How To: Basics of bicycle pumps

Ideally you want one for the garage (floor) and one for the trail (hand)

How To Tech
Bicycle Pump Basics

Every self-respecting cyclist should own a floor pump and hand pump.

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

Tires are perhaps the most important component on your bike, and keeping them properly inflated is a must. Ideally, you want a floor pump to do this before each ride, and a hand pump to repair flat tires out on the trail or road.

High-pressure floor and hand pumps are for road tires or narrower tires running pressures above 60 PSI, and are generally smaller and narrower. They push less air, but can inflate tires to higher pressures.

Bicycle Pump Basics

Look for a floor pump with a stable base and comfortable handle.

High-volume floor and hand pumps push more air per stroke for faster inflation of wide tires, and are used for mountain bike tires, or road and cyclocross tires running pressures under 60 PSI. High-volume pumps will generally not inflate road tires to adequate pressure within a reasonable amount of time and effort.

Floor Pumps have a tall barrel, usually around 25 inches, a large handle with room for two hands, and a pressure gauge. They push a lot of air very quickly and can fully inflate a tire in under a minute, and so are the best pumps for making sure your tires are at their optimum pressure before each ride. High-volume mountain and high-pressure road pumps are available.

Bicycle Pump Basics

Narrower high pressure hand pumps are designed for use with road cycling tires.

Hand pumps are small, portable pumps that can be taken on a ride. Some are small enough to fit in a jersey pocket. Most come with a bracket which mounts underneath a water bottle cage, and holds the pump next to the water bottle. Obviously much smaller than floor pumps, hand pumps require a lot more effort and time to inflate tires to their proper level. Specific high-pressure road bike and high-volume mountain bike hand pumps are available.

Bicycle Pump Basics

High volume pumps work best with mountain bike tires.

Frame Pumps are the most effective portable pump, but aren’t as common as they used to be. Wedged under a bike’s top tube between the head and seat tubes using a spring-fit mechanism, frame pumps are not compatible with many modern frame shapes. Frame pumps are usually used on older aluminum or steel road bikes.

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 to help riders make an educated decision when selecting cycling gear.

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