The Best Bike Pump of 2020
Best Overall Bike Pump
Blackburn Piston 4
The Blackburn Piston 4 is an excellent pump that performed extremely well across all of our tests. This is the model our field team members were inspired to buy for themselves when the testing was over. The base of the Piston 4 is wide and stable, with plenty of space to stand on, and the overall construction is robust and sturdy. It pumps tires shockingly fast with a buttery smooth pumping motion, and it's super easy to connect and disconnect from any type of tire valve. The top-mounted gauge is crystal clear, easy to read, and highly accurate at reporting tire pressures, from high to low.
It's difficult to have much criticism for this well-designed pump, but we do wish the hose was a bit longer and that there was a way to secure the pump handle when not in use. The gauge is also mounted up top, which, while great for visibility, causes a bit of insecure top-heaviness — but not much. In most every respect, the Piston can't help but impress. It uses a smart mix of metal parts to enhance durability and longevity, and plastic to keep it from becoming too top-heavy. It's a wildly affordable option for what you get and easily rose to the top of our test pool.
Read review: Blackburn Piston 4
Exceptional Price and Performance
Topeak JoeBlow Sport III
The Topeak JoeBlow Sport III is our Editors' Choice runner-up for providing exceptional performance at an exceptional price point. It's highly durable, accurate, and easy to use — all the things you want in a bike pump. Both attachment and detachment are simple, clear, and require a minimal amount of muscle engagement. Inflation speed is fast and smooth, feeling practically the same at 100psi as it does at 20 — an impressive feat for sure. Overall, this pump balances price and performance extraordinarily well, to the point we had to recognize it with almost-top honors.
The hose on the Sport II is quite short, and the base, while good-looking, didn't wow us in the stability department. That said, the design is robust enough to handle a tumble from time to time. With that robustness comes a noticeable heaviness, but if you're just planning to keep your pump in a garage for home use, we doubt it'll cause a second thought. Bottom line, if you want to bask in that sweet spot of great performance and great price (and, let's face it, who doesn't?), then this is for sure a pump to consider.
Read review: Topeak JoeBlow Sport III
Best Bang for the Buck
The Crankbrothers Gem is not the most affordable pump in this review, but it's very reasonably priced and performs well in all of our tests — a combo we can't help but recognize. It uses a smart mix of metal and plastic to help keep the cost down, and this higher quality makes it a better value than the other low-cost models we tested. An especially interesting feature is the unique HV/HP switch, which allows the user to change on a dime between a high volume or high-pressure setting, depending on the type of tire and the PSI they're aiming to reach. The switch works well and makes this pump operate almost like two pumps in one.
The biggest downfall of the Gem is the pump head, which has separate holes for Presta and Schrader valves next to each other on the same side — not a design our testers generally enjoy using. However, its gauge is highly accurate, it is stable, and the components work as intended. It's an extremely versatile pump at a very reasonable price and one we heartily recommend.
Read review: Crankbrothers Gem
Best Value for User-Friendliness
The AerGun X-1000 is an ideal buy for anyone new to cycling due to its extreme user-friendliness. No matter what kind of valve you have — even if you don't know there are different ones — there's just one hole to worry about, and it works without letting hardly any air escape. There's an air-bleed valve if you get overzealous, and accuracy is top-notch. If you're on the hunt for something that's both affordable and easy to use, this is a great option to keep on your shortlist.
We wish the hose on the X-1000 were a bit longer and that the gauge was designed with more intention so as to be clearer. Stability also isn't anything to write home about — there's some wobble when pumping and the shape of the base isn't quite enough to ensure a topple will never happen. Nothing is mind-blowing about this pump, but it does everything it should simply, effectively, and at a great price.
Read review: AerGun X-1000
Best for Seating Tubeless Tires
Topeak JoeBlow Booster
With tubeless tires becoming mainstream in recent years, more and more riders are discovering installation is a bit more complicated than a traditional tubed tire. Tubeless tires require a sudden blast of air to seat the tire bead onto the rim — an air compressor is typically needed for this job. Enter the Topeak JoeBlow Booster. It functions in the same manner as a regular floor pump but also features an additional high-pressure air chamber that can be "charged" and released in much the same way as a noisy, corded, expensive air compressor. Construction is top-notch, there's a stable base with a 59-inch hose — so you can inflate tires from the neighboring zip code — and fine-tuning the pressure is a breeze.
So…is the Booster worth its hefty price tag? Yes indeed. It's heavy (both on the wallet and in your hands), but still reasonable enough to bring along on your next road trip to Moab so you can act as your own bike shop. The gauge doesn't do as well with low pressures, causing a tiny bit more discrepancy in the accuracy department, but this was relatively minor. All in all, for the right cyclist, the Booster is a solid buy that will afford you that much more autonomy over seating your own tubeless tires.
Read review: Topeak JoeBlow Booster
Why You Should Trust Us
Our head tester for this review is Mark Schanzenbach. Mark has been pedaling around on bicycles for most of his adult life, especially since 2011, when he traded his car — straight-up — for a new bike. Since then, he has been a daily, year-round cyclist in all types of weather, for commuting and recreation, in both Minneapolis, Minnesota, and New York City. Over that time, he's patched a lot of tires and pumped a lot of pumps.
Our floor pump tests involved, as one might expect, a whole lot of pumping. We tested for quantifiable factors like inflation speed and gauge accuracy, we measured weight and dimensions, and we made user-based assessments of more subjective things like handle comfort and overall construction quality. We also asked friends and fellow bicycle enthusiasts of varying levels to join in our testing rounds to balance our experts' perspectives on which features are best for novices versus pros, and to help determine which components work well for everyone, at any level of expertise.
Related: How We Tested Floor Bike Pumps
Analysis and Test Results
The goal of this article is to provide a comparative overview of the best bike floor pumps. After researching tons of options, we settled on the selection laid out here and set to work, attaching, pumping, detaching, and analyzing gauges and components. Our goal was to find the best overall pumps, best niche pumps, and the pumps that provide the best value. We honed in our testing to focus on what we consider to be the five most important attributes of a good bike pump: ease of attachment, stability, inflation speed, accuracy, and ease of using and reading the gauge. Depending on what kind of bike you prefer, you can focus in on the aspect that is most important to you, but our top scorers are those that offer the best performances across all of these metrics.
Related: Buying Advice for Floor Bike Pumps
Since we are sticklers for a good ride, we pump our tires to perfection almost every time we hit the road (or trail). This means we want an easy connection to the valve, a stable platform, and ease of pumping. We also want a gauge that is accurate, which is not as simple as it sounds — when we take off on our ride, we want to know that our tires are, in fact, inflated to the pressure we wanted. Read on to learn more about the specifics of our metrics and testing.
The purpose of a bike pump is to get air from the outside of a tire to the inside. This is a pretty simple task, and one could assume that anything that gets the job done is perfectly acceptable. Here at the GearLab, we like to question everything we can. And our first goal is to figure out if a product is worthy of its price tag. First, we like things that last. This is in direct conflict with marketing strategies that try to keep customers a little dissatisfied (or convince them that they are) so that they will buy something new — over and over again. As reviewers, we want to spend less of our precious dollars and find the products that are going to keep us happy for a long time.
A piece of gear with good value is something that will provide excellent performance AND a stellar price point. This review has some incredible options that hit both these marks with ease. Our Editors' Choice winners, the Blackburn Piston 4 and Topeak JoeBlow Sport III both exemplify this balance and are fantastic options to consider. We also have two Best Buy winners that will save you a few more bucks (though not a ton — our Editors' Choice winners are very affordable), the Crankbrothers Gem and AerGun X-1000. With so many options available that won't break the bank, you can really focus in on the features that are most important to you when making your final decision.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
The easiest pump heads to attach and detach from both Presta and Schrader valves in our tests are the Editors' Choice Blackburn Piston 4, and the Best Buy-winning AerGun X-1000. Both use straightforward and simple head designs, which automatically accommodate either type of valve with no adjustment by the user — just push the head onto either valve and lock the lever in place. It's a shockingly easy process, and in our field tests, it worked like a charm with both of these models.
The other two models that we really liked for this metric are both from Topeak: the JoeBlow Sport III, our second-place Editors' Choice, and the JoeBlow Booster, our Top Pick for Seating Tubeless Tires. The SmartHead on the Booster easily takes in whatever valve you have and secure via a strong metal lever. The Sport III is clearly marked for your valve type and is super easy to attach, though the hose is rather short.
The best pump heads attach easily to either Presta or Schrader valves with little or no air leakage, and with locking levers that are easy to move. Ideally, there is no little or no manual manipulation of the pump head required to switch back and forth between valve types.
In general, we are not psyched on the more common pump head design, with both Presta and Schrader valve attachment holes on the same side. This design is clumsy to use and lends itself to accidental air leakage when using Presta valves. Our Best Buy Award winner, the Crankbrothers Gem, uses this design, unfortunately, but its other features shine through and make up for this shortcoming.
Pumping up a bicycle tire can feel like a high-intensity interval workout. Our field tests looked like a CrossFit class pounding out sets of burpees with our testers side-by-side, furiously pumping away. A good bike pump needs a base at least as strong as you are to hold up to the force of pumping. Bases take a beating: they are smashed into the ground, stood upon, and beat back and forth. For this reason, the best bases are typically made of metal.
Pumps with metal tripod designs used for their bases are among our highest-scoring favorites. The Lezyne Steel Floor Drive, Crankbrothers Gem, Silca Pista Plus, and Blackburn Piston 4 pumps all have excellent tripod bases which keep pumps upright when you step away. The weight of the gauge built into the base also adds to the stability in some cases.
The benefits of tripod style bases are especially apparent when pumping outdoors on a less-than-level surface. Less stable pumps topple over easily when you're pumping on a grassy hillside covered in sticks and leaves. Tripod-based pumps are much more resilient in such scenarios.
One other top-ranking pump in this category is our Top Pick winner, the behemoth JoeBlow Booster. This pump was designed with an additional high-pressure air chamber used to seat the bead on tubeless tires. This is a tall, heavy pump, with a large steel base that provides a great foundation. There is plenty of room for feet, as the base measures 10 inches across and about 4 1/2 inches front to back, and there is an overbuilt plastic cradle mounted directly on top of the base, which holds the barrel and high-pressure chamber in place. No rubber or plastic protection is present on the underside of the base, so use caution when using this hefty pump on delicate surfaces.
The pumps scoring the lowest in this category were those for which stability was not a design priority. Fold-up feet or plastic bases might be more compact and light for travel, but don't impart the same kind of stability. Those with thin plastic rectangles for bases were about as easy to knock over as one would expect. If you plan to have your pump live in your garage at home, go for width and heft — there's really no reason not to.
When testing inflation speed, we counted the number of handle strokes to reach a specific, pre-determined pressure on different tires. We used mid-range pressures and pumped tires from 20 PSI to 80psi, for a consistent range that's available to all the pumps in our test. We also considered more subjective factors like the (perceived) amount of strength used in pumping. The stability of the pump entered into this as well — if a pump can't stop wobbling during pumping or feels like it's about to fall apart, the whole process is going to take longer.
We tested several high performers in this area, with the differences being just a handful of pump strokes in many cases. The top performer in this area is the Editors' Choice Piston 4, which manages to move the needle surprisingly quickly for a high-pressure pump rated to 220psi. Fan favorites like the Sport III and Steel Floor Drive both were high performers as well. With all of these pumps, the number of pump strokes was low, and the comfort and quality of those pump strokes was very high.
The Crankbrothers Gem deserves a special mention in this area for its unique HV/HP switch which allows pumping in either high volume or high-pressure mode and quick switching between the two. Using a hybrid pumping method beginning with the HV mode and switching to HP when the former becomes physically strenuous yields very impressive results. This pump also has a smooth pumping motion, especially compared to other models in its price range.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that the purely higher volume pumps we tested naturally used the fewest pump strokes to reach desired pressures — but you'll need some superhuman strength to reach high pressures using these models. The extremely high volume Bell Air Attack 650, and moderately high volume Schwinn Air Center Plus used 12 and 15 pump strokes respectively to pump a hybrid tire from 20 to 80psi, whereas the top performers listed above each used about 20. However, it was physically very challenging to pump to that pressure using either pump, and both are rated to higher pressures. The quality of pump strokes was also much lower, and both struggled to reach higher pressures, even relative to their reduced ranges.
During our testing, we had great success using the JoeBlow Booster and installed 29-inch, 27.5-inch, plus, and fat sized tubeless tires. Out of all the tires we seated, only one set (2 tires) of Continental Trail King 27.5 x 2.4-inch tubeless mountain bike tires refused to comply. This tire has a burly sidewall and is folded for packaging. Despite trying a bunch of tricks like setting the tire out in the sun, using Windex on the tire bead, using a tube to seat one side, etc., etc., we never got the tire to snap. To the Booster's credit, an air compressor didn't do the trick either. A couple shop mechanics even had a try, and neither could get the tire on; it took a combination of riding the tire with a tube installed for a couple of rides and leaving it in the hot car to get the pesky sidewalls to settle down.
Frequently when pumping up tires with all of these different pumps, including during testing of other metrics, we would cross-reference the pressure readings from pump gauges with a reading from our independent gauge (a humble device from Pro Bike Tool). Over the course of our testing, we amassed a number of readings for each pump; we also conducted a more direct comparison, pumping different tires to 30 and 80psi with each pump (according to its gauge), then comparing the reading with our own little gauge.
The most accurate pumps in this review are the Blackburn Piston 4, Crankbrothers Gem, AerGun X-1000, all three models from Topeak: the JoeBlow Sport III, JoeBlow Booster, and JoeBlow Pro X, and the German-engineered SKS Rennkompressor. These pumps are high quality across the board, and dependable accuracy came as no surprise. We weren't expecting the AerGun to make it to the top of this list, however, given its low price point and its unimpressive gauge — but numbers don't lie. It's a Best Buy Winner for a reason.
Some of our lowest-scoring pumps were also the worst in accuracy. The Bell Air Attack suffered from major issues: It was frequently off by 10psi or more and would show different readings after detaching and reattaching the pump head.
Pumping up a bike tire can be a workout; with sweat already starting to sting your eyes, it's no fun to bend over and squint to check what pressure the pump gauge is reading. Height, color combination, and print size, as well as construction materials, are some of the important factors that can make the difference between a good gauge and a bad one. Three of our testers' favorite gauges were all made by Topeak, on the JoeBlow Sport III, JoeBlow Pro X, and Joe Blow Booster. Large, clear, elevated gauges on these models are very attractive and easy to read. These folks know what they're doing in the gauge department.
The JoeBlow Sport III also features a handy chronograph dial that can be set at the desired pressure. This allows people with limited eyesight to preset the dial for easy reading when pumping. The AerGun X-1000 has an uninspiring gauge which is somewhat salvaged by a similar dial. The Editors' Choice Blackburn Piston 4 features an excellent gauge as well: it has large, black print on a contrasting silver background, mounted at the top of the pump for crystal clear readability.
The sleek and sexy Lezyne Steel Floor Drive has its gauge mounted atop the front tripod leg and is fully encased in metal, thwarting lots of potential damage. The gauge on this model has recently been upgraded from a moderate 2.5" to a humongous 3.75" diameter, adding additional heft to its base as well as increasing readability from a distance. The bold black and silver color scheme on polished metal gives this gauge a quality appearance.
All the bike pumps in this test lack precision if you only have tubeless mountain bike tires. Because of the low pressures used in these tires, often the first pressure readings on the gauges are where these tires are ridden; a separate low-pressure gauge would be nice. The higher volume Schwinn and Bell pumps are reasonably good at this, but both suffer from other gauge and accuracy-related shortcomings. Several of the companies making more highly-rated pumps offer other high-volume, low-pressure mountain bike specific pumps as well.
With so many bike pumps out there, you may find it difficult to choose the best one to fit your needs. We hope that you've found our ratings and tests helpful and that you've been able to narrow down the best option for you via our side-by-side comparisons. Now get out there and get after it!
— Mark Schanzenbach & Lyra Pierotti