The need to use bicycle pumps was born just when the solid rubber bicycle tires were replaced by air filled tires. Bicycle pumps are among the most important pieces of equipment in any cyclists equipment list.
You want to make sure you maintain proper tire pressure at all times, and you’ll definitely use it when you get a flat tire that needs to be repaired.
Ensuring your bicycle tires are pumped up to an optimal pressure is not only a safety procedure you should carry out on a regular basis, it will also help you to get more miles out of your tires and a smoother ride.
Different Types of Bicycle Pumps
It’s extremely important to choose the right bicycle pump for all of your cycling needs. There are several different types of bicycle pumps:
Which Bicycle Pump Should I Buy?
Each bicycle pump is designed for a specific use. There are bicycle tire pumps and pumps for suspension shocks. Some bicycle pumps are small and light so that you can carry them with you on your ride. Some are more heavy and robust and designed to be used at home, mainly for maintenance purposes.
There are manual floor pumps, and there are some quality electric pumps that are attached to an electric outlet or to the socket of your car's lighter. There are even some heavy duty air copressors that you can use to pump air into your bicycle tires. Check out my list of bicycle pumps (and accessories):
Bicycle Tire Pumps - These pumps are also often known as ’frame pumps' or ’mini pumps' because they tend to be small and they attach to the frame of your bicycle so you can carry it with you.
These types of bicycle pumps usually do not have a gauge built into them and are mostly designed for ’out on the road' inflation either to reinflate a tire after a puncture, or to top up a tire to get you home if you have a slow puncture.
CO2 Bicycle Pumps - These pumps are perfect for carrying with you to rapidly inflate a tire after repairing a flat. They offer a very quick inflation, but as there are no built in gauges it can take a little trial and error and experimentation with different sized cartridges to find a CO2 pump solution to fit your exact tires.
Bicycle Floor Pump - Floor pumps are the workhorses of bicycle pumps and are designed to be used as part of the general maintenance of your bicycle at home. As their name implies they sit on the floor and are much heavier and larger than frame pumps. They almost always have gauges built in so that you can see the pressure of your tire while you are pumping it up.
Bicycle Suspension Pumps - Suspension pumps are designed to provide the very high pressures that are required by many shocks in order to perform well. The pumps are often rated up to 300 PSI and have a built in gauge. While they can be used to inflate tires, it can take a long time as they are designed for very high pressures and not high volumes.
Bicycle Electric Pumps - Electric pumps can be a really convenient way to inflate bicycle tires. Most will come with a Schrader valve as standard and will also have a relatively low maximum pressure rating, which makes them useful for mountain bikes, but often not for road bikes.
There are some more capable electric pumps that will supply higher pressures and these can be used on road bike tires with the right adapter.
Air compressors - Air compressors can be used to inflate bicycle tires, but you are likely to need a fairly heavy duty air compressor if you are considering inflating road tires with it as the pressure rating is not likely to be high enough on smaller compressors. In general air compressors require time to fill up and reach pressure, which can add a significant amount of time to your maintenance schedule if this is your main means of inflation.
Also note that compressors also tend not to have measurement gauges, instead they have tank pressure gauges indicating the level of pressure within the tank.
Air Pressure Gauges - Air pressure gauges are designed for a number of different applications, which are usually indicated by the maximum PSI rating of the gauge. Car tire gauges are often very simple, rated to 100 PSI and also much cheaper than bicycle tire gauges. Bicycle tire gauges are usually rated to at least 150 PSI and also come with either universal nozzles or multiple nozzles so that pressures can be measured from both Schrader and Presta valves.