The Crank Brothers Sterling SG is a high-quality mini pump with a pressure/volume selector, and an integrated gauge. It's a good all-around performer and is most comparable to the Pro Bike Tool High Pressure Pump in pumping performance. The integrated pump head is easy to use but does not offer the ergonomics of a flex hose pump head.
Crank Brothers Sterling SG Review
Cons: Lacks durability, expensive
Manufacturer: Crank Brothers
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sterling features an integrated pressure gauge and a pump head that converts automatically to both Presta and Schrader valves. Pumping mode is selectable with either a pressure or volume mode. This pump is a good all-rounder with some unique features.
Pumping performance is middle of the road, neither great nor terrible. The Sterling is designed for both pressure and volume use, much like the Silca Pocket Impero. It does a decent job at all applications but is not a superior performer. We reached 45 psi in our road tire test in the pressure mode on the pump.
For comparison, Lezyne Road Drive hit 70 psi in the same test. The Sterling will get you up to 90 psi, but it is a lot of work and pumping effort rapidly ramps up with increasing pressure. In the mountain bike tire test, the Sterling hit 17 psi in volume mode where our top performing mountain pumps are hitting the high 30 psi range. The pump head is also not as good as other designs and leaks air if a 90-degree angle is not maintained continuously.
Ease of Use
We like the pump head, which works with both Presta and Schrader valves. Attaching to either valve is easy, press it on and flip the locking lever and you are ready to pump. There is a pressure/volume selector on the handle to improve pumping performance based on application.
The adjustable mode option is also found on the Vibrelli Mini, but the adjustment knob on the Sterling is much easier to use. Pumping is smooth, but the integrated head does not offer the ergonomics of a flex hose pump such as the Pro Bike Tool. The built-in gauge is easy to read, but it is sometimes less visible.
Looks and Design
This is a nice looking pump. It has an integrated gauge on the pump head, which is round, rather than the inline gauge style found on the Pro Bike Tool. The gauge is accurate to within 5psi, so it gives a good indicator of pumping progress. We like that the pump head easily switches between Presta and Schrader, but the seal on valves is less than ideal. We would gladly take the extra effort of a thread on connection for the increased seal. The pressure/volume selector knob is a nice feature, but pumps without them such as the Silca Pocket Impero have similar if not better performance across the pressure/volume spectrum.
The Sterling is a nice compact size at 20cm and fits well in a jersey pocket. It weighs 140g, putting it in the middle of the mini pump weight range for the products we tested. It comes with a frame mount bracket that has a pump head plug to prevent contamination. If portability is a top concern, the Topeak Race Rocket and Lezyne Pressure Drive are ideal.
The pump head showed deterioration during testing. The seal on valve stems was never great, but it got worse with use. While the rest the pump held up well during testing, the Editors' Choice award-winning Lezyne Road Drive or Lezyne Gauge Drive will offer a higher level of durability.
The Sterling will work for both mountain and road use. However, the pump works better at pressure applications, so it is better suited to road use.
The Sterling retails for $45, and there are much better pumps available for far less.
Overall, the Sterling is a quality mini pump, with good all-around performance. Unfortunately, the pump head does not provide a good seal on valve stems, and also lacks durability.
Crank Brothers also makes a longer version of the Sterling (Sterling lg) and makes both the short and long versions without a gauge.
— Curtis Smith