You can't avoid it. If you are a mountain or road bike rider, sooner or later your tires are going to flat out on you, usually when you least want it to happen. Don't despair when it happens, unless you happen to have not equipped yourself with a tire pump of one form or another. Your style of riding helps determine a proper choice of bicycle pump. If you are going to wait until you get back to the car or workshop, you have additional choices for bike pump styles. Almost all new bicycle pumps today have adapters for both Presta- and Schrader-style valves.
CO2 Cartridge Pumps
The CO2 cartridge pumps are quick little devices often seen in use during mountain bike races, particularly during 24-hour endurance events. The CO2 pump is a small piece of plastic with a trigger and an area where you place a CO2 sealed cartridge. Screw down the trigger mechanism opening the cartridge.
Slip the valve nozzle onto the tire's nozzle and pull the trigger, giving you around 20 PSI of air into your tire. Some new mountain bike tires may need two cartridges to get a full tube of air. Disadvantages to the CO2 Cartridge Pump is that the cartridges sometimes misfire, leaving you a long way from home without air in your tires.
Mini & Frame Fit Pumps
Mini and frame fit pumps are long, small and cylindrical. The pumps fit on a length of the bike frame, usually on the inner down tube where you have quick and easy access. The pumps are secured to the frame with Velcro or plastic lid attachments.
Mini pumps are truncated versions of the longer frame fit pumps and work the same way. To work either of these pumps, you open the valve attachment clip, insert it on the tire nozzle, lock the clip down and then begin pumping by pulling out a nesting mechanism that brings air into the tire.
Many of these pumps are designed to put air into the tire on both the in and out, drawing motion from the pump, making them efficient with your energy expenditure. Downsides to these pumps are that they sometimes slip off the tire nozzle or get gummed up and do not pump as much air as needed.
These are the big boys of the bike tire pump world. Floor pumps give the maximum amount of air into tires, as they have a long and deep draw and push more PSI into the tires than hand held mini and frame fit pumps.
A floor pump is a great option for workshops and garages. If you're going to participate in a race, bring a floor-style pump with you for your workshop area. Floor pumps have two-foot pegs where you stand, securing the pump into place. There is a long, thin handle you grab with both hands, like an old TNT detonator, and pull up and push down to force the air into the bicycle tire. Because of the pumps' size, these are not a practical choice to bring on trails and rides.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.