Topeak JoeBlow Sport III Review
Cons: Odd base shape, heavier than most, short hose
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The JoeBlow Sport III is a good value, with consistently excellent all-around performance. It's a great all-around floor pump with few drawbacks and deserved popularity. We couldn't decide whether to award it a Best Buy or an Editors' Choice Award and landed on it being our runner-up Editors' Choice — great performance at a great price, the gear lovers' perfect combo.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
The TwinHead pump head of the Sport III has dedicated holes for Schrader and Presta on opposite sides, clearly marked with an S and P to help eliminate any potential confusion. The locking lever moves smoothly in either direction to secure the head in place.
One setback of this model is the length of the air hose, a rather short 30 inches. It caused no problems for us but is on the short end of the models we tested, so it's something to be aware of for anyone who likes a lot of space between their pumping position and their tires, due to factors like garage layout or work stand preference.
The sturdy metal base of the JoeBlow Sport III is rounded and smooth with a small notch at the rear. This design, while it is attractive, did not score as well in our stability tests as other models, most of which incorporate variations on a tripod design for their bases. This pump is also on the taller side, making it even easier to throw off balance. The weight of the base helps it to stay upright most of the time, but when the pump is free-standing, it is actually one of the easier models to knock over; it especially has a tendency to fall forward onto the gauge. Luckily the gauge is solidly built and handled the abuse well in our tests.
Instability was much less apparent when standing on the base during pumping, which, of course, is the base's primary purpose. A large, inflexible, flat surface under your feet is very effective at holding a pump in place. The perimeter of the hardened steel base is almost sharp on the bottom and has no padding to protect delicate surfaces, so care should be exercised to prevent floor damage if using this pump indoors.
The JoeBlow III was on the quicker end of our inflation speed tests. The number of pump strokes required to reach the desired pressure was always on the lower end, though there were a couple of pumps that required fewer strokes. However, this model also receives high marks due to a smooth, easy pumping motion that feels just about the same at 20psi as it does at 100psi. The 10 inch wide, padded handle also helps make pumping a quick, comfortable experience.
The Sport III was among the top scorers in accuracy as well, always within a couple of PSI (which seems to be the margin of error) of our independent gauge after several tests pumping to different pressures on various tires. As was previously mentioned, there were no significant problems with air escaping from the pump head when removing it from the valve, which can be a major cause of inaccuracies.
The JoeBlow III gauge is over 3 inches across and this comfortable size combined with large, clear labeling and an adjustable guide make accurate pressure measurement a breeze. The JoeBlow's gauge is among the top-rated of all pumps tested.
Space is used very efficiently on this gauge. Large white numbers along the outside rim measure PSI, with numerals on the 20's and notches on the 5's. Large yellow bar readings live inside by the needle, with odd numerals 1 through 11, and each bar is broken into fourths. It's all straightforward to read on a black background; even in bright sunshine or dim indoor light, our testers had no trouble determining these measurements while standing tall above the pump. The adjustable guide along the outside rim is hardly necessary considering the ease of reading the numerical measurements, but it's still an excellent addition — just set the guide to your desired pressure, pump until the needle points to that spot, and you're good to go. It's also handy for users with one set of tires who tend to forget what PSI they should use!
As the stability of the JoeBlow III is not its strongest suit, our tests saw it topple forward several times with the gauge taking the brunt of the impact. We also tossed it around onto the sidewalk a few times just to be certain. The body of the gauge is all plastic, but it doesn't look or feel flimsy, and it sustained no significant damage beyond some small surface scratches from these falls.
The Sport III offers great value. There are thriftier options out there, but the savings are modest, and those pumps aren't as high performing as this one. We feel that this model exemplifies a stellar value, masterfully marrying fantastic performance with a more-than-fair price.
The Topeak JoeBlow Sport III is an excellent all-around performer and nabs our second-place Editors' Choice pick. Attach the TwinHead with ease to either Schrader or Presta valves, set your desired pressure on the big clear gauge, and pump away on the big cushiony handle. Accurate, intuitive, and simple, it is workable by beginners and appreciated by veterans. While not as stable as some other pumps, it's not going anywhere while you're standing on it, and it's sturdy enough to take the occasional tumble and make it out alive.
— Mark Schanzenbach