Three best bike pumps

Allen Foster

If you have trouble remembering the right psi, it’s stamped on the sidewall of each bicycle tire.

When it comes to routine maintenance for your bike, at the very top of the list is tire pressure. If there's no air in your tires, your bike is useless. You need something to pump it up! You need a bike pump.

However, there are lots of different types of bike pumps available. Knowledge is the best way to quickly narrow down your options to identify the features your pump needs to have. The following guide will walk you through the essentials to help you find the perfect pump for your bike.

Considerations when choosing bike pumps

Types of bike pumps

Hand pump: Ideally, hand pumps should only be used in emergency situations. Though they require a bit of effort, they still might not be able to get you to your proper psi. They also put added stress on the valve stems in your tires, which is not a good thing.

Price: Hand pumps range from $10 to $20.

Frame pump: This is a lightweight pump that attaches to your bike frame so you can have it with you at all times. It features a longer tube and is less taxing to use than a hand pump.

Price: Frame pumps range from $10 to $30.

Floor pump: This essential pump stands on the floor and is held in place by your feet. The design allows you to engage your entire upper body when working the pump. Since this pump is larger, it isn't very portable.

Price: You can find a quality floor pump for about $50. Bargain models can be as low as $10, while high-end floor pumps can cost $200 or more.

Shock pump: This extremely small pump is designed to be used on the shock absorbers of mountain bikes. It delivers a small volume of air with incredible pressure -- up to 300 psi. Although not an optimum solution, it could also be used to fill a tire.

Price: Shock pumps range from $25 to $50.

CO2 inflators: These items use compressed carbon dioxide to quickly fill a tire. They are very handy but only effective if there's gas in the cartridge. Always have a manual pump on hand as a backup for such eventualities.

Price: These pumps range from $15 to $30. The CO2 cartridges cost between $1 and $2 each.

Electric pump: Also an option is compressed-air pumps that you plug into an outlet or run off a car. If you go this route, be sure the unit can produce the pressure needed to fill a bike tire.

Price: Bargain-priced electric pumps range from $25 to $50. Higher-end models cost $50 to $250.

Valve stems

Bike tires have two different types of valve stems: Schrader and Presta. Schrader is the more familiar type of stem and looks like the ones you find on car tires. Presta is a slimmer stem that is found mostly on racing bikes. Be sure you purchase a pump that will fit the stem on your tires. If not, you'll need to buy an adapter.


Q. How often should I check the pressure of my bicycle tires?

A. Bicycle tires hold a small amount of air that is under a great deal of pressure. The higher the pressure, the more often you need to check your tires. Road bikes should be checked at least once each week, while the air in mountain bike tires will remain at an acceptable pressure for about two weeks. It's a good idea to give your tires a quick inspection before every ride.

Q. Why is it so important to keep my tires properly inflated?

A. Your tires cushion impacts to protect you and your bike. Hitting a curb or pothole with an underinflated tire greatly increases the risk of damaging your rims. Properly inflated tires also make for a more enjoyable ride.

Bike pumps we recommend

Best of the best: Topeak Sport II Floor Pump 

Our take: A durable floor pump with an easy-to-read gauge and a dual pump head. It also comes with ball and bladder needles.

What we like: The design of the gauge makes it easy to read even in bright sunlight, while the rotating hose connection allows for tangle-free movement. The dual pump head quickly attaches to either Presta or Schrader valves without the need for adapters or swapping out parts.

What we dislike: There can be some frustration and difficulty getting the pump to make a good seal on Presta valves.

Best bang for your buck: BV Ergonomic Floor Pump with Gauge & Smart Valve Head

Our take: A cost-effective floor pump with an oversized handle that is able to deliver 160 psi.

What we like: The design of this floor pump makes it easier to get your racing bikes up to the needed tire pressure. The twin valve head quickly locks to either Presta or Schrader valves and the 360° pivot keeps the hose free from tangles.

What we dislike: There can be some difficulty unsealing the pump from Presta valves.

Choice 3: Vibrelli Performance Bike Floor Pump 

Our take: A reasonably priced floor pump that works on both Presta and Schrader valves.

What we like: Vibrelli's floor pump comes with a five-year manufacturer's warranty and an emergency tire repair kit. It can quickly reach the desired psi for racing bikes.

What we dislike: The Rapid T-valve can take some getting used to. Make sure you flip the lever in the proper direction. On some units, the pressure gauge reportedly registers a few pounds low.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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