Monday, January 4, 2016

RoadAir Mini Pump

The RoadAir Mini Pump is currently available on amazon for $30.

RoadAir sent me this pump to test out and review.  Before I get to my review, I'd like to rant a little about pumps and bikes for the rest of us.

We here at Bikes For The Rest Of Us have high expectations when it comes to what should come standard on a bike.  Not long ago, Joseph started a list: fenders, chainguard (or chaincase), baskets and racks, gears, lights, brakes, lock, kickstand, bell.  I would add to that list a pump and pump peg or holder.  That used to be a standard feature on English bikes and it should be standard today. Car buyers would be dismayed if their new car did not come with a spare tire, jack, and tire iron. Why do we allow bicycle manufacturers to get away without providing the basics to deal with flat tires?

Back to reality: Most bikes sold in the USA do not come with pumps or even a pump peg to hold a frame pump.  So the essential flat tire kit for your bike bag should include a spare tube, patches, rubber cement, and a mini-pump.

I have tried out many mini-pumps over the years and eventually settled on one that was made by crankbrothers (they don't appear to make it any more).  I tested the RoadAir pump against the old crankbrothers pump.

Crank Brothers vs. Road Air. Both are less than 10 inches in length.

There are certain issues that a designer of a mini-pump has to confront.  First, there are two types of tube valves -- presta and schrader -- and the pump has to work on both of them.  My crankbrothers pump dealt with this issue with a dual head, with one side for presta and the other for schrader. You just rotate the pump head and lock it onto the corresponding valve type.  The RoadAir has a standard schrader head, but comes with a presta valve adapter.  The presta adapter is stored inside a compartment in the handle, along with a tapered nozzle and a pump needle.  This is a nice touch.

A compartment inside the pump handle holds a presta adapter, needle, and tapered nozzle.

Another issue for mini-pumps is their miniature nature (both RoadAir and crankbrothers are less than 10 inches long). Their short pistons can only pump so much air, so typically it takes a lot of work to re-inflate your tube after it's been patched.  I liked the crankbrothers pump because I could get a comfortable grip on it.  The RoadAir pump has a feature that I haven't seen before: there is actually a hose inside that you pull out and connect to the tube valve. This allows you to pump without having your hands between the spokes.  I had no trouble getting to 80 PSI (on amazon, RoadAir states that its mini-pump can inflate to a maximum PSI of 90-110).

A flexible hose pulls out from the RoadAir pump, making it easier to reach the valve.

For what it's worth, the RoadAir is lighter than my crankbrothers pump. On the other hand, the RoadAir does not come with a pressure gauge or a protective case, so that lessens the weight.  I plan to continue using the RoadAir to test out its durability and will update this review at some point.

In the comments, tell us about your pump and why you like it (or don't).


grubernd said...

i have a Lezyne Alloy Drive, about 23cm long. it has a reversible hose whose ends are labeled Presta and Schrader - no adapters to loose. to the Presta end i have attached a ball-needle, because i use the pump more often for volleyballs than for bike tires.
but i never carry a pump or a patch kit for daily rides. i haven't had a flat in years, being observant and having tires with an anti-puncture layer helps a lot.

Angus Wallace said...

Is the pump's tube replaceable?

Cheers, Angus

Angus Wallace said...

Is the pump's tube replaceable?

Cheers, Angus

grubernd said...

the tube is a separate part, so i'd guess "yes".

Freewheel said...

Angus, good question! I contacted RoadAir and was informed that the pump hose is not replaceable and that it would be a warranty issue.