The Different Types of Bike Pumps

For the seasoned cyclist, pumping a bicycle tire is a run of the mill operation; you’ve done it so many times you’ve lost count. However, for new cyclists it can be overwhelming trying to understand all the different components of the bicycle and making sure you select the right tools, like bike pumps, that you need to maintain your cycle. In this article I will discuss the most commonly-used bicycle pumps and the differences between them so you can have a better idea about them when you are ready to purchase one for your bike.
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Stand (Track Or Floor) Pump

The stand pump is a standard pump that every bicycle owner should have in his home. These pumps are able to provide the high pressure air that smaller, more portable pumps cannot. To operate, the base of the pump is placed on the floor and the user must pull and push the handle in order to activate the flow of air from the tube into the tire. Track pumps are ideal for providing a quick, quality pump, and are able to inflate tires with high pressure with relative ease.

Hand Pump (Mini-Pump)

These are portable pumps that can be used for emergencies or occasional use. The main features of these pumps are their small size, which makes them perfect for traveling. While it does not provide as high an air pressure comparable to that of the track pump, a hand pump is a useful alternative when you need a quick fix for a flat or punctured tire. Using a hand pump can place pressure on the bike valve; as a result you can find hand pumps that come with a hose attached to reduce stress on the valve and minimize air leakage. In spite of this, the process can be somewhat tedious and provides a less-than-ideal flow of air.

Stand Pump

These are a multi-functional pumps that are most commonly used on cars. Stand pumps fit the wider Schrader valves; if it needs to be used on a Presta valve, a brass reducer will need to be purchased. The stand pump is not ideal for pumping tires that need high air pressure, but OK for those that need only low air pressure.

CO2 Inflators

A CO2 inflator technically can’t be considered a pump as it can really only provide a single shot of air. It typically contains carbon dioxide and has the ability to provide a significant inflow of air in a short period of time, which makes it perfect for cyclists short on time (primarily racers). These days inflators are typically used by persons who don’t want to lug around a heavier pump or racers who need to save time when they have a punctured tire. One thing you want to keep in mind with these inflators is that carbon dioxide leaks faster than air; you may find yourself needing to pump up your tire again soon after.

Electric Pump

Electric pumps have many uses; they have the ability to pump a range of items such as car tires, toys, mattresses, and, of course, bicycle tires. They typically feature a built-in gauge which can allow a more accurate reading of the pressure level, ensuring that you do not over-inflate the tire. The main benefit of the pump is that it reduces the level of manual labor involved in pumping. The electric pump is generally more costly than the manual pumps out there, which is an important factor to consider. Also, due to the size of the pump it is typically used at home, as it may be difficult to take with you. Additionally, as with most electronic devices it may need to be routinely checked to ensure that it is still operational.

Having the proper air pressure in your tire is important as it reduces the likelihood of getting a puncture. If the tire pressure is too low, that can cause damage to the rim of the wheels and may also increase your likelihood of getting a puncture. Spending the extra time to correctly maintain the air pressure in your tires will go a long way in reducing unnecessary hiccups caused by faulty tires. Additionally, depending on your lifestyle, you may find yourself having a standard track pump at home and a smaller, more compact pump to handle any on-site flat tires. Either way, understanding the differences in the types of pumps will ensure that you select a pump that best suits your lifestyle.