How to choose a mountain bike pump

What you need to know about floor pumps and hand pumps

Gear How To
How to choose a mountain bike pump

Dual chamber floor pumps are great for setting up tubeless tires.

Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art’s Cyclery. The original post can be found here.

Ideally, every mountain biker should have at least two pumps: a floor pump for home use and a hand pump to take on rides. Mountain bike tires will be most easily inflated with a high-volume pump, which are available in both floor and hand versions. Check out this video to learn more.

High volume pumps usually deliver a maximum pressure of around 80 PSI, making them unsuitable for use on road bikes. But they will rapidly inflate mountain tires. For seating tubeless tires, high-volume floor pumps are a must. The best way to seat tubeless tires, besides using an air compressor, is with a floor pump with a secondary compression chamber. The chamber is filled with a large volume of air at high pressure, then rapidly released into the tire.

Check out the Mtbr review of the Topeak Joe Blow Booster dual-chamber floor pump.

Mountain bike floor pumps and hand pumps are usually indicated by “high-volume” in their product name. Getting a floor pump with a gauge is also recommended so you can get just the right amount of air inside.

How to choose a mountain bike pump

Get a pump with a gauge so you know exactly how much air is going in.

Almost all mountain bike hand pumps will accept both Presta and Schrader valves without alteration. Some pumps require re-orienting two small parts in the pump head to switch between valve types, which is easy to do.

There are two types of attachment: hose and direct. Direct attachment pumps push onto the valve stem. Most direct pumps seal onto the valve by activating a lever. These pumps attach quickly, but can bend Presta valves if you don’t keep the pump from wiggling. Hold the pump head solidly against the rim with one hand, and pump with the other.

Pumps with a hose attachment are easier to use and more forgiving, but can still damage the valve if you are careless. They also take a little more time to set up. Hose pumps attach by threading one end of the hose onto the valve, while the pump end may be permanently attached to the pump or require threading into the pump as well.

How to choose a mountain bike pump

Pumps with a hose are less likely to damage your valve.

Since there is flex in the hose, hose pumps don’t demand the same level of stability as direct attachment pumps do. However, care should still be taken to keep the hose in-line with the valve as much as possible.

Art’s Cyclery has a wide selection of high-volume mountain bike hand and floor pumps.

Check out more helpful How To articles on Mtbr.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)


About the author: Arts Cyclery

This article was originally published on the Art's Cyclery Blog. Art's Cyclery is dedicated to offering free expert advice, how-to videos, and in-depth product reviews on ArtsCyclery.com to help riders make an educated decision when selecting cycling gear.


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  • Teleken says:

    Get a floor pump with the gauge mounted at or near the top of the pump shaft (like the 2 pumps in the first picture) so you can read it. Gauges at the bottom of the pump are a pain in ass to read.

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