Bike pumps guide

A good bike pump is essential for a cyclist. Riding with correctly inflated tyres not only produces a faster ride with smoother handling but it also helps prevent punctures. As bike tyres can lose up to 10 PSI per week a good bike pump is a worthy accessory to add to your arsenal. In this post I’ll take you through what to look for to make sure you don’t waste your money on the wrong one. I’ll also round up some of the best bike pumps that are well recommended.

The 5 things to look for in a bike pump

  1. Head: Your bike has either a Presta or a Schrader valve. Choose a bike pump that will fit your valve type or one that can fit both.
  2. Pressure: The best bike pumps can reach higher pressure levels. You can find out what kind of pressures you need by looking at the maximum levels on your tyres. Road bike tyres can have pressures exceeding 100 PSI where as mountain bikes are around 50 PSI.
  3. Gauge: You should keep your bike at the pressure levels indicated on the tyres. A gauge will help you measure the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). Ideally look for a bike pump that includes one.
  4. One for on the road, one for at home: Whilst the small bike pumps are great for carrying around with you at all times, the track bike pumps can reach higher pressure levels with far less effort.
  5. Durability – generally speaking the smaller bike pumps wear out faster than the track pumps

Track/Floor Bike Pump

The bike pump for road/hybrid cyclists who are not big fans of spending hours pumping up the tyres.

Topeak Joe Blow Sport

I’ve previously reviewed the Topeak Joe Blow Sport bike pump for London Cyclist and absolutely loved it. It’s a firm favourite amongst cyclists and bike shops. Luckily it is also within most budgets at under £30. The Topeak comes with a pressure gauge so you know what PSI your bike tyres are at. It fits both valve types.

Topeak Joe Blow Sport bike pump

Prices: The best price I’ve found is at Chain Reaction Cycles for £28.99 delivered. Evans sell it for £32.99 and Amazon for £29.49 but you have to pay an extra £2.50 for shipping.

Handheld bike pump

For on the go you’ll need a mini bike pump. These easily fit into bags, pockets or can even be strapped to the bike. Better mini pumps can reach high PSI levels although they’ll require closer to 180 pumps as opposed to around 20 for a floor pump.

Topeak Race Rocket

This is the bike pump I use and I rarely leave the house without it. The Topeak is definitely on the smaller end of the handheld bike pump market at just 19cm. It can reach PSI levels of up to 140 and is pretty light. The only downside to it is that it doesn’t have a pressure gauge so you’ll have to guess by pressing your thumb on the tyre. I’ve previously reviewed the Topeak Race Rocket bike pump on London Cyclist. It fits both valve types.

Topeak race rocket bike pump

Prices: The cheapest price I’ve found is on Wiggle for £22.49. It is also available at Chain Reaction Cycles at £22.99.

Lezyne Road Drive

If you’re willing to spend a little more then the Lezyne Road Drive bike pump will get you to you’re required tyre pressure faster thanks to its unique design. It is also very lightweight at just 90g for the medium version. There is a carbon model for those who are truly weight conscious.

Lezyne Road Drive bike pump

Prices: The carbon version will set you back a staggering £79.99 where as the standard version is available for £29.69.

CO2 bike pump

The big advantage of CO2 bike pumps is the sheer speed in which they pump the tyre. On the downside if you run out of cartridges you cannot pump up your tyres. The Innovations Microflate Nano Pump is a good one to try.

See also:

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

, , , ,

17 Responses to Bike pumps guide

  1. Mike 18/10/2010 at 10:01 am #

    A track/floor pump is a brilliant investment – they save so much time. The Topeak ones have good availability for spare parts too.

    In addition, because they shift a lot of air you can use them to inflate your car tyres too.

  2. S North London 18/10/2010 at 12:35 pm #

    It’s definitely worth investing in a track pump to keep at home. Keeping your tyres well inflated reduces the chances of getting a puncture and you feel a bit more zip as you ride along. I try to check my tyres every week.

    Keeping a hand-held with you is advisable too, as they are small enough to stuff into your bag or have attached to the bike.

  3. Nico 18/10/2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Maybe I got a duff one, or I’m not using it properly (will try again tonight), but I never found my Topeak Joe Blow Sport pump to be great. Pressure gauge is not accurate and it doesn’t seem to inflate as well as I thought it would. It’s great to inflate footballs and Swiss balls with the adapters provided though.

    I have a Dahon BioLogic seat post pump too, and that’s one I can readily recommend. It’s quite light, impossible to forget, and I was surprised by how quickly I got my tire from flat to rock hard after a puncture a couple of weeks ago (26 in. wheel, 1.25 inch inner). If you have a Dahon bike, you have one already! You can find it for £25-£30 online.

    • dave 09/04/2012 at 3:41 pm #

      I agree totally with you. I have had a Blow Joe for several years now and have nener found it easy to inflate to a highish pressure. I have to drop my whole body weight on top of the handle to reach the right pressure. I can not understand why people like them so much. Kind Regards Dave Coull

    • theo 04/06/2012 at 5:39 pm #

      what do you mean a duff one?

  4. Neil 18/10/2010 at 4:04 pm #

    I also have the Top Peak Joe Blow Sport and haven’t had any problems using it since I got it a couple of years ago. I haven’t tested how accurate the pressure gauge is though, so this is something I might look at doing.

    I’ve got the Lezyne Road Drive for taking on rides and it’s a great little pump. It has a hose that you attach to the valve which makes it virtually impossible to snap the valve off – a common problem with some mini pumps I’ve used in the past. The carrying bracket can be bought on its own, so I’ve got one of these on each of my bikes to save switching the whole thing over – although I usually just carry the pump in my bag so I don’t forget it. Only downside is that it only works on Presta valves.

  5. Chris 18/10/2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Great article, couldn’t believe the difference it made to my commute when i brought a proper pump with gauge as i was only putting 20psi in my bike tires,although i still have a pocket pump to get me out of the crap when out and about !!!!

  6. Stef 18/10/2010 at 6:20 pm #

    I have the Road Drive in Medium. Fantastic pump which can comfortably get up to 100psi. Bendy hose stops any valve snapping as mentioned. Better still you can buy a different hose with an inbuilt pressure gauge. Bit pricey when combined at £45 but it means I don’t need a track pump as well. Only problem I’ve had is the ends sometimes unscrew when removing the hose so I might send this off for tightening.


  7. KingstonBiker 18/10/2010 at 10:53 pm #

    I just purchased a Bontrager Charger Pump from Evans for £19.99.
    Haven’t used it much yet but initial impressions are good. It had a lot of good reviews too.

  8. Phil 21/10/2010 at 9:46 am #

    I am a cheapskate when it comes to pumps*, because I kept losing the good Blackburn mini pumps I had. So, I carry a cheapo all-plastic mini pump ( came with my air horn, so good for up to 80PSI ) in my pannier for punctures whilst out and about, and at home I use a £7.99 Halfords car foot pump with a gauge. Whether I get a puncture or have just swapped tubes, I’m not going anywhere and I’m not in a race; as long as I can get air in the tube, I’m happy.
    *I know that at some point this strategy is going to fail me, but until I feel flush enough to lay out £60-£70 for the good stuff it will have to do.

  9. nilling 22/10/2010 at 10:37 am #

    I bought the Joe Blow track pump from Halfords for £25 when it was on offer a few years ago after the cheapo Aldi/Lidl track pump simply fell apart – you get what you pay for. It’s a solid and well built feel. It’s a joy to use and money well invested.

  10. Laurie Canham 22/10/2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Just a thought, but if you also have a car, you probably have a foot pump for it, meaning you don’t need to buy a separate one for the bike. I use my car pump (with an integral gauge) to keep the tyres at the right pressure, and have a mini pump attached to a clip on the bike for on the road.

  11. Bluenose 22/10/2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I agree the topeak Joe Blow, I use it as do many of my friends. It is sold by halfords so wait for them to have a special offer on. My small pump is a Botranger air support mini pump, it works well but no guage, fits in a small clamp or is small enough to go in your bag or back pocket. Never go out without a pump, either you or a friend will need one at some time.

  12. Tony 31/10/2010 at 2:50 pm #

    Have to admit that I have never seen the point of spending thirty quid on a trackpump when a ten quid footpump (by Michelin) from Halfords, as suggested above, has a built in pressure gauge, is possibly more versatile and lasts for years.
    For out on the road the suggestions above also seem a bit over-priced too. An SKS Piccolo is only 16cm and gets 115psi in tube, but let’s face it – you only want it to get enough air in to get you home where you can complete the job with something easier.
    Price? 5.99 and it’s not much longer than a biro.

  13. bicycle pump 29/01/2013 at 10:49 am #

    Topeak Joe Blow is a REAL bike pump.

  14. Biker 17/08/2014 at 6:10 pm #

    Car footpumps require Schrader valves and are designed to shift a lot of air at fairly low pressures, hence their short, fat barrels. They don’t like the high pressures that some cycle tyres require, and their gauges may not go high enough. And I wouldn’t trust any pump gauge without checking it against a proper tyre pressure gauge.

    Ordinary old-fashioned bicycle pumps are fine, I reckon.

  15. JB... 23/04/2015 at 8:02 pm #

    I have just bought the Joe Blow Track pump as I read it can be serviced when needed.
    However can anyone tell me how to replace the internal bits when that day arrives?
    I am blessed if I can see any screws/bolts or clips!

    Thanks for reading……JB

Leave a Reply