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Portland Design Works Ninja Review

A great C02 cartridge regulator with a hand pump option that performs very poorly.
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Price:  $35 List | $26.99 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very compact and light, CO2 regulator
Cons:  Expensive, terrible pumping performance
Manufacturer:   Portland Design Works
By Ross Patton ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 1, 2019
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 18
  • Pumping Performance - 30% 2
  • Ease of Use - 30% 6
  • Portability - 20% 8
  • Looks and Design - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Portland Design Works Ninja frame pump does its job as a CO2 cartridge regulator. As far as the hand pump aspect goes it falls short in pumping performance. It has an innovative design and some very cool features, it is also the lightest pump that we tested. However, Portland Design Works may have aimed a little too much toward style, and not quite enough toward functionality.


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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very compact and light, CO2 regulatorGreat pumping performance, easy to use, affordableExcellent pumping power, highly portable, digital readoutDurable, user friendly, pumping performanceEasy to use, threadless valve head, retractable hose, doubles as a front shock pump
Cons Expensive, terrible pumping performanceHeavy, Too big to fit in a jersey or a hip packToo large for a frame mount or to fit in a hip packLack of versatilityHose is short, not as powerful as larger pumps, not for road bikes
Bottom Line A great C02 cartridge regulator with a hand pump option that performs very poorly.A frame pump that performs like a floor pump.If you ride with a hydration pack and want the most pumping power possible, this is the one.Awesome mini pump for high pressure, low volume tires.The ideal pump for a mountain biker looking for a capable, lightweight, low-profile frame, or jersey pocket, pump.
Rating Categories Portland Design Works Ninja Topeak Road Morph G Micro Floor Digital Drive HVG Lezyne Pressure Drive Birzman Velocity Apogee MTB
Pumping Performance (30%)
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7
Ease Of Use (30%)
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7
Portability (20%)
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Looks And Design (10%)
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Specs Portland Design... Topeak Road Morph G Micro Floor... Lezyne Pressure... Birzman Velocity...
Weight 73g 204g 242g 90g 136g
Length 14.7cm 35cm 30.48cm 19cm 17.78cm
25C Road Tire Pressure following 200 Pumps 12psi 125psi 76 psi at 100 pumps 60psi 44 psi at 100 pumps
Tire Pressure 27.5 x 2.3" Following 300 Pumps 10psi 50psi 40 psi at 200 pumps 17psi 22psi
Ability to reach 90psi in a road tire 25cc No Yes N/A Yes N/A
Pump Head Type Threaded Hose with locking lever Threaded hose w/pressure relief valve Hose Thread On Non-thread hose, slip on
Presta Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Schrader Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frame Mount Bracket Included? No No Yes Yes Yes
Pressure Gauge? No Yes Yes No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

In many ways, this is an impressive little frame pump. The size and weight of the Portland Design Works Ninja are both tiny in comparison to some of the other mini pumps that we've reviewed. It has a threaded valve female that easily converts between Presta and Schrader mode in seconds and a CO2 cartridge regulator that inflates a tire in less than a second. If getting back on your ride in the least amount of time possible is your goal, then this pump is the one, provided that you have a cartridge.

Performance Comparison




Pumping Performance


The Ninja was not designed for pumping to be its primary purpose. Although the CO2 regulator does its job, the hand pump half of the hybrid barely does anything at all. After 300 strokes on a 25c road bike tire, it only attained 20 psi. For a 27.5" x 2.3" mountain bike tire, it produced 10 psi after 300 strokes. With the diameter of the barrel and the length of the stroke, this comes as no surprise. Without a CO2 cartridge, it would likely get you home, but you had better be careful not to get another flat.

If you'd like a CO2 inflation/hand pump hybrid with a little more pumping power, we recommend going with our Top Pick Award winner for CO2 users, the Blackburn CO2'Fer Mini.

The main function of the Ninja is CO2 cartridge regulator.
The main function of the Ninja is CO2 cartridge regulator.

Ease of Use


When it comes to ease of use, the Ninja is not near the top of the list. Threaded valve females will always take longer than standard locking lever style pumps, but usually, a pump with threads has a flex hose. The Ninja threads on, but once it is on it is then rigidly connected to the valve stem. Add the fact that you're going to have to make hundreds of short, fast strokes and you might end up with a bent or snapped stem.

For a compact, sleek looking pump that is easier to use and outperforms the Ninja, check out our Editors' Choice Award for road bike winner the Lezyne Road Drive. The Road Drive includes a threaded flex hose that takes some of the frustration out of being unexpectedly sidelined.

Portability


In the portability department, the Ninja is king. It is tiny. It weighs 73 grams alone, and even with a CO2 cartridge, it will only add 89 grams to your overall weight. If you were to bring two or three CO2 cartridges, it would still be lighter than many pumps that we've tested. At 14.7 cm long, not only will it fit in your jersey, it will fit in many under seat bags.

This pump takes up almost no room at all on your frame.
This pump takes up almost no room at all on your frame.

Looks and Design


The Ninja is a great looking, innovative pump. The conversion between Presta and Schrader is not complicated. Subtle details like the magnet that holds the pump shut when not in use or the frame mount that will not let go of the pump even in the bumpiest conditions set it apart from others. Some parts of the design take away from functionality. The tiny stroke length and barrel diameter don't make sense.

A pump that looks great on your frame, as well as great performance, is our previous Best Buy Award winner the Pro Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump with Gauge. This pump offers the same slender aluminum look but includes a flex hose, a pressure gauge, and some real pumping power at a lower cost.

This model has a small magnet between the handle and the pump head to keep ensure it stays closed when not in use.
This model has a small magnet between the handle and the pump head to keep ensure it stays closed when not in use.

Durability


The Ninja is mostly aluminum, which is strong. Durability is more complex than just the materials the pump is made from This pump has two individual threaded valve females, one for the bicycle valve, and one for the CO2 cartridge. They are both completely unprotected from the elements in any way. This eliminates it from a frame mounted mountain bike application and makes it a risk for long-term use on the road.

For a more durable, yet still compact frame pump, we suggest looking at the Lezyne Gauge Drive HV for mountain bike use or the Lezyne Road Drive for road bike tires.

Best Applications


There is only one, specific application for the Ninja- if you want an extremely light CO2 cartridge inflation regulator that can get you home if you run out of cartridges.

This one is both a hand pump and CO2 inflator.
This one is both a hand pump and CO2 inflator.

Value


The value of the Portland Design Works Ninja is pretty low. It looks great, but for only a few more dollars you can purchase our Top Pick Award winner for CO2 users the Blackburn Mammoth CO2'Fer Mini that offers better pumping performance.

Conclusion


The designers of the Ninja are on the right track, but this pump needs improvement. To truly be a hand pump/CO2 cartridge hybrid, it needs to do a better job of pumping. We would recommend looking to our Best in Class review for better insight.



Ross Patton