We thoroughly researched over 30 top-performing bike floor pumps before buying 14 for side-by-side tests, evaluating each for accuracy, air loss and ease of use. We looked at both classic brands as well as some newer less expensive ones and were surprised to find that price didn't always equal quality. Some of the best-priced bike pumps performed the best, while others fell apart. This year, we include three models designed for tubeless tires to reflect the growing popularity of discarding tubes.
The Best Bike Pumps - Floor Models Compared
We tested the redesigned Topeak Joe Blow Booster III. This updated model is identical to the prior version aside from a new SmartHead nozzle that allows users to bleed air out of the head to minimize unintended air pressure drops when removing the nozzle. We set two wheelsets up tubeless and the Joe Blow is still effective.
Our Favorite and a Great Value
Topeak JoeBlow Sport III
After rigorous testing of several great models, we found the JoeBlow Sport III to be an excellent bike pump which should be well-suited for the needs of most users. A new addition to ToPeak's lineup (and an upgrade from the popular JoeBlow Sport II, which we previously tested and won our Best Buy award), it's an affordable and high-performance option that has just about everything you could want. The big beautiful chronograph-inspired pressure gauge is our favorite design we tested, and our tests show that it's highly accurate in its readings. The wide, padded handle and sturdy construction provide a comfortable and sturdy experience. When designing the Sport III, ToPeak used a smart mix of metal parts to enhance durability and longevity, combined with plastic to keep weight and costs down. The plastic parts seem sturdy and well-made, making them much less concerning than the construction of some flimsier plastic models we tried.
Read review: ToPeak JoeBlow Sport III
Surprising Performance for The Price
The X-1000 is neither the least expensive bike pump we tested, nor the top performing model, but it's very affordable and performed quite well in all of our tests. It earned the second-highest overall score. We determined that the mix of quality performance and low price provides excellent overall value. The AerGun is mostly plastic, so there is a trade-off of some stability and durability compared to more expensive higher-end models. However, we loved its simple no-fuss head that connects to either Schrader or Presta valves with no adjustment by the user. Its gauge is highly accurate, even though it's not much to look at. Everything works as intended, there's no hassle, and it's half the price of other models that scored in the same range in our tests. It ain't that fancy, but it will do a good job at everything you need, and the price is right. This one's got it where it counts. If this one is not available, the next best one in this price range is the Vibrelli.
Read review: AerGun X-1000
Top Pick 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, with an air compressor typically being needed for this job. The JoeBlow Booster 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 manner as a noisy, corded, expensive air compressor. It takes about 50 pumps to reach the 160 psi that the chamber holds. A selector dial surrounds the elevated, easy-to-read gauge; when rotated, the air rushes out and snaps the tire bead onto the rim. Construction of the Booster was top-notch, as is its stable base. With a 59-inch hose, you can inflate tires from the neighboring zip code, while fine-tuning the pressure is a breeze. It's the most expensive model we tested by a long shot, but is it worth the $160 price tag? Yes indeed. It's heavy, but you can still easily bring it along on a road trip to Moab. Recently, the nozzle was redesigned to feature a lower profile air release button. Take a look at the individual review to learn more about these changes.
Read review: Topeak JoeBlow Booster
Innexpensive Option for Seating Tubeless Tires
Airshot 1.15L Tubeless Inflator
The Airshot 1.15L Tubeless Inflator is a slick alternative to "booster" style models. This compact 1.15 Liter air can is a small unit that works with any floor pump. Simply attach a floor pump to the Presta valve on the Airshot and pressurize it up to 120-160 PSI. Then, attach the Airshot to your tire and release the air to seat the tire. The chuck allows users to either inflate the tire through the tire's Presta valve or remove the valve core and fire air directly into the tire. This unit certainly works better when removing the valve core. We tried the Airshot with multiple rim and tire combinations with 100 percent success. We found this unit to seat tires far more easily than the JoeBlow Booster. The downside? It is just one more tool to bring along on riding trips.
Analysis and Test Results
A new bike pump may not be the most thrilling piece of bike equipment, but it's essential to your long-term bicycling happiness.
Go ahead, hover over the blue and black dots below to see which bike pumps were the best value. In this case there, was a clear winner as the AerGun came out on top. All the cheaper models scored much more poorly. The surprise here is the Editors' Choice was not that much more expensive. This confirms the numerous top value awards the JoeBlow has won in the past.
Pumping up a bicycle tire to full pressure can be a full aerobic workout, especially when pumping different tires over and over, as our testers quickly learned. The base of a floor pump needs to be as strong as you are to hold up to the forces. Bases take a pretty good beating; they come in contact with the ground, you stand on them, they need to hold the bike pump steady while the handle is thrusting up and down. We found most of the best, most stable bases to be made from metal.
One top-ranking contender in this category was our Top Pick winner the behemoth JoeBlow Booster. It has an additional high-pressure air chamber used to seat the bead on tubeless tires. This is tall and massive with a large steel base that provided 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. An overbuilt plastic cradle mounted directly on top of the base holds the barrel and high-pressure chamber in place. There is no rubber or plastic protection to the underside. It's not the base that needs protection though, just use caution when using this hefty beast on delicate surfaces.
The svelte, minimalist tripod design used for the base of the Lezyne Steel Floor Drive was another high-scoring favorite. Tripod bases do a great job of keeping pumps upright while they're standing on their own; the weight of the gauge built into the base of this model also adds to stability. The back feet are long enough to be useful and give the user something to stand on, while still maintaining the slim profile of the pump.
The low scorers in this category were frankly those for which stability was not a design priority. The tiny Lezyne Micro Floor Drive and the old-school Rennkompressor each have fold-up feet attached to their bases, which provide no support whatsoever to the free-standing bike pumps. Both companies designed their bases more with portability in mind than free-standing stability, but it is noticeable when operating them as well.
Several of the others we tested had only moderately passable scores in this area. Most of these utilized a lot of plastic in their bases, but perhaps the worst offender in this area is the Sigtuna. Its base uses a lightweight metal, but we found it to be relatively easy to bend the base out of shape when force is applied (especially unevenly, with more power on one foot than the other). Plastic isn't usually a main ingredient in our favorite bases, but sturdy plastic is better than light and bendy metal.
Ease of Attachment/Detachment
The easiest pump head to attach and detach from both Presta and Schrader valves in our tests was that of the Best Buy winner AerGun X-1000. Its straightforward and simple head design automatically accommodates either type of valve with no adjustment by the user…just push it onto either valve (after loosening the nut of course, if using Presta) and lock the lever in place. It's a shockingly easy process.
The heads of our Editor's Choice and Top Pick, ToPeak's JoeBlow Sport III and JoeBlow Booster respectively, also scored highly in this area. The best pump heads attached easily to either Presta or Schrader valves with little or no air leakage, and with locking levers that are easy to move.
Testers were not so crazy about designs with both Presta and Schrader valve holes on the same side; this design is clumsy to use, and lends itself to accidental air leakage when using Presta valves. Several of the tested pumps use variations of this design, and it's not unusable or unforgivable, but other options are highly preferable.
With beads of 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. All of the pumps we tested included built-in gauges, but all were equal. Height, color combination, print size, and construction materials are some of the important factors that can make the difference between a good gauge and a bad one (along with the accuracy of course, but we tested that as a separate metric, see below). Our testers' favorite gauges were both made by ToPeak, on the Editor's Choice JoeBlow Sport III and the Top Pick Joe Blow Booster. Large, clear, elevated gauges on both models are easy to read.
In both gauges, white numbers on a black background with a yellow needle seemed to "pop" and stand out for clear readability. The Sport III also features a handy chronograph dial that can be set at a desired pressure; even those with poorer eyesight can preset the dial and not worry about the numbers from there. The Best Buy AerGun X-1000's otherwise uninspiring gauge is salvaged somewhat by a similar presettable dial (one wouldn't even need such poor eyesight to struggle with the readings here).
The sleek and sexy Lezyne Steel Floor Drive has its gauge mounted on the front tripod leg and is fully encased in metal, thwarting lots of potential damage. It's on the ground and far away from the eyes, but the weight of it does help with the excellent stability. The bold black print against a polished metal background gave this gauge a quality appearance.
A few of our lowest scoring gauges were those of the Schwinn Air Center Plus (designed for extreme simplicity but lacking precision), the Sigtuna (large, but poorly designed, fragile, and confusing), the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive (designed for extreme portability but nearly illegible), and the Rennkompressor (accurate, precise, but too tiny to make out from any distance with its miniature grey-on-black print).
All the bike pumps in this test lack precision if you're running tubeless mountain bike tires. Because of the very low pressures used in these tires, often the lowest pressure readings on the gauges are where these tires are ridden; a separate low-pressure gauge would be nice for this purpose. The higher volume Schwinn and Bell models are reasonably good at lower pressures, but both suffer from other gauge and accuracy-related shortcomings, so it's difficult to recommend them for this purpose. Several of the companies making our more highly-rated pumps offer other high-volume, low-pressure mountain bike specific models as well.
When testing inflation speed, we counted the number of strokes that were used to reach a pre-determined pressure. We used mid-range pressures compatible with all the pumps we tested, and pumped tires from 20 PSI to 80 PSI. We also considered less quantifiable factors like the amount of strength used to push the handle across this range. Stability entered into this as well — if a pump can't stop wobbling, the whole process is going to take longer.
The overall top performers in this area were the Editor's Choice ToPeak JoeBlow Sport III, the fan favorite Lezyne Steel Floor Drive and surprisingly, the Sigtuna as well. The Sigtuna has several shortcomings, especially its stability and accuracy, which outweigh any time saved by cutting a stroke here or there. The ToPeak and Lezyne models, however, were both top performers across the board; the number of strokes for these was low, and the comfort and quality of those strokes were very high.
The higher volume pumps we tested naturally used the fewest pump strokes to reach desired pressures, as they push an enormous amount of air per handle thrust by design. The extremely high volume Bell Air Attack 650 and moderately high volume Schwinn Air Center Plus used 12 and 15 strokes respectively to pump a hybrid tire from 20-80 PSI, whereas the top performers listed above each used about 20. However, it was physically very challenging to reach that pressure utilizing either model, and both are rated to higher pressures. The quality of pump strokes was much lower, and both struggled to reach higher pressures, even relative to their reduced ranges. For exclusive use at very low pressures, these two would reign supreme regarding inflation speed.
During our testing, we had great success using the Booster and installed 29-inch, 27.5-inch, plus, and fat sized tubeless tires. Out of all the tires we seated, only one set (two 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 of shop mechanics 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 inflating tires, we would compare the pressure readings from pump gauges with a reading from our independent gauge (a humble pressure gauge from Pro Bike Tool) to see which seemed the most consistently accurate. We also conducted a more direct comparison, inflating different tires to 30 and 80 PSI with each pump (according to its gauge), then comparing the reading with our own gauge.
The most accurate model was the Editor's Choice ToPeak JoeBlow Sport III, the Best Buy AerGun X-1000, and the German-engineered SKS Rennkompressor. The JoeBlow's previous model was extremely accurate, and the supremely high-quality Rennkompressor is no shock, SKS has been attaching accurate gauges to well-made pumps for decades. We were more surprised to see the AerGun make it to the top of this list, with its rather dull and unexciting gauge, but numbers don't lie, and the AerGun's readings were right on the money. The gauge's visual design is not an indication of poor quality when it comes to actual pressure measurement.
Although previous tests and reviews had the Lezyne Steel Floor Drive as one of the top scorers in accuracy, our tests this time around showed it routinely off by about 5 PSI. We went with the numbers we saw and rated this otherwise fantastic model rather low in this category (although not the least accurate), but it didn't feel right. Based on the reputation and history of these pumps, we wonder if this problem is endemic to these pumps in general, or if we somehow got a dud.
Our three overall lowest-rated were also the most inaccurate. The Sigtuna and Bell suffered from similar issues to one another; both were frequently off by 10 PSI or more and would show different readings after detaching and reattaching the pump heads. The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive honestly may or may not be accurate; we'll get back to you as soon as we figure out how to read its gauge with any precision. Our testers felt they got a better idea of their tire pressure with an old-fashioned thumb-and-forefinger squeeze than by whatever approximation they could discern from this confusing gauge.
Alternatives to Floor Pumps
These are not nearly as convenient as floor models, but they are more compact, and some can be less expensive. If you only have one bike and limited storage, you may just want to have a hand pump. That said, they take about 10 times longer to inflate a tire, especially a larger mountain bike tire. See our Frame Pump Review.
These plug into an AC outlet or your car. If you have Presta tires, it can be a hassle to buy the right adapter. The upside is they will inflate just about anything: car tires, rafts, air mattresses, etc.
With so many contenders out there, you may find it difficult to choose the best bike pump 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. If you are still not sure, check out the Buying Advice for additional tips.
— Mark Schanzenbach