Running tires at their optimal pressure not only improves performance but reduces the risk of pinch flats. The goal is to spend less time wrestling with a pump and more time in the saddle. Every bicycle rider should be prepared to pump up a flat tire or simply to top off their tire pressure to the recommended settings. To do so, a good track pump is the one tool every cyclist should own.
A track pump also called a floor pump, is designed to inflate your tires quickly and easily. A small, lightweight pump is great for carrying when you ride, but a track pump is the best tool for the job when you’re at home. Track pumps are quite large and generally kept at home. They have a fairly large capacity and are capable of inflating tires to high pressures – usually much higher than required.
The best bicycle pump should be accurate, sturdy, and will quickly fill up your bicycle tire with air. Also, they should have adaptive tips that can fit a wide range of bicycle tire valves and can be stored almost anywhere such as your closet, garage, or even on your bicycle. Following are some of the features to look for when buying a track pump:
Base: Weight isn’t much an issue for a track pump, though a heavier base with a larger footprint will offer more stability. You usually put a foot on either side of the base to hold the pump steady.
Gauge: One of the advantages of a track pump is that it has a gauge so that you can easily assess what pressure you have reached. Some manufacturers place the gauge at the top of the pump, others at the bottom, which can make the numbers more difficult to read. They vary a lot in size, so check these out before purchasing, especially if you have trouble with your eyesight.
Barrel: Longer pumps tend to be more efficient. The barrel, the main body of the pump, can be made of various materials. Because weight isn’t usually an issue, strong steel and aluminum are good options. The larger the barrel, the more air you can pump into your inner tubes with every stroke. As well as getting your tires pumped up more quickly, a large barrel will allow you to seat tire beads in tubeless tire systems.
Easy attachment / Valve Compatibility: The connector from the pump to the valve needs to be easy to fit. Most track pumps are suitable for both Presta and Schrader valves. Some have a dual head with different holes for different valves; some have a single hole that works with both, some have a chuck that you turn around according to the valve type. Sometimes you have to unscrew a cap and flip over a bung to swap between valves. If anything is going to fail on your track pump over time, it’s likely to be the valve head. So it’s a good idea to buy and keep some spares separately.
Long Hose: Broadly speaking, the longer the hose, the more convenient it is. Ideally, a pump placed in between the bicycle should have a hose long enough to inflate both tires. If your bicycle’s on a work stand a longer hose will be an advantage. As a rule of thumb, we like for the hose length to be long enough to extend twice the length of the barrel.
Handle: Handles come in a variety of different materials. Choose a handle that’s comfortable to use, go for something sturdy that’ll stand the test of time.
Bleed valve: A bleed valve is a handy feature if you want to be very precise with the air pressure in your inner tubes. It allows you to let a little air out without removing the valve head from the valve.
As said earlier a track pump is a must-have bicycle accessory for a rider of any level. Keep in mind the selection criteria specified above.