Anybody who rides a bike knows that you have to put air in the tires fairly frequently. This is the one maintenance task that every cyclist, from a 7-year-old kid to Bradley Wiggins, must perform on his bike. The handling of your bicycle — traction, cornering, and the quality of the ride — is determined to a great extent by the tires and inflation pressure. Maintaining optimal air pressure for your weight and riding style is a safety factor, too.
Bottom line: every cyclist needs a bike pump. But which is best?
To inflate the tires on your bike at home, a floor pump (also known as a “track pump” or “stand pump” ) is the best type to get. And if you aspire to be the next Bradley Wiggins, or simply want to use the best tools to maintain your bike, you’ll want a reliable floor pump that is “shop grade.”
Criteria for the best bike floor pumps
Whatever floor pump you buy should have an accurate pressure gauge. It should fit both Schrader and Presta valves. It should handle inflating tires of different types and sizes, from road bike tires to mountain bike tires (pumping up your basketball, volleyball, or football is a bonus). The pump should also be durable, made with heavy-duty materials and construction. The pump should sit on a steady and secure base and have a smooth and efficient pumping action. It helps if the handle is comfortable. Parts of the pump that may wear out should be easily replaced. And a lifetime warranty is a good thing to have.
The above criteria will eliminate about 85% of the bicycle floor pumps on the market.
The Blackburn Airtower Shop Pump
What it won’t eliminate — in fact, what it indicates you should get when it comes to a top-quality bike pump — is a pump from Blackburn. And the best Blackburn floor pump is the Airtower Shop Pump.
The Blackburn Airtower Shop Pump has been built without compromise. It is a cylindrical piece of bicycle pump art. The barrel and the base are made of steel. It has a braided steel hose (which is extra long so you can pump up your tires while the bike is on a stand). The pump head is made of a steel alloy and features Blackburn’s AnyValve technology that automatically adjusts to different types of valves. The Airtower Shop Pump is a versatile professional-grade pump, which will inflate tires up to a max air pressure of 220 psi. It has an oversized 3-inch pressure gauge. All critical components are rebuildable. And it comes with a lifetime warranty.
This is Blackburn’s current state-of-the-art bike pump. Which is saying something. Check the reviews for Blackburn’s other models of bike pumps on sites such as bicycling.com and bikeradar.com. Blackburn has deservedly earned a reputation for building some of the best bike pumps.
As an example, I have owned a Blackburn Air Tower 4 bike pump for about 6 years, which I use mainly to pump up the tires on my mountain bike. It is easy to use. The pressure gauge is accurate. And the pump is apparently indestructible. I keep it in my SUV year-round, which is parked outdoors. The pump has endured multiple winters where the temperature has gotten as low as 20 below zero and hot summers where the temp goes over 98 degrees for days on end. But the pump always works smoothly and efficiently. There has never been a hint that my Blackburn pump will stop functioning. It simply does its job. And has been doing so for years. I’ve even inflated truck tires with it.
Where to get the Blackburn Airtower Shop Pump and other top-quality bike pumps
Of course, there are other good pumps on the market. You can check out, for example, the Silca Super Pista Floor Pump and the SKS Rennkompressor, which are available at better bike shops (click the links). If you like a European quality in your bike equipment, either of those pumps may fit the bill for you. But you cannot get a better, more well-made pump than the Blackburn Airtower Shop Pump.
You can click here to see the Blackburn Airtower Shop Pump at Jenson USA, one of the most dependable bike equipment retailers online.