Serfas TCPG Review
Cons: Difficult to read gauge, unstable base, lowest inflation speed
Our Analysis and Test Results
The TCPG is our little pump that could! It's much shorter than the other pumps in the group at 23 inches and is among the lightest at 2.5 lbs. It was easy to throw it in cars or pack it in with luggage. We even stuffed it into a backpack and rode a bike without a problem! It is durable as well, as a good travel pump needs to be. It has a single "simple valve" head that fits both Presta and Schrader valves, which is convenient and only adds to the ease of use you'll experience with this basic pump. The plastic handle was a bit narrow for our liking, giving our triceps a bit more of a workout than the other pumps; out of all of the pumps, the Park Tool PFP-8 was the only contender that was narrower.
The TCPG has a secure hose attachment for storage of the ball needle and accessory inflators that it comes with. The small, cluttered gauge of the TCPG ranked at the bottom of our scoring metric; despite being raised off the ground about 7 3/4 inches, the black numbers, small print, and numerous intermediate markings made the gauge difficult to read. Furthermore, the linear markings between numbers were in increments of 2.5 psi; nobody wants to do mental math when looking at a gauge. Also, mainly because of its size and its tapered sides, the base of this pump is not as stable as the larger, better-shaped bases, such as those of the Lezyne Steel Floor Drive, Lezyne Steel Digital Drive, Topeak Joe Blow Booster, Topeak Joe Blow Sport 2, or Nashbar Earl Grey.
We ranked the TCPG as the least stable pump in the test. The plastic rectangular-ish base measures 9 1/2 inches from right to left and 3 1/2 inches front to back at it's widest point. There is a small protrusion at the front of the pump where the hose and gauge emanate from, but we would hardly qualify this as a tripod design.
While not the narrowest in the test, the design resulted in our testers repeatedly knocking it over and with the slightest budge; it was also prone to falling over when fixing the pump head to the valve. A slightly ramped angle and small conical rubber pieces hold the sole of the shoe where the user stands on the base, helping to stabilize during pumping. A lack of rubber on the base made the pump feel "slidey" on tiled floors or oily garage floors.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
The "simple valve" on the TCPG is aptly named, accepting both Presta and Schrader valves without unscrewing, flipping, or otherwise altering the head. To further increase ease of use, pictures of both valve types are printed on the side of the head with an arrow pointing towards the lock lever.
This budget-minded pump will likely appeal to the recreational cyclist and we feel the intuitive design will be well received. The lever that locks the head was quite stiff and will likely require most users to use both hands to secure the head onto the valve. Fussing around during attachment might cost you a few psi and result in more pumps to make up for the air lost. The lever stiffness allows the lever to snap open and detach the head quickly, helping to minimize air loss on detachment. The head is fully plastic and cycling the lever thousands of times did result in some loosening up; this loosening actually made attachment a bit easier and hardly could be considered excessive wear.
The gauge on the TCPG was our least favorite of all pumps we tested. The diameter of the gauge is a mere 1.75 inches and small black numbers with multiple intermediate hash marks left us squinting and bending down to determine a reading. The incremental hashes also added to the difficulty, as they were spaced at 2.5 psi. For example, the first small hash after 60 psi would indicate a tire pressure of 62.5 psi. We appreciated the chronograph dial but even that was of limited use in obtaining a precise gauge reading. A gap of 0.25 inches separated the end of the gauge needle from the arrow on the chronograph so 'eyeballing" the measurement was still necessary.
Admittedly, the author needed a couple of chances to pass his college physics course but retained enough knowledge to understand that the short and skinny barrel on the TCPG provides less air volume per stroke than the larger pumps. Our tests confirmed that this pump required up to 27 percent more pumping than some of the others, ranking it last in this category. The short hose on this pump will also mean the pump needs to be moved if both tires need inflating. We realize this isn't a major chore, but if you're looking to inflate your tires Nascar pit crew style, there are better choices.
This model was the only pump we tested whose pump pressure readings were consistently below the digital gauge readings. Per our digital pressure gauge confirmations, the TCPG was shown to be +2 psi its gauge reading on average. Stopping short by one line on the gauge will get you in the ballpark of your desired reading.
The TCPG makes a great travel pump when you want to bring more than just a frame pump. It was the lightest and smallest pump we tested and we were able to cram it into a suitcase and even cooler, a backpack. The ball needle and accessory inflator included with the pump makes this a great general household pump for various inflation needs.
One of the least expensive pumps we tested, second only to the Nashbar Earl Grey, this pump represent an excellent value. Serfas provides a lifetime warranty on all their pumps; factor in the ball needle and accessory inflator, as well as that trip you just saved to the hardware store, and this pump is worth the 5 dollar price difference. The handy storage spot on the tube for these extras helps ensure you wont lose them.
Pack up the inflatable pool raft, put the bikes on the bike racks, fill up the best cooler and hit the lake! Don't forget to toss the TCPG into the minivan with the kids. This portable, travel-worthy bike pump will do it all. Sure, the gauge is hard to read and you'll work a little harder pumping up that raft, but you've got the time to spare. You're in chill mode and can't feel the difference between 62 and 64 psi anyhow.
— Sean Cronin