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Hands-on Gear Review
Nashbar Earl Grey Review
Cons: Inaccurate, air loss on attachment, rubber base sleeve ripped
Bottom line: An inexpensive and functional option for inflating your tires.
Weight: 6.00 lbs
Hose Length: 42 in
Maybe you clicked this review because you want a floor pump that doesn't equate to three days of wages. Living in a resort town where beers cost nine bucks a pop, we get it. If we didn't test this pump alongside some super sweet Gucci pumps, we'd recommend it without reservation. But we did, so here's our take. The gauge is large and in charge with shiny numbers that stand out against the black background. Here's the thing though: it's lying to you. Just know that when the gauge reads 120 psi, it probably meant to say 114 psi. It's cool though, since you just want it to put air in your tires. The base is stable but there's a good chance you'll rip the delicate rubber sleeve that protects your floors, and ultimately, your security deposit if you try to remove it. Just leave it alone. There's nothing you need to see under there. The plastic dual-head is pretty typical for a price-point pump. It's a bit fussy, but if you can lace a line through techy rock gardens, we trust you'll figure it out quick enough.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bike Pumps - Floor Models Compared
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
If Nashbar catalogs aren't already flooding your mailbox, check out the Earl Grey if you want a reliable, inexpensive floor pump perfect for light-duty use. Compared to other pumps in the price range, we were pleased to see a metal base and large gauge. The gauge proved a bit inaccurate in our testing but if you can live with being off by a few psi, this might be a perfect match. The head takes Presta on one side and Schrader on the other. At $29.99, this was the least expensive pump we tested and it makes an excellent budget pick. If you've got a few extra dollars to spend, check out our Best Buy award winning Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2.
The rounded tripod base of the Earl Grey reminded us of a Stealth fighter jet. It proved exceptionally stable, given the large surface area of the base and the fact that the entire underside is covered with a removable rubber pad. The rubber increased grip on tiled shop floors and protected the base on rougher surfaces, such as driveways. We did accidentally rip a corner of the rubber base when pulling it off to inspect the underside of the metal base; the edges of the base are somewhat sharp and the rubber is thin and weak. We question the long-term durability of this feature.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
The dual-head design of this contender uses one side for Presta valves and the other accommodates Schrader valves. The grey colored side is marked with a P for Presta and the black side an S for well, you get it. This design can theoretically increase the longevity of the pump head by dividing the use amongst different ports. Of course, this is only applicable if you tend to inflate both types of valves on a somewhat equal basis; the head is made completely of plastic. If one thing is for certain, we tend to prefer metal over plastic on high-use parts. The similar head design on the Joe Blow Sport features a metal locking lever opposed to the plastic one on the Earl Grey. That being said, we never experienced any problem with the head or lever on the Early Grey. Should you ever need to replace the head/hose, you'll only need to search the couch cushions for seven bucks. We found that these types of heads tend to produce the greatest air loss on attachment; you'll get better at it over time, but the force required to flip the lever and secure the head to the valve often caused air leakage. All this means is that you'll maybe need an extra stroke or two to inflate the tire. Detachment is pretty simple and fast. The 42 inch hose was slightly above average compared to the others we tested, but its position at the base of the pump made its effective length seem shorter than measured.
Despite its position on the base (just above ground level), this pump had one of our favorite gauges. Often times the increased distance proved more difficult to read, but the large, silver numerals really popped against the black background. The bright red needle was also easy for the eye to pick up. A chronograph dial can be set at the desired pressure and the sharp end of the needle comes within a fraction of an inch to the end of the red arrow used on the dial.
For such an inexpensive pump, we were surprised that the Earl Grey ranked third in our test for inflation speed; check out how we test. We felt an above average amount of resistance when pumping up road bike tires to the max, but the stable base and solid (plastic) handle helped the effort.
The unfortunate fact that the Earl Grey was consistently off the mark by as much as 5 psi was this pump's biggest detriment. We checked, rechecked, and checked again, but the reading on the pump's gauge was always off by a good degree from our digital pressure gauge; no other pump in our test exhibited such a discrepancy. If you're content with simply squeezing the tire to determine when there's enough air in it, perhaps the misreading won't bother you.
If you've been hesitant to buy a floor pump because you already have a frame pump and that's good enough, just plunk down the 30 bucks and buy this pump. It really is easier than pounding away and sweating with a frame pump to increase your tire pressure 2 psi for every 100 pumps. Even though this pump lacked accuracy, it's probably better than you were doing with your squeeze test.
At $29.99, this was the least expensive pump in our test. We feel it is an exceptional value as a light-duty pump. If you plan to use this pump a ton and are picky about the pressure you like to run in your tires, this might not be the best choice. The gratuitous use of plastic also calls into question the long-term durability of the product. Fortunately, your purchase is protected under Nashbar's Forever Guarantee. If you aren't happy with the Earl Grey, return it anytime for a refund or exchange.
With the exception of being less accurate than the other pumps, this pump was a strong contender for our Best Buy Award. If you are an occasional rider and want an efficient, affordable bike pump, the Earl Grey will likely check a lot of the boxes in your purchase requirements. For the more discerning, everyday rider that will put years of heavy use into a pump, the Earl may fall short.
— Sean Cronin
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