Topeak JoeBlow Pro X Review
Cons: Unusual base shape, awkward height, pump head causes air loss
Our Analysis and Test Results
The JoeBlow Pro X ultimately failed to impress our reviewers. It's a good pump that will get the job done, but there are better-performing products available at much lower price points.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
One of the major draws of the Pro X is its SmartHead, which connects to either Presta or Schrader valves with no adapters and no adjustment. This has been a favorite head design with our testers when included on other pumps; connecting a pump to any tire with such simplicity is a major timesaver and easy to learn for a novice. The SmartHead on the Pro X works, but unfortunately didn't perform as well in our tests as other pumps with similar heads. This one requires the user to push quite hard, past a rush of significant air loss, to get a solid lock on a tire valve. It can be tricky to remove the head without air loss as well, although our testers were able to get the hang of this with some practice. It's not a terrible pump head by any means, but it had the worst performance for this type of head and comes on one of the most expensive pumps.
A big advantage the Pro X does have to help ease the attachment process is its massively long hose; at 57 inches, it's one of the longest we've seen available anywhere. This hose also originates from the gauge near the top of this very tall pump, meaning the head can reach about 6 feet high while the pump sits on the ground! This makes reaching the head to a tire valve a cinch in just about any conceivable position, even up on a work stand or a raised surface.
The JoeBlow Pro X uses a large and sturdy metal base. It's larger and more rectangular than other models from Topeak, but this doesn't seem to have much positive effect on the pump's stability. This pump is one of the easier models to knock over, partially because its base foregoes the classic tripod shape. It's also extremely tall — at a hair over 29 inches, it's the tallest pump we've seen. Its oversized gauge is mounted near the top, contributing even more to its tendency to topple.
During the pumping process, the Pro X does feel well built and stable, with little wobbling or unsteadiness. Our testers whose genetics didn't grant them height in abundance found the pumping process less stable, as they struggled to work this extra-large device. Like other JoeBlows, the steel base has sharp corners on the bottom, so be careful before using it on your antique hardwood floors.
Our testers anticipated excellent, off-the-charts inflation speed from the Pro X due to its size; it's the tallest pump we've tested, with a barrel that appears wider than most, at least from the sides. In reality, the pump performed similarly to other high-performing high-pressure pumps. In addition to taking more pump strokes to move the needle, full pump strokes with this device are very long and very high up, making the process slow and awkward. One chooses between raising the handle only part way and getting inefficient partial pump strokes, or raising the handle to the top and having less leverage to push it back down.
The pump does have some speed advantages in other areas, however; the head is quick to attach/detach once you get the hang of it, the gauge is right there in your face for easy reading, and the hose is so long you won't spend a lot of time positioning the pump to be close to your tire. The handle is also big and comfortable, which helps ease other issues with the pumping motion.
The Pro X did very well in our accuracy test, generally off by just 1 or 2psi from our independent gauge at different pressures, which is a pretty negligible difference. There are some struggles with air loss to consider with the pump head on this model, so it's much more likely that your accuracy will be affected by air squirting out inadvertently than by any problems with gauge accuracy.
The Pro X has a very nice 3.5" gauge with large clear numbering, top-mounted for easy reading. Topeak pumps tend to have excellent gauges, and this is no exception. Numbers are printed in white on a black background, with an orange needle, and the pressure is very easy to read while standing above the pump. That said, this gauge has done away with the adjustable guide that over models use to help set a certain pressure before pumping. It's not strictly necessary on a pump with such a large top-mounted gauge, but our testers still prefer gauges with those guides.
When we originally ordered this pump for testing, it arrived with an air leak somewhere in the back of the gauge; when pumping up a tire, a hissing sound would come from that area, and air pressure would very slowly leak out until the pump was disconnected. It was unclear whether this was a manufacturing defect or damage suffered during shipping. We ordered a replacement, and the new pump did not have any similar issues, so the defect in the original was not factored into the score for the Pro X.
This pump will run you twice as much as a lot of the competition, without much extra benefit. It's a high-quality pump, but if value is a consideration you're prioritizing, we recommend looking at other options.
The Topeak JoeBlow Pro X performed well across our tests; it's certainly a well made high-performance pump. The base and head weren't favorites of our testers, but they work, and the gauge and long hose are nice perks. The inflation speed is roughly average for full-size high-pressure floor pumps. It's also a very nice looking device, tall and shiny and dressed all in black. Consider all of your options before dropping dollars on this product, but if you do decide to pick one up, you'll find, despite our critiques, that you have a really nice bike pump.
— Mark Schanzenbach
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