Last updated: 17/10/2022

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If cycling is becoming more and more strenuous and difficult, it may be because your tyres are slowly running out of air. With bicycle pumps, you can easily change this yourself.

There are mini bicycle pumps that you can take with you on the road as well as larger standard pumps that you can use at home. With our large bicycle pump test 2022 you can easily find the best bicycle pump for you and your needs. We show you the different advantages and disadvantages of hand pumps, floor pumps, foot pumps and CO2 cartridge pumps to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A bicycle pump is a device that is specifically used to inflate bicycle tyres using air pressure.
  • In general, a distinction can be made between hand pumps, floor pumps, foot pumps and CO2 cartridge pumps. Each type of bicycle pump has its own advantages and disadvantages.
  • When buying a bicycle pump, you should pay attention not only to its type, dimensions and weight, but also to its performance and material.

The best Bicycle Pump: Our Choice

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a bicycle pump

What is a mini bicycle pump?

A mini bicycle pump is a bicycle pump that is so small that it can be taken along on the road. Many high-quality bikes come with them and even have a device on the bike itself to attach them to. Mini bicycle pumps only rarely have an air pressure gauge and only a few models can compete with a normal bicycle pump.

Mini pumps are perfect for on the road due to their size. However, a larger standard pump is better suited for home use.

What do I have to consider with the valves?

If you have already chosen a suitable bicycle pump, you only need to make sure that you choose the right valve. Generally, you can choose between the following:

  • Dunlop valve
  • Sclaverand valve
  • Schrader valve

The Dunlop valve is mainly used on touring and city bikes. A characteristic feature of the valve is that it can be changed quickly and without the use of tools. A disadvantage is that it can be easily sabotaged. Most valves of this type are nowadays built for up to 6 bar pressure. The Sclaverand valve, which is also called the French or Presta valve, is often used in road cycling.

The valves are designed for up to 15 bar pressure and ensure good rolling resistance due to the high pressure. The disadvantage of the Sclavander valve is that they are not as robust and stable as other types of valves due to their small diameter. The Schrader valve is used on both bicycles and motor vehicles and is also called a car valve for this reason.

A big advantage of a Schrader valve is that they do not need an adapter to be inflated at petrol stations. Sclaverand valves and Dunlop valves require a special adapter at petrol stations, which has a built-in non-return valve.

If you are unsure which air pump will fit safely, it is best to use a universal pump head, then you can use the same bicycle air pump for all valves.

What is a pressure gauge and what do I need it for?

The pressure gauge is a pressure measuring device that shows you how much pressure is in a medium. In cycling, it is used to measure the pressure in the tyre. Many pumps have an integrated pressure gauge that shows you how much pressure is in your tyres while you are pumping. In general, you should check the air pressure in your tyres about once a month. The following table should give you a guideline of how much tyre pressure you should have in your tyres:

Your height Recommended frame size Recommended wheel size
150-155 cm 33-36 cm 26 inch
155-160 cm 35-38 cm 26 / 27.5 inch
160-165 cm 38-40 cm 26 / 27.5 inch
165-170 cm 40-43 cm 26 / 27.5 inch
170-175 cm 42-45 cm 26 / 27,5 / 29 inch
175-180 cm 44-47 cm 26 / 27,5 / 29 inch
180-185 cm 46-49 cm 26 / 27,5 / 29 inch
185-190 cm 49-52 cm 26 / 27,5 / 29 inch
190-195 cm 51-56 cm 29 inch
195-200 cm 56 cm and over 29 inch

How much does a bicycle pump cost?

A bicycle pump is a useful purchase if you own a bicycle and won’t cost you a fortune. Simple bicycle pumps and mini bicycle pumps are available for as little as 5 euros. Most bicycle pumps are priced between 10 and 20 euros and only some very high-quality pumps cost up to 40 euros.

Decision: What types of bicycle pumps are there and which is the right one for you?

In general, you can distinguish between the following bicycle pumps:

  • Hand pump
  • Foot pump
  • Floor pump
  • CO2 cartridge pumps

What is a hand pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

You can quickly recognise a hand pump by its small and simple shape, which allows you to operate the pump manually with your hands only. Generally, a hand pump has a size of 15 to 25 cm and in many cases has a device to attach it to the bike.

In most cases, such hand pumps are made of metal or plastic and are often supplied with the bike. The operation of a hand pump is very simple, but often very tedious. There are also larger versions of hand pumps, but these cannot be attached to the bicycle. A very small variant of the hand pump is the mini pump

Fahrradpumpe an Rad

In this picture you can see a section of a bicycle with its owner. On the left of the picture you can see a hand pump attached to the bike. By carrying the pump, you are always well prepared for flat tyre situations. (Photo: Free-Photos / Pixabay.com)

What are the features of a foot pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A foot pump, as the name suggests, is inflated with a foot. However, you should note that the foot pump, which is often used for inflating air mattresses, is not meant here. The foot pump for inflating a bicycle has a much more complicated mechanism and usually has a pressure gauge to control the air pressure. Foot pumps are usually somewhat heavier and for this reason are rather unsuitable to be taken along on a bicycle tour. They can usually be found in the garage or cellar.

What are the special features of a floor pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A floor pump allows you to pump a large volume of air into a tyre to create a pressure of up to 16 bar. Due to their size and weight, floor pumps are not suitable for carrying around. They are usually found in workshops, in the racing bike area or in the cellars of motivated cyclists.

Nowadays, a floor pump almost always has a pressure gauge. The pump is operated with the help of both arms while standing. Although the use is simple, it still requires a lot of strength from the upper body. Smaller versions are now also available, but these cannot generate as much pressure in the tyre.

Fahrradpumpe mit Rennfahrer

The cyclists in this picture look very motivated and enthusiastic. They undertake larger tours and therefore own relatively good bicycles. Certainly, each of these riders owns a floor pump to give their tyres optimal pressure. (Photo: skeeze / Pixabay.com)

What is a CO2 cartridge pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A cartridge pump inflates the tyre with the help of a pressurised CO2 cartridge. This allows you to inflate quickly and conveniently without much effort. However, cartridge pumps have several disadvantages. For large tyres, one cartridge is usually not enough and several cartridges have to be used. Another disadvantage is the price and the weight.

Because of the filled CO2 cartridges, inflation can be relatively expensive. Another and probably the most decisive disadvantage: If you are on the road and the cartridge is empty, there is no other way to inflate the bike, unless you have several cartridges with you.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate bicycle pumps

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate bicycle pumps. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular pump is suitable for you or not. In summary, these are:

  • Type of bicycle pump
  • Dimensions and weight of the bicycle pump
  • Power
  • Material

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type of bicycle pump

As you may have learned at the beginning, you have to decide between several types of bicycle pumps. It is important to consider your own needs and when you will need your bicycle pump.

If you are often on the road and need a practical bicycle pump that you can take along flexibly, we would advise you to choose a hand pump or a mini bicycle pump. If you are sure that you always check the air pressure in your bike reliably and regularly, you can go for a floor pump that can be stored in your garage or cellar.

Dimensions and weight of the bicycle pump

This purchase criterion depends very much on the type of bicycle pump you want to buy. In general, anything up to 1500 grams, i.e. 1.5 kilograms, is a good guideline for floor and foot pumps. Hand pumps and mini pumps can sometimes weigh a few hundred grams. Here you should pay attention to where you will use your air pump.

If it is only at home in your garage or cellar, it doesn’t matter if your pump is a little heavier. If you always take your pump with you and clamp it onto your bike, then a light pump is recommended. Many riders want their bike to be as light as possible. A heavy pump logically works against this.

Performance

Like all other purchase criteria, this one also depends on several factors. On the one hand, the performance of the pump depends on the type of air pump. On the other hand, the valve on the bike also influences how much bar pressure fits into a tyre. If you are planning to buy a hand pump or mini pump, you should expect less power than with a floor or foot pump.

In general use, the power of a normal floor pump is sufficient to regularly inflate your bike. You should only use hand pumps and mini pumps as an alternative when you are out and about. It can be very tedious to generate the required air pressure in your tyres with these small pumps. Schrader valves can withstand by far the most pressure. With shock pumps, the maximum pressure can be up to 25 bar.

Did you know that the air pressure in the tyres should vary depending on the type of bicycle? On a conventional city bike, the air pressure in the wheel should be between 2.5 and 4.5 bar. This means that it is already at least twice as high as the ambient pressure. On a road bike, the tyre pressure should be 5-10 bar.

In addition to the pressure unit bar, it can also happen that PSI is mentioned as a unit. PSI is also a pressure unit. Generally you can remember: 1 PSI is 0.0689476 bar.

Material

Bicycle pumps are usually made of either plastic or metal. Many small pumps will be made of plastic as it is lighter. Metal air pumps have the advantage that they are much stronger and more stable due to the robust material.

However, this has a negative effect on the weight. Most metal air pumps are floor or foot pumps, as the weight is not as important as with hand or mini pumps. CO2 cartridge pumps made of metal are also more common than those made of plastic.

Facts worth knowing about bicycle pumps

How do I pump up my bike without a bike pump?

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation that you don’t have a bicycle pump or that it is broken, you can help yourself with the following two options. Firstly, we would advise you to go to the nearest petrol station and pump up your bike. Petrol stations almost always have a powerful compressor for car tyres.

With the right valve, you can also use this to quickly inflate your bike. However, you should be aware that a compressor is much more powerful than a normal bicycle pump and that without sufficient sensitivity your tyre can quickly burst. In such a situation, ask the petrol station attendant.

Did you know that you should have a little more air in the rear wheel? The rear wheel of your bicycle should be inflated a little more and thus hold higher pressure. This is because most of the weight is on the rear tyre of the bike. Basically, the tyre pressure also depends on the weight of the rider.

If you have a compressor at home, you can use it to help. A nearby swimming pool is also a good option: if you have the right attachment, you can have your bike inflated there. Swimming pools often have small compressors to inflate balls and air mattresses.

Photo source: 123rf.com / auremar

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