You’ll use a floor pump more
than any other tool in your
garage. Invest wisely.
Any mechanic worth his toolbox knows never to skimp on
tools. Buy the best and you’ll only buy once. That holds true for your floor
pump—the tool you’re likely to use more than any other.
The best ones are built to take abuse, with aluminum barrels and rugged
steel or aluminum bases. A big, easily readable gauge is a must. Bonus
points apply if the pump is re-buildable or has a stout warranty.
Most importantly, a pump is only as good as its head. Press-on versions
with levers are usually the easiest to operate, while thread-on options tend
to be the most secure. Either must be simple and intuitive while providing
a secure, leak-proof hold on both Presta and Schraeder valves.
Specialized Air Tool Pro
$120 / Maximum pressure: 150 psi
The Air Tool Pro is near perfect for home
garages. The aluminum construction and
wide, sturdy base mean this pump will be
kicking around your garage for a long time.
It inflated our 25mm tubular test tires to
80psi in 22 pumps. A release button is conveniently located on the handle, should you
overfill. Most importantly, the head, which
adapts automatically to Presta and Schraeder
valves, slides on and secures effortlessly and
removes just as quickly. If you’re looking for
single-psi precision, the gauge won’t be to
your liking (look to the Silca SuperPista Ultimate instead), but the Air Tool is a no-nonsense workhorse that will give you years of
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Birzman Maha Apogee III
$80 / Maximum pressure: 220 psi
The Apogee puts on the airs of an expensive
pump but at a workingman’s price. It features
a full aluminum body; stable yet low-profile
aluminum feet; and a sleek wooden handle.
We inflated our tubulars to 80psi in 21 pumps
with minimal effort. (Track racers will appreciate the high maximum pressure.) Birzman’s
proprietary Snap-It head, however, is a letdown. It requires the user to press it on then
twist while pulling a collar up toward the
valve. It took us several tries to get the hang
of it, and sometimes required both hands.
It stays on, though, and a handy button on
the back of the head releases pressure if you
go over your mark. The head releases easily
and switches between Presta and Schraeder
with minimal effort. It’s not a perfect system,
but the Apogee delivers good looks and easy
pumping at a reasonable price.
Forget about noisy, expensive compressors.
Topeak’s JoeBlow Booster does the job quickly
without waking the neighbors. Charging the
large canister to the recommended 160psi
takes about 40 pumps, which isn’t quick. But
twist the dial, and the resulting blast of air is
strong enough to seat a tubeless tire. Or, if
you’d rather use it as a normal floor pump,
just turn the dial back and pump away. It
took about 26 pumps to inflate our test tire
to 80psi in the normal mode. The SmartHead presses onto either Presta or Schraeder
valves, no adjustments necessary, though it
doesn’t clamp as solidly as we would like. The
air release button at the hose/body junction
scrubs off excess pressure. It’s topped off with
two aluminum chambers, a heavy-duty steel
base, and a comfortable plastic handle.
Silca SuperPista Ultimate
$450 / Maximum pressure: 160 psi
If industrial design legend Dieter Rams had
ever created a floor pump, it might have worked
and looked a lot like this one. The wood handle, aluminum chamber, and zinc base are all
eye-catching yet functional, as is the red hose
that’s rated to 12,000 psi. The plunger motion is
silky smooth, and the gauge is accurate down to
1psi. Silca clearly wanted to make a functional
work of art (which explains the gallery price). It
succeeded, but the pump doesn't do anything
a $200 pump can't do. It inflated our test tire
in 19 pumps, and the compressor-chuck-style
head attaches incredibly easily, though it takes
a bit of effort to remove it. In order to set it up
for Schraeder valves, the Presta fitting needs
to be unscrewed and removed. Put that on a
cluttered bench and you might say goodbye to
it forever. We love the magnetic head holder
on the base, but if the hose were a quarter inch
longer, engagement would be much easier.
Still, a 25-year warranty (including the hose)
sweetens the deal, and few tools could make
your home garage look better.
brad kaminski (2)
Topeak JoeBlow Booster
$160 / Maximum pressure: 160 psi
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