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.
Portland Design Works Ninja Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very compact and light, CO2 regulator
Cons: Expensive, terrible pumping performance
Manufacturer: Portland Design Works
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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