump in your seat bag? It would give you a MAJOR upper body workout to inflate a high-pressure road tire, but it can be done. It gives you second, third, and fourth chances to get things right, too. If you're having a hard time seating the bead, those are not bad things to have! You can also mount one with a clip under your water bottle cage, like mountain-bikers do. It's not super-elegant looking, but it beats being stuck in the suburbs of Elsewhere without any way to inflate your tire.
A few years in Uncle Sam's Yacht Club taught me to never rely exclusively on CO2 cartridges... always have a manual backup available.

Scott "ex-airdale" Saulsbury

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I have been looking at the co2 systems also. Performance and Nashbar have a pretty good selection. Make sure that you get one that can use all kinds of cartridges.


Scott, you're right about that upper body workout. I carry a pump in my handlebar bag and it SUCKS to have to pump up a tire with it, but it works!

Wendi Thornton

My own two bits here...

My tire repair system consists of 1) dry-patches, 2) wet patch kit, 3) extra inner tube. I carry a Zefel frame pump, which doubles as my canine diplomacy system ("Diplomacy: n. the art of saying 'nice doggy' while searching for a rock").

The inner tube comes first. The other patches are for the second flat that I get. I always worry about the CO2 systems because, frankly, my Zefel never runs out of air.

Nanette, Don "largest Camelbak in existence" Bolton keeps a short pump on his Camelbak. Perhaps you might consider doing the same?

Jason "no Camelbak is big enough" Penney

Since you brought me up... I use the predecessor to the Topeak Road Morph (Combo Master Blaster). It offers the serviceability and ease of use of a floor pump while being a "frame" unit.

Like Nanette, I have small frames compounded by GT's triple triangle design (or the bladed aero tubing in one case). Nan doesn't like the camelback though. That, however, was my solution to having the pump I prefer on a geometry that wouldn't fit it. I'll bet she could create a "bandelero" sash to hold the pump in lieu of a Camelback though.

I have used Blackburns AS1 pumps prior. They had a mount that fit off the water bottle cage bosses. Being a weight lifter they worked fine, but the pump took forever to fill a road tire up to pressure at one puff at a stroke and the effort once one got near 100 lbs was not pretty.

Me, I would do *whatever it took* to have a "Road Morph" on hand when I needed a pump.

Don "only want to use the good stuff" Bolton

My two bits. I like low-tech unless there's a clear advantage to the alternative. I carry a short-stroke MTB-style on my hybrid, works fine for 95 pounds or less. I bought the Zefal pump at Performance (on sale, naturally) for my road bike. I got the correct length to spring-load into my frame, then realized it doesn't work with my bottle holder installed. Two velcro straps hold it under the top tube, perfectly. Since I don't cyclo-cross race, it's normally not in the way.

I'm a cheap short-timer without a lot of experience, and I don't drink bottled water. I haven't yet found a need to buy canned air. That's why God created tire pumps.

Maybe you should consider helium or hydrogen rather than CO2? Think of the weight reduction ...

Don "snide ain't cute, but what tha hey" Gross

The CO 2 bottles that are used for whipped cream (insert funny comment here) at Starbucks and other coffee joints also at many restaurants are the non screw in kind. We buy them at most restaurant supply houses (Boxer Northwest in Portland) Or have a friend in the restaurant business order you some. Current price is 2 dozen for around $13.00 , compare this to Nashbar's 3 for $4.59 plus freight. Same compressed air, not being sold to an elite type market sans the lower price.

BTW :We are switching to a larger hand pump this year after reading how many pumps it takes to get 100 psi from most small pumps. But still may go to a CO 2 system with less moving parts. A bad hand pump has stranded me before.

Chris or MaryAnn

From Nashbar: Innovations Second Wind. Looking for the ultimate pump? Look no further. Works on presta or schrader valves, uses threaded or non-threaded cartridges, and also is a mini hand pump if you run out of CO2! 6 inches length, fits all jerseys or most tool pouches. 92g. Threaded refill cartridges for inflators.

The cartridges are pretty small. I wouldn't ride without packing "three" cartridges with me, just in case.

Nanette "mini hand pump six inches long!! It'd take all day!!" Hoheisel

I'm reminded of the fact that pumps do age regardless of use. Seals dry out and crack, rubber ages and loses elasticity. It's a good idea to check the pump periodically and see if it still operates normally. Most manufacturers provide rebuild kits for the better units so keeping your old favorite isn't usually a problem.

I also carry a separate dial gauge for accurate pressure measurements. These too wear out, I find I have to replace them every two to three years.

I mentioned the Blackburn AS1 in an earlier post. Blackburn used a plastic pin for the pivot on the thumb lever. This broke on me once and I was unable to use the pump after till I pushed the stub out and inserted a bolt that fit thru which I locked in place using a nut. Look at your stuff and dig up some small items for field repairs and pack them in the toolbox. It can be the difference between walking home or riding.

Don "I like hiking but not carrying a bike" Bolton

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Wow, what great feedback!!

Good taste in pumps Stacey! I carry the Topeak Road Morph pump on my Carbon Trek and I love it, one of the best frame pumps on the market!! Thanks for all your good suggestions Scott!

I really appreciated everyone's input. It's a good chance I'll end up buying another new Topeak Road Morph for my new Davidson bike. It's small enough to fit on my frame somewhere. I'm not familiar with the Combo Master Blaster but I can guess it might be a bigger pump compared to the Morph. I want each of my road bikes to have it's own pump so I don't have to remember to always transfer my pump from bike to bike. I just need to figure out a way to attach the pump holder to the frame so the plastic fastener doesn't rub my finish off! Maybe somewhere on the back triangle of the frame or by the water bottle cage like Scott suggested.

I am still itching to try the CO2 inflation system but I think Stacey is right, those cartridges could run into money.

Nanette "I have yet to be successful in patching a tube" Hoheisel

Here's a somewhat tacky (literally) answer...

Wrap the attachment area with some tape or something similar. I have used electrician's tape (lotsa colors available). Just be sure you don't stretch it a lot or it will gradually shrink back to its original length leaving a lot of sticky goo.

However, I am not positive the stickum won't also attack your finish. You might ask your LBS what they use. I have seen tape on bikes many times.

Good luck!
Rox Heath

A couple of years ago, I got up at 7am determined to get in an hour's ride before I took my son to a class at 8:30.

So I was in a rush to get out of the house by 7:30, and in the process forgot to attach the pannier in which I usually keep a small pump, and so on. I remembered this about 5 minutes from home, but wasn't particularly fazed, since I had my tools and a recently purchased C0 2 cartridge inflator in my seat pack. I also realized that I had forgotten my wallet.

Wouldn't you know it -- 15 minutes out, just a mile or so beyond the edge of civilization, I get a flat. I whip out my spare tube, remove the punctured one, do a quick change and ready the C0 2 inflator. Pssst! It's inflated. Wow, that was fast. Then before my eyes and ears ... Tsssp (that's the opposite of Pssst)... it's deflated again.

What I had done, in my haste, was put the defective tube back in the tire. Not normally a fatal error -- except that I had only the CO 2 inflator, and only one cartridge. I started to walk home ... I didn't even have a quarter to call for help.

Since then, I bought a little six-inch long "toy" pump, and carry it attached to my bottle cage. This pump cannot get more than 100 lbs into a tire, but it will get me back on the road. I use it to make sure that the tube is centered on the rim, for testing tubes for holes, and so on. When I actually need to get the full 120 lbs, I have several options.

(1) Borrow a "real man's pump" from a passing cyclist. This usually works quite well!
(2) Find a gas station. I carry a Schraeder to Presta adaptor in my tool kit.
(3) Use the CO 2 cylinder. Yes, I still carry it; as a _supplement_ to a pump it is really useful.

I would never rely on C0 2 as my only source of inflation.

The reason that I don't just carry one real pump is that, like Nanette, there is nowhere on my frame to put it. My Blue bike actually has pump pegs brazed on to the left seat stay, but it is no longer possible to get a pump that fits those pegs. The Carbon Trek has no space for a decent pump, and no fixing's for one -- there is barely room for the second water bottle.

I also now carry a few coins and bills in my seat pack.

Andrew "we live and learn" Black

I bought the type of pump that hooks on with the waterbottle cage. These have been great. No damage to the frame. They even have one with a gage on it. My son, Mikkel, has no trouble pumping enough air into a tire to make it work. I was also able to effectively use them.

Mikkel mentioned something the other day about a mini pump that kind of converts to a very small floor pump. That might be worth looking for.

We never went with the CO2 in part because of the expense (I have children who would play with it) and, because out on the road, I never wanted to try to blow a tube up by mouth. I just do not have that much hot air.

Geri Bossen

First timers here: We were wondering if we have to bring our floor pump on the ride, or if there will be ample pumps available for topping off our tires as we go? What say you?

Victoria Gilbert

There will be ample bike pumps available at the bike shops in camp. You can conveniently pump up your tires as you leave each morning if you need to.

The bike techs also bring pumps (and tools, tires, and bike parts) along on the ride. You can use the pumps at the rest stops, get help fixing a flat along the road, and even get minor adjustments at the rest stops.

It's pretty amazing what the bike shops do: They set up shop each day in camp, with all items of bike paraphernalia, apparel, and personal care products for sale, in case you forgot anything, or simply need or want something new. If your bike should need some kind of repair, you leave it at the shop in the evening, and those fabulous bike techs will work into the wee hours if they need to, to get you and everyone else on the road by morning! It's quite wonderful!

Susan Christie

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While the bike mechanics do have floor pumps available you may opt to bring your own anyway. In the mornings the line to use the pumps can be long and sometimes the chucks that grip the tube stems get worn out and you may actually loose air. It's not too hard to squeeze in a floor pump at the top of your bag (unless you've put that barca-lounger and 24 pack cooler in there.) It's the last thing I pack before I zip up my bag and it eliminates one extra line to stand in.

Ray O.

I agree with Ray. It's good to have your own source of air, or at least team up with someone who does. Certainly it isn't necessary that everyone on the ride take their own pump, but I would not rely on the pump-farm that Bike Gallery provides. BG performs a tremendous service on CO, but the pumps take a beating and might not always be serviceable.

If your valves are Schraeder, and you have a pump that you really like at home, think hard about bringing it along. My personal experience with many Schraeder attachments is that you stand as good a chance at losing pressure as you do gaining it.

My Silca comes with me on every CO, and I have no problem with anyone who needs it using it, but its Presta-only. I know that there are lots of other riders who share their equipment as freely, and some of those pumps will work for Schraeders.

Scott Saulsbury

A note...

Cold AM temps and bike outside all the time. Things like chain wax turn to goo, tire pressure reads lower than it will run at when things warm up.

Recommend you do your bike prep in the afternoon just before heading to the shower. I also recommend you purchase a Topeak Road Morph pump then you have the best of both worlds. A frame pump that converts to a floor pump, has significant volume per stroke, and is a blessing when you have a roadside pumping job.

Don "welcome to a truly remarkable adventure" Bolton

Even though I won't be able to attend this year, I'd still recommend bringing a pump. There are some really compact nice ones that are fairly inexpensive that screw straight onto the spigot. The hand double telescopes and the wider volume on the pump puts plenty of air in the tire, and is very durable. The chamber is usually steel instead of plastic like some pumps and when closed is only 6 inches long and can be bolted on underneath the bracket for a water bottle on your frame (it’s actually designed for that)

The one I have was packed as Air Assualt and was found for around $10-15 at Costco. It is durable enough to take a lot of heavy pumping without leaking. I have tested this fact thoroughly as I have pumped up a Truck tire inner tube many times with it. The pump will get warm, but the seal will not give.

Matthew Rivard

Here is my take on the pump thing.

In previous years I have brought a lightweight (plastic) floor pump for use in camp, and a really silly 6" long mini-pump for use on the road.

I bring the floor pump as part of my job as TBB Deputy Camp Mechanic. (I also bring a 5lb + set of bike tools :-) The pump lives outside my tent, and has probably been used by half the people on this list. That is the idea. Some of them even managed to figure out how to get the pump head off of their tires without loosing all of the air ;-)

As for the mini-pump, my reasoning is this. There is no real place on my very small frame for a full-sized frame pump. I have been left stranded by CO2 inflators when I had one more flat than cartridges. So I compromise on the mini-pump. If I really need to get up to 120 psi, I can guarantee that this pump will not do the job. 80 psi is doable, 100 psi is possible if you try really hard and know the right technique.

The point is: I've never had to use it. Remember, this is Cycle Oregon. Invariably, long before you get to the point when you are ready to put the wheel back in the frame and pump it up really hard, some other cyclist will have stopped and offered to help. "Hi there, do you need anything?" "Why, yes! Do you happen to have a decent pump? This thing is ***ing useless."

I figure that I'm paying my dues by offering my floor pump for use around camp, so it will be OK to depend a bit on the kindness of strangers if I need a pump on the road. In any case, my mini-pump will get me rolling again, and there is bound to be a decent pump at the next rest stop.

This strategy obviously has the approval of the "powers that be", because, in three years of Cycle Oregon, I have never had a flat :-).

Now, for my unsupported tour in Wales, I realized that I could not rely on this method. I also needed a way of pumping up my tires each morning. So I bought a Topeak Road Morph, which Don has already recommended and described. It is an excellent pump; it really is almost as good as a floor pump, and certainly much better than any other frame pump that I have ever used. I even managed to find a place for it on my bike (alongside the water bottle cage on the seat-tube, using the clips from the mini-pump)

However, someone "upstairs" must have noticed this: in Wales I got four punctures in two days 8-(

Andrew "bring your own pump this year" Black

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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