Floor Pumps: Out with the Old and In with the New

As mentioned in my post-Southern Tandem Rally (STR) write-up, I found myself in need of a new floor pump while at STR and rolled the dice on what was essentially a one-of-one Specialized Air Tool “Sport” model pump at a small but nicely stocked Open Roads bicycle shop in Jacksonville, Florida.  Open Roads appeared to be either a current or former Specialized Concept Store, just based on what they had in stock and how it was displayed… and that’s not a bad thing.  Specialized tends to have what I find to be ‘better’ accessory designs and engineering than it’s main rival’s Trek’s accessories.

The “Sport” pump was $40, right at MSRP so no real bargain but also not obscenely expensive either.  As I look at the higher-priced models, like the Comp and Pro I’m hard pressed to see where there’s a lot of added value for the added features, so I’m thinking I inadvertently found the “sweet spot” in the pump line.

As for the likes, the “Switch Hitter” pump head is a winner in my book.  It took me a minute to realize that the head worked interchangeably on Schrader and Presta valves without doing anything other than pressing the head on the valve and lifting the locking lever; pretty slick.

However, what makes it all that much better than several other pumps I’ve had is that the head comes back off the Presta valve without a fight… which should reduce the number torn-up valve stem / inner tube joints.  These torn-up valve stems have accounted for what seems like 4 of the last 5 tube failures I’ve had on the Calfee tandem, including one on the triplet at STR: very frustrating to be sure.

As for other likes, I like having the pressure gauge down on the base, where it’s better protected, noting the pump I just replaced suffered two gauge failures during it’s relatively short, 5-year life.  I also like the 45″ long air hose and the wide, solid steel base, which gives the pump some added heft and makes it less prone to falling over than other pumps we’ve owned.  Oh yeah, and it works really well; very easy and very efficient.

There really aren’t any dislikes, but the “wing handle” isn’t much of an improvement over any other handle design I’ve experienced.

 

As for the pump it replaced, a Park PFP-4 “Professional”, good riddance. That pump was a problem from the git-go.

It was top-heavy with a cheap plastic base and prone to falling over if you just looked at it the wrong way. The pump head failed in just a few months of use, which was replaced by Park under warranty.  Even after that, the pump head was always problematic, often times needing a few good “whacks” to seat the valve that separated the two different openings for the Schrader & Presta valve heads so that the pump would flow air into a new Presta valve tube instead of just blowing air out the Schrader side of the head.

Getting the pump head back off of Presta valves was always a 50/50 proposition where sometimes it would “pop” right off, while other times you had to wrestle the thing off… leading to the aforementioned flats from the valve junction with the tubes tearing.

The pressure gauge went out of calibration or alignment after about 2 years and had to be manually reset after figuring out how to dissect the gauge assembly.  On its last day with me the gauge’s needle indicator somehow “jumped” below the zero stop and would no longer move, apparently caused by the last tip-over.

It’s last act of defiance was the torn valve stem base that flatted the rear tire on our triplet just before the start of the Friday ride at STR.

I was never so happy to throw a $60 pump in the trash.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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