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Bicycle Pump Types

posted Jan 10, 2011, 12:07 PM by Michael Gardner   [ updated Jan 10, 2011, 12:23 PM ]

There are three main types of bicycle pumps that fit the Presta valve is a valve commonly found in high pressure road style and many mountain bicycle inner tubes. The Schrader valve  invented by August Schrader in 1891 consists of a valve stem into which a valve core is threaded, and is used on virtually all automobile tires and most wider rimmed bicycle tires. 


 1. Stand pump

 2. Hand pump

 3. Foot pump


Stand pump


Also known as a floor or track pump. To operate the user rests the base of the pump on the floor, resting feet at the base, and pulls and pushes full strokes with handles. An additional tube must connect the pump to the fill valve, which may create dead volume.


Hand Pump


There are two basic types: tubed and integral. The tubed type requires a separate tube to connect the pump to the valve. These have the advantage that they are cheap, but are inefficient compared to other pumps. They also have a lot of joints from which air can escape.


 Integral pumps have a hole in the side with a rubber washer that fits round the valve. This is frequently compressed on to the valve by an extra lever. Because it is well sealed, rigid and has little dead volume, this type of pump is very efficient. An 8" integral will typically pump faster than an 18" tubed.


 A simple pump has a cupped fiber or plastic piston. On the forward stroke the air pushes the sides of the cup against the cylinder, so forming a seal; it provides its own valve. Then this piston can push the air out of the hole at the far end.


 Some of the most efficient pumps are double action pumps. By sealing the piston in the cylinder at both ends they can force air into the tire on both strokes.


 Pumps can be fitted to a bracket on the bike frame, either a clamp-on or a braze-on peg, or carried by the rider in a backpack, pocket, etc.


Foot pumps


 These pumps are often not specifically designed for bicycle use. They do not generate very high pressures so don't work well for narrow road-bike tires, but are fine for large low-pressure tires as found on mountain bikes.


 Because they are designed for cars they fit schrader valves. If the bicycle has presta valves a small brass reducer is required in order to use the pump.


CO2 Inflators


 These pumps are often used by mountain bike or road bike racers who need to save weight, and time if they get a puncture during a race. They can be a one time use pump - or a re-usable pump with the purchase of another cartridge. Because they use CO2, some of the pumps can be a little expensive. Most use standard threaded 16g CO2 canisters, originally designed for soda water fountains. Because CO2 leaks out of a rubber inner tube more rapidly than air would (despite its larger size, the CO2 molecule is slightly soluble in rubber), the tire goes flat within a few days. Now I do believe in supporting the local bike shop but when I can get them for 1/2 as much at a hardware store I will buy them there. 


What I Use


 Under my saddle I have small bag much like everyone else does. I carry a $1.00 bill, $5.00 bill, 2 spare tubes in a plastic bag with a little bit of baby powder on them, three CO2 cartridges and some coins to call home if my mobile dies. I have a Park floor / stand pump. I always use the Park pump at home before I go out to make sure pressure is good. If I have a puncture than I can whip out the spare tube and the CO2. I have had the unlucky chance in my riding life to have 3 punctures on a ride, hence the money to ask a friend to drive out to pick you up, so you can buy him or her a drink. The change comes in handy to buy yourself a snickers while you wait.

Written for RoadBiking.org By: Matt Storms  -  Blackbottoms Cyclewear