Over the last 8 years, we've bought and tested nearly 30 of the best bike pumps, with the top 11 in this review. We tested their stability, inflation speed, accuracy, gauge quality, and how easily they attach to a tire valve. We pumped up a lot of tires, counting strokes and checking pressures with a separate digital gauge. We tried these pumps on Schrader and Presta valves, high-pressure road bike tires, and high-volume mountain bike rubber. A good pump makes it easy to build a habit of routine bike maintenance and pre-ride safety checks. They're also the unsung hero of a truly great ride, helping you nail the balance between friction and efficiency. Read on to find out which pump will get you out the door and pedaling away as smoothly as possible.If you're in the market for a smaller pump to carry along on rides, check out our frame pump review. For all your other biking needs, check out our one-stop-shop for all things cycling. In the market for a new helmet or bike shorts? Our comprehensive reviews can help you find the best products to get out there on your favorite two wheels.
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|Pros||Inexpensive, stable, comfortable, auto select nozzle for Presta and Schrader valves||Excellent performance, universal nozzle, long hose, air bleed valve, easy to read gauge||Works great with high volume tires, stable, universal nozzle works with Presta and Schrader||Relatively affordable, accurate, secure connection, valve core tool and pressure relief valve||Efficient at high volumes, settings for road and MTB tires, double-sided nozzle|
|Cons||Nozzle can be tricky to use, no ball or bladder adapters||Expensive, heavy, hard work to fill chamber, gauge struggles at low pressures||Not so great with high-pressure tires, gauge is harder to read than some||Not meant for high volume tires, not the most precise or easiest gauge to read||More expensive, inaccurate above 30 PSI, tall for shorter users, no bleeder valve|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable pump with an auto selecting nozzle and low price tag||A high-quality and high priced model that replaces an air compressor to inflate tubeless tires||This high-value pump works exceptionally well with high volume tires and features a universal nozzle||A thoughtfully constructed, accurate pump that’s great for high pressure tires up to 220 PSI||The fastest pump for high volume mountain bike tires that we tested|
|Rating Categories||Bontrager Charger||Topeak JoeBlow Booster||Crankbrothers Sterling||Lezyne Sport Drive||Topeak JoeBlow Spor...|
|Ease of Attachment (25%)|
|Specs||Bontrager Charger||Topeak JoeBlow Booster||Crankbrothers Sterling||Lezyne Sport Drive||Topeak JoeBlow Spor...|
|High Volume or High Pressure||Both||High Pressure||Both||High Pressure||Both|
|Weight||3.1 lbs||7.5 lbs||2.7 lbs||3.3 lbs||4.8 lbs|
|Height||27 in||29 in||25 in||30 in||29.75 in|
|Hose Length||38 in||59 in||36 in||50 in||32 in|
|Accessory Inflators Included?||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Best Overall Bike Pump
Specialized Air Tool Pro
Accurate and effective, the Specialized Air Tool Pro makes filling your tires to the perfect pressure easier than any other pump in the test. Its large handle, smooth pumping action, and broad base plate keep you fairly comfortable while you work. Its reasonably readable gauge is precise enough (marking every 2 PSI) to help you nail your numbers. A bleeder valve in the handle itself helps you dial everything in — adding a little, bleeding a little away — without leaving the helm. Specialized's SwitchHitter II nozzle also automatically adjusts to either a Schrader or Presta valve. Though many of the pumps featured similar technology, we found this chuck more seamless than the rest. It's efficient, too, inflating our road tires faster than all but one other pump in the test (the Bontrager Charager discussed below).
The Air Tool Pro is just okay at inflating mountain bike tires (again beaten out by the Bontrager and the two MTB specialists listed below). It's also heavy and not as stable as we'd like it to be. It can easily tip forward, away from the gauge. This is annoying, and it happens because the base plate doesn't extend very far toward you when you're pumping, pulling you in closer to the pump to hold it down and making things less comfortable than they could be. Still, the combination of fast high-pressure inflation, excellent nozzle attachment skills, accuracy, and a useful bleeder valve was enough to outscore the competition.
Read review: Specialized Air Tool Pro
Best Bang for the Buck
Man, we love this pump, the less-expensive underdog that beats out glitzier competition for its pure utility. The Bontrager Charger is one of the best in the test at actually inflating tires, which is the point of all of this. Its nozzle is smart, accommodating both Schrader and Presta valves without adjustment, it's stable, has a comfortable handle, and its gauge is bright, precise, and accurate. But most importantly, it fills tires quickly. It beat out every other pump we tested when inflating our test road bike tire from 40 to 80 PSI. It was also faster than any pump without a dedicated high volume setting (we'll get into that below) in getting a mountain bike tire to 30 PSI.
Praise aside, that smart nozzle is more finicky than other similar options in this review. We struggled to get it to connect to valves more often, especially when the tire was flat and less of it was exposed above the rim. That said, with a little patience, the connection isn't that hard to make. That's a lot of positives and one rather important negative. If you can muster a little patience when your tire is totally flat, this pump is an excellent deal.
Read review: Bontrager Charger
Great Value for Mountain Bikers
Most of the pumps in this review do a pretty good job inflating high-pressure road tires. Only two really shine at high-volume mountain bike tires. This is the less expensive of the two. The Crankbrothers Sterling pump offers two modes: one that optimizes for pressure, the other for volume. You can switch back and forth using a foot pedal at the base. The high volume option takes our mountain bike tires from 10 PSI to 30 faster than every pump but the Topeak Sport 2Stage discussed below. And it keeps the volume manageable enough that it's not hard to compress (unlike the 2Stage).
In high-pressure mode, this pump required more compressions to fill our road bike tire than any other pump tested. And we don't love its white and blue gauge that's harder to read. It's marked every 5 PSI, but those small tick marks are harder to see, and it's a pretty rough measurement anyway. In our accuracy tests, it performed well, but we checked for round numbers: 30, 40, and 80 PSI. This gauge would make it hard to hit something like 32. That said, if you want an accurate pump that fills up your fat tires fast, with a universal nozzle that easily attaches to Presta or Schrader valves, we recommend this one.
Read review: Crankbrothers Sterling
Best for Seating Tubeless Tires
Topeak JoeBlow Booster
Tubeless tires require a sudden blast of air to seat the tire bead onto the rim. An air compressor will do the job, but so will the Topeak JoeBlow Booster. It works like a normal floor pump but has an additional high-pressure air chamber that can be charged (that is, filled) and released in much the same way as a noisy, corded, expensive air compressor. Just pump it up in Charge mode and rotate the rim of the gauge to Inflate. It works great and in seconds. The hardest part is getting the tire itself on the rim, and that's not the pump's fault. The gauge is crazy easy to read, and the nozzle works with both Schrader and Presta valves. It has a stable base with a 59-inch hose — giving you much more flexibility for inflating tires — and a pressure bleeding button on the nozzle and at the top of the hose.
The Booster works less well as an actual bike pump. It took more pumps to inflate a mountain bike tire than any other option in the test and was about average at filling a road tire. If you're a tubeless riding roadie, this will set you up perfectly (this is why it gets a lower inflation rating, despite performing beautifully as an air compressor.) You do have to work hard to get this pump up to its charge-ready pressure, though. Its nozzle is a bit more finicky than the best options, and it isn't as accurate at lower pressures, below 40 PSI or so. But if you ride tubeless tires, this pump will save you a ton of frustration and keep you out of the shop and on your wheels. So, is the Booster worth its hefty price tag? We think so.
Read review: Topeak JoeBlow Booster
Best for Fast High Volume Inflation
Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage
If you want to fill up mountain bike tires as fast as possible, reach for the Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage. It takes just eight strokes to bring a fat tire from 10 to 30 PSI. That's 100 to 375% fewer strokes than it takes the competition. Only the Crankbrothers Sterling comes close to that efficiency with 16 compressions. The 2Stage accomplishes this feat by providing two inflation modes, which it calls Stage 1 for high volume and Stage 2 for high pressure. It works a lot like the Sterling does, but the barrel is much bigger, so it fills the tires much faster.
This also makes the pump harder to compress, and it's tall, which can be a challenge for shorter riders. The high-pressure mode is less effective but only takes three more compressions than the fastest inflating pump. What is kind of a bummer is the gauge design. The first half of the gauge covers only 30 PSI, marking every pound of pressure. The second half runs from 30 to 160 PSI, only marking every 5 PSI. And those marks are very close together. It's not surprising that the gauge is very inaccurate above 30 PSI since it's hard to tell what the needle is pointing to. The double-sided gauge is also finicky with flat tires. If you can live with all that to get the efficiency this pump offers, we say go for it.
Read review: Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage
Why You Should Trust Us
Our head tester for this review is Clark Tate. Clark is a mountain biker and fair weather bike commuter who's been lucky enough to land in four singletrack meccas — Grand Junction and Durango, Colorado, Santa Cruz, and Lake Tahoe, California. She ran GearLab's mountain bike program for a while, is currently getting used to the trails in coastal Maine, and is considering turning to fat biking this winter. Clark also has a science background and, with a systematic and scientifically-trained mind, rigorous gear testing is a no-brainer.
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, measured weight and dimensions, and made user-based assessments of more subjective things like handle comfort and overall construction quality. We also asked friends and fellow bicycle enthusiasts to join in our testing rounds to balance our experts' perspectives on the best features for all experience levels.
Analysis and Test Results
Since we are sticklers for a good ride, we pump our tires to perfection almost every time we hit the road (or trail). We look for a simple, secure connection to the valve, a stable platform, and easy pumping. We also want an accurate gauge — which is not as simple as it sounds — when we take off on our ride. We want to know that our tires are inflated correctly to the exact pressure that we want.
To find the best pump for every user, we focused on what we think are the five most important attributes of a high-quality bike pump — how easy it is to attach to a tire, whether or not you can easily read the gauge, stability, inflation speed, and accuracy.
One of our primary goals during testing is to decide if a product's performance is worth its price tag. We also seek out products that will last because we know how satisfying it is to save money while investing in products that will do their job for a long time to come.
We tested some options that provide excellent performance at a stellar price point. For example, we're blown away by the Bontrager Charger, which earns the second-highest score with one of the lowest price tags in the test. It works best with high-pressure road tires, though. So we also highlighted the Crankbrothers Sterling, which does a better job of inflating high volume fat tires than all but one other, higher-priced option.
If you want a high-quality road bike pump with excellent accuracy and the type of good looks and well-considered construction that makes it a joy to use, check out the Lezyne Sport Drive. We feel like it will serve you well for a good long time, and it's one of the less expensive options in the review.
Ease of Attachment
Several pumps we tested this round have some version of a universal gauge that automatically adjusts to accommodate either a Presta or a Schrader valve. We love this concept. It lets you all but forget to look at which type of gauge your tire has. That said, not all of them worked equally well.
The Specialized Air Tool Pro and AerGun X-1000 were the best two examples of an automatically adjusting gauge. Both worked seamlessly without making us finesse the connection, even when our tires were especially low. The Topeak JoeBlow Booster also has this style of auto-adjust nozzle. It's a bit more finicky than the top two examples but only really gave us trouble when tires were flat. The version on the Bontrager Charger doesn't work nearly as well and is the pump's one big weak point.
The Lezyne Sport Drive gives us another stellar nozzle option. This one screws on, offering impeccable security once you've got it in place. It really shines when your tires are totally dead. Traditional, press-on nozzles can shove the valve back into the rim as you try to attach them. This style barely needs any real estate to make a solid connection and never shoves the valve down. It does take more time, and you have to unscrew the bright red chuck and flip it over to switch between Schrader and Presta valves, but we think it's worth it.
The rest of the pumps offered double-headed nozzles: one side working with Schrader valves, the other with Presta and sometimes Dunlop. Of these, the Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage works the best, with the Sport III and Max HP getting a bit trickier by degrees.
The Vibrelli chuck didn't work very well at all, and the SKS Rennkompressor has a longer nozzle face with a Schrader and a Presta opening stacked on top of one another. It's hard to line up and often challenging to seat correctly.
Though some of these pumps have shorter hoses, most notably the Vibrelli, AerGun, Specialized, and Crankbrothers, we never ran into a situation where they needed to be longer.
To test inflation speed, we counted the number of compressions it took each pump to inflate a mountain bike tire from 10 to 30 PSI and to take a road tire from 40 to 80 PSI. We also considered subjective factors, like how stable they were and how hard they were to pump.
There was less variation when we tested inflation on high-pressure road bike tires, and there's a much larger spread when it comes to inflating high-volume mountain bike tires. Of all the pumps, we were most impressed by the inflation speed of the Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage. It took just eight strokes on average to get a fat tire up to 30 PSI. The next best high-volume performer, the Crankbrothers Sterling, needed twice that amount, though the 2Stage is harder to pump. It has so much volume and height that it is physically more difficult to compress. You work for that speed.
The 2Stage also fared reasonably well in the high-pressure test, where the Sterling flagged. Both of these pumps offer two modes, one optimized to provide more volume and the other to provide more pressure. Simply flip a foot pedal on the Sterling or turn a knob on the 2Stage to flip back and forth.
The rest of the pumps were competing for top high-pressure inflation honors. Those go to the Bontrager Charger and Specialized Air Tool. Both are also the best of the non-adjustable options for inflating high-volume tires. They offer similar, comfortable stances and handles that are smooth and easy to use. Either is an excellent all-around option.
The Topeak JoeBlow Sport II and AerGun X-1000 are both good pumps, offering decent inflation rates for either road or mountain bike tires. The Lezyne Sport Drive and Topeak JoeBlow Max HP are high-pressure specialists, so we think a more dedicated road cyclist would appreciate them most. They will certainly still serve if you're a trail rider, though.
When used as a regular pump, the Topeak JoeBlow Booster also performs best with high-pressure road tires, perhaps because high pressure is sort of its main skill set. It takes a long time to fill up a mountain bike tire with this thing. When used to install tubeless tires, using a big burst of air to set the bead of the tire against the rim of the wheel, it works wonderfully. During our testing, we used it to install 29-inch, 27.5-inch, plus, and fat tubeless tires. We only ran into trouble twice.
Once, the tire bead was covering the valve hole, blocking the flow of air. That was an easy fix. The other time, a set of Continental Trail King 27.5 x 2.4-inch tubeless tires with very sturdy sidewalls refused to snap into place. We set them out in the sun and tried Windexing the tire bead and using a tube to seat one side. Then we gave up and tried an air compressor and a few shop mechanics. That didn't work either. We ended up riding them with a tube for a while and leaving them in a hot car to get the pesky sidewalls to settle down. Long story short, the JoeBlow Booster works great most of the time.
Inflating a bike tire can feel like a high-intensity interval workout. Our field tests sometimes looked like a CrossFit class 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 your pumping. Pump bases can take a beating. You need a sturdy one.
Pumps with well-balanced tripod bases are among our favorites, like the Bontrager Charger, Crankbrothers Sterling, Lezyne Sport Drive. These all stand upright when you step away and will deal with a few knocks. We also like that two of the base's legs tilt toward you, letting you stand further from the pump while securing it. The Specialized Air Tool has a similar base, but the front legs trend more to the side than the front, making it easy to knock over in that direction.
The benefits of tripod-style bases are especially apparent when pumping outdoors on less-than-level surfaces. Unstable pumps topple over easily when you're pumping on a grassy hillside covered in sticks and leaves.
Pumps with bases that extend out to either side are less dependable. If the wings are large and broad enough, the pump can still be quite reliable on flat ground. Often though, they tip forward or backward with little provocation. The behemoth JoeBlow Booster is an example of a stable, non-tripod pump. It's tall and heavy, with a large steel base that provides a solid foundation, measuring 10 inches across and about 4.5 inches front to back. There's no rubber or plastic protection under the metal base plate, so be careful when using this hefty pump on delicate surfaces.
The Topeak JoeBlow Sport III and Sport 2Stage feature smaller versions of this baseplate. They're oriented left to right with enough depth to create some front-to-back stability. You have to be a bit more careful around them. The Max HP and Vibrelli Performance are less stable still, and fall over with little provocation.
The SKS Rennkompressor prioritizes size over stability. It has foldable feet and an easily removable handle for travel. Those features make it challenging to use since it often falls over whenever you step away from it, even just to attach its nozzle to a tire. If you want your pump to last, go for a wide and hefty base plate with a gauge mounted low enough to hold extra weight low to the ground.
To test the accuracy of these pumps, we cross-referenced their pressure readings with an independent gauge (a Jaco dial version, proven to be highly accurate in our gauge test). We checked readings throughout the testing period and ran a dedicated accuracy test, pumping mountain bike tires to 30 PSI and road bike tires to 40 and 80 PSI. All the pumps get you in the ballpark, but some will require more tweaking than others if you're particular about your pressures.
The most accurate pump in this review is the Lezyne Sport Drive. It nailed the higher pressures in the test but overestimated the 30 PSI test by 2 pounds. Since it's meant for road tires, that's not a huge deal-breaker for us. The Specialized Air Tool Pro landed in second place, nailing the lower pressures but undershooting the 80 PSI mark by 2 pounds as well.
The AerGun X-100, Crankbrothers Sterling, and Bontrager Charger are all similarly accurate. Though the AerGun struggles more with the lower pressures (under by about 3 PSI) and the Bontrager with the higher ones (under by around 4). The Sterling struggled with the middle-of-the-road 40 PSI mark, oddly. The Joeblow Booster is a bit worse, over by a few pounds at both lower two pressure points, but nailing the 80 PSI marker.
The Topeak JoeBlow Sport III and Max HP were about 5 pounds under at higher pressures, and the Max HP wasn't great at low pressures either. From there, it just went downhill. The SKS and Vibrelli were unimpressive. We gotta say, though, the Topeak JoeBlow Sport 2Stage really disappointed us, holding it back in the scores. Its higher pressure readings (over 30 PSI) were just way off, probably because the second half of the gauge is hard to read(more on that below.)
Pumping up a bike tire can be a workout. With sweat stinging your eyes, it's no fun to bend over and squint to check the gauge. Height, color combination, print size, construction, and intervals are all important factors that can differentiate between a good gauge and a bad one.
We really like the Topeak Joe Blow Booster gauge. It's large, clear, and located at the top of the pump, making it very easy to read. It's marked at intervals of 5 PSI, which is less precise than we'd like, but pretty typical. It also has a sliding yellow marker to keep track of your desired pressure, as do the other Topeak options and the Aergun. It's a handy detail.
The Specialized Air Tool Pro gauge is big and marked at every 2 PSI with thin tick marks and at every 20 in large numbers. The Vibrelli and the Bontrager Charger also mark every 2 PSI. Of these, the Charger is another easy one to read. It's simple and bright white with largish black letters. The Vibrelli is smaller, packs its tick marks closer together, and tucks its numbers under the curve of the rim. Because of this, it doesn't score well.
The other Topeak pumps all read out at 5 PSI increments, as do the Lezyne and Crankbrother gauges. The JoeBlow Sport III is the best of this bunch, with a large gauge and PSI numbers printed clearly around the outside of the rim, free of the glare of the glass. The Max HP is a little smaller, the Lezyne Sport darker with smaller numbers, and the Crankbrother has smaller numbers and an eye-tiring blue and white color scheme.
Look for large gauges that are bright and clearly marked, with enough resolution to get the precision and accuracy you need.
Did you think a bike pump is just a bike pump? There is a ton of variability among these simple devices that are meant to fill your tires with air and read out their pressure levels. Their efficiency and accuracy vary greatly, and our side-by-side testing methods shake out the details. We hope this review has helped you find the best bike floor pump at the best value for your pedaling needs.
— Clark Tate
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