A mini bike pump is one of those items that you probably won’t use really often – unless you’ve got tyres that need replacing or a habit of riding over the neighbours rose bush clippings. However, when you do use it, you want it to work.
There’s one thing worse than getting a puncture mid-ride, and that’s getting a puncture mid-ride and having a rubbish pump with which to re-inflate your rubber. The result is a ruined ride on squishy tyres, or a half-hour long arm workout as you desperately try to reach an acceptable psi.
When selecting a good mini pump, you’ll want to consider how easy it is to reach around 100psi, how easy it is to store or mount to the bike, and its weight.
Our pick of the best mini bike pumps
We tested five mini bike pumps, by taking them to the workshop and seeing what pressure we could achieve with each, and how much effort it took. We also examined their robustness, shape and size – and we field-tested them to see how they would deal with real-world puncture scenarios at the side of the road.
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LifeLine Performance Road Bike Pump
This pump from Wiggle represents excellent value, and has a retractable hose with Presta and Schrader valve adapters. We found it light and robust enough, but thought the length could make it easier to lose from your pocket.
Birzman Velocity with gauge mini bike pump
We rated this pump nine out of ten. It took us 200 strokes to reach 90psi, and we liked the fact it had a solid metal feel and rubber grippers at each end. The retractable hose has a covering cap – which was a nice touch, but we did worry it could get lost. This is a longer pump, but it does come with a plastic clip and rubber fastening for attaching to the frame.
Lezyne Carbon Drive Lite Mini bike pump
This pump features Presta and Schrader valve adapters, and comes with a hose extension stored in the body. We found that with 200 strokes, we got to 100psi – which was better than most. Should you over-pump, there’s a pressure relief button that allows you to let some air out. This tiny pump fitted well into a pocket, but also comes with a mount that can be attached to a bottle cage.
Topeak Microrocket AL mini bike pump
Read more: Topeak Microrocket AL mini bike pump review
A light aluminium construction, this pump is connected directly to the valve, without the need for any assembly or an extra hose. It’s just 160mm long, and weighs 65g – making it an easy fit in a jersey pocket. Our 20 strokes test only got us to 60psi on a 23mm tyre though, which is a bit lower than others on test.
iPump Twist mini pump
Read more: iPump Twist mini pump review
This inflator from iPump tips the scales at just 25g – which is probably its biggest selling point. A thin, Presta only hose is pulled out of the handle when it comes time to put it to use. Both the pump and piston are made from carbon fibre, keeping the weight low. We found 200 strokes got us to 60psi, but this alone took quite a lot of effort, and the body of the pump become quite hot.
What is a mini bike pump?
A minipump is a bicycle pump which is small enough to fit in your back pocket, so you can always take it with you on a ride.
As a minimum, it needs to pack enough punch that when you get a flat you can get home comfortably without bottoming out your rim on the road if the going gets bumpy – around 50psi minimum.
Ideally it should allow you to get enough air into your tyre that you can continue your ride in comfort and your tyre doesn’t feel squishy while you are riding – which for a 23mm clincher means reaching near 100psi, or 90psi on a 25mm tyre.
Ideally you won’t feel so exhausted in the process that you need to sit down and have a rest after using the pump.
Some minipumps are like shorter traditional pumps, with a hose which is screwed into the barrel and onto the valve before use. Others have an integrated adaptor which pushes directly onto the valve and is secured by pushing out a lever.
Many now have a hose which is integrated into the pump itself. The hose is pulled out of the pump to use. This design means that the pump needs to be “the wrong way round” with the hose extending from the handle, which is held steady in use, while the pump is operated by pushing and pulling on the barrel. In practice, this arrangement has no real disadvantages.
With any minipump there is a compromise between compact dimensions and usability, with a longer pump being easier to stroke than a shorter one, as it takes less effort to reach higher pressures.
Getting up to 100psi with a short or inefficient pump can become very hard work and you may need to take a rest in the middle before completing the task. Some smaller pumps can also get quite hot with the air compression required.
Loads of punctures? It might be time for new tyres
Do you need a mini bike pump if you have CO2 cartridges?
Everyone needs a pump. A minipump will still be a lighter and much cheaper option than CO2 cartridges. And even if you take a CO2 inflator to speed up getting back on the road, you may still need a fall-back option to get you home if you get multiple flats.
A minipump should be pocketable or attachable unobtrusively beside your water bottle cage, so that it is always ready for action when the inevitable happens. Some are so mini that they will fit into a saddle pack, although pump stroke and efficiency are likely to suffer in such a short pump.
Most minipumps will come with a mount which screws onto your bottle cage bosses and allows you to tuck your pump in beside your bottle, where it’s out of the way.
The pump usually clicks into the mount and is secured with a Velcro and/or a rubber strap. It is likely to get mucky if you keep it here though, particularly in the wet and if you’re riding on lanes.
Protection of the valve connector and sealing between barrel and handle are important considerations if you plan to use the frame mount. For pre-ride inflation we would always recommend a good track pump with a gauge.
Could this be the way to avoid punctures altogether?