Best Frame Pumps of 2020
Topeak Road Morph G
With a folding foot pedal, a T handle, an extendable hose, and a pressure gauge, this pump reduces the need for a full-sized floor pump. When it comes to performance, the Road Morph G is leaps and bounds ahead of any other road-specific frame pump that we tested, and unlike other mini floor pumps that we have reviewed, the Road Morph G can be mounted on a frame. Although it is optimized for road, it also keeps up with the high volume mountain bike specific pumps while inflating 27.5" x 2.3" tires, which makes it a great option if you like to ride with a pump in your hydration pack.
When compared to other frame pumps on the market, the Road Morph G is on the larger, heavier side. It also takes up a water bottle cage spot on your frame. If you're the type of cyclist that counts every gram, or if giving up a water bottle cage is not ideal, then you may want to consider a smaller, lighter pump. For mountain bike use, the Lezyne Gauge Drive HV is a great option. If you're looking for a road bike specific frame pump, then check out the Lezyne Road Drive for something a little lighter.
Best For Road Bikes
Lezyne Road Drive
The Lezyne Road Drive has exceptional high-pressure performance. It can quickly take a tire to 90 psi and reached a high pressure in our 200 pump test. The Speed Flex ABS hose provides a secure leak-free connection and best in class ergonomics while pumping.
Other products provide more volume per stroke, but few are as easy to use at high pressure. The Road Drive is such a solid performer in high-pressure applications that it has become our go-to when we stuff our pockets for a long road ride.
Read review: Lezyne Road Drive
Best for Mountain Bikes
Lezyne Gauge Drive HV
When it comes to high volume inflating efficiency, the Lezyne Gauge Drive HV stands out. This option has some of the best pumping performance of any mini we have tested. The Pen Gauge ABS Flex Hose lets you see your real-time pressure.
Among the largest mini pumps we've tested, this isn't the best option to mount to your bottle cage bolts or shove in a jersey pocket. If you like riding with a full hydration pack though, this is a great pump to toss in it.
Read review: Lezyne Gauge Drive HV
Best Bang For The Buck
Topeak Peakini II
During our pumping test, the Topeak Peakini 2 outperformed all of the other mountain bike specific pumps, and it is one of the more affordable mini-pumps. The folding T handle, coupled with a larger volume cylinder makes inflating a tire on the side of the road or trail a simple task. With this pump, you'll spend less time fixing a flat so you and your group can spend more time riding, and at this price point, you'll still have a few bucks left over for a cold beverage and a snack after a good day of going hard in the dirt.
The main shortcoming of the Peakini 2 is that the pump head type is a standard style with a locking lever. This design is a bit outdated and harder to use than models with thread-on hoses. If you aren't careful, it could potentially damage or shear off a valve stem.
Read review: Topeak Peakini 2
Best for Doubling as Shock Pump
Birzman Velocity Apogee MTB
For those who want the versatility of a mini-pump and shock pump in one lightweight, low profile, and finished package, get the Birzman Velocity Apogee MTB. The Velocity Apogee MTB delivers decent pumping performance considering its small size. It can also inflate a suspension fork, a unique feature in the mini-pump segment. It also has a handy retractable hose and a threadless valve head, making it one of the easiest pumps to use that we tested.
The Velocity Apogee MTB could have a longer hose for less awkward pumping, and although it can inflate a suspension fork, it is not powerful enough to inflate a rear shock. It doesn't have a pressure gauge, so suspension pressure has to be set based on sag. Overall, the shock pumping capability of the Velocity Apogee MTB makes it a unique offering and our top choice for dual purpose inflation.
Read review: Birzman Velocity Apogee MTB
Analysis and Test Results
Frame pumps and mini pumps are your best friend when you need to inflate a tire while out on a ride. Frame specific products are well suited for road and cyclocross bikes and provide quick, efficient inflation due to their larger size.
There are a wide variety of minis. Some are designed to work well on high-pressure road tires. Others are designed specifically for mountain bike tires, which have higher volumes and need lower pressures. We break down the different options available below.
We know that buying a quality product at a great value is always the goal. That's why we consider the products' performance scores against their sticker price. The Peakini 2 does the best job of balancing price and performance.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Putting air in the tire in an efficient manner is critical. In general, products designed for mountain bikes don't work all that well for road bikes, because they are often unable to hit the target pressure. Road pumps will get a mountain tire up to pressure, but often require so many strokes that you might decide to walk home instead. The best pumps allow you to hit your target pressure quickly, with a minimal amount of strokes. Also, the effort required to achieve that pressure must be manageable.
Pump manufacturers often provide max pressure ratings for their pumps. We found that most pumps are incapable of reaching those claims because it gets too hard to compress them under high pressure. Also, when a pump cycles through several hundred compression cycles in rapid succession, heat builds up. As the chamber heats, the metal expands, decreasing the piston seal's effectiveness. This allows air to escape and reduces the volume of air per stroke. So the faster you pump, the more inefficient your pump will become. How well a design manages these factors determines how well it will perform for its intended purpose.
Our favorite mini pump for road applications is the Topeak Road Morph G. This impressive little pump was able to achieve 125 psi at only 125 strokes. Other products we tested were not able to achieve a higher pressure at 200 strokes, and with the other pumps, the effort to compress those pumps at the many strokes was substantially greater.
Our favorite mini pumps for mountain bike tires are the Topeak Peakini 2 and the Gauge Drive HV. Both pumps are fairly large, but they can move some air, particularly the Topeak Peakini 2. It hit 55 psi on a 27.5" x 2.3" mountain bike tire at just 200 strokes. For comparison, the Lezyne Gauge Drive was only at 37 psi after 300 strokes. Pumping effort per stroke remained relatively easy for both.
The Silca Impero is our favorite frame pump, hitting an impressive 103 psi at only 112 strokes in a 25cc road tire. Silica uses a leather piston that can better adapt to the micro changes in chamber diameter that occur with heat buildup. Due to this design, the loss of efficiency during pumping is minimal.
The Pro Bike Tool also scored well, with excellent all-around pumping performance. It hit 74 psi at 200 strokes on a road tire and 22 psi in a mountain tire at 300 strokes. We were impressed with its versatility. But it struggled to hit 90 psi in a road tire due to the increased pumping resistance at high pressure. It is hard to design a product that does everything well, but the Vibrelli Mini gets pretty close.
Ease of Use
Flat tires always seem to happen at the most inopportune times. We all have busy lives, and most of us try to make the most of our time by planning a ride that uses up nearly every minute of the available window. So when a flat occurs, we want equipment that is reliable and foolproof. Some products are easier to use than others.
We've found that pumps using a flexible hose and a thread-on valve attachment are the easiest to use. It takes a few extra seconds to deploy the flexible hose from the pump and thread the fitting onto the valve, but the interface provides a consistent leak-free connection while you pump.
The Lezyne Road Drive is the easiest to use mini-pump that we tested. Its Presta-only hose has a thread-on chuck at one end and a slip chuck at the other. The slip chuck is fast and offers a good seal in low-pressure applications. The Road Drive also has an ABS valve on the hose that allows you to bleed the pressure from the hose and release the Presta valve back to the closed position. This prevents air loss when unthreading the hose from the valve.
Another favorite is the Lezyne Micro Floor Digital Drive HVG. This mini-floor pump is a little more to carry, but it offers more comfortable pumping and more power than any other option tested.
The Silca Impero is the most straightforward frame pump to use. With its flexible silicone bumpers, it is by far the easiest to attach securely to a frame. The head is also easy to connect. It pushes on and does not rely on a lever to lock. Pumping is also easy with a smooth, consistent motion with a minimal increase in difficulty as pressure increases.
The Topeak Race Rocket HP is also a standout, with a flexible hose and air chuck system that allows the user to fill both Presta and Schrader valves with the same head. The Lezyne Race Rocket does not have an air bleed valve, so removing the pump from the tire valve is a bit more difficult than using the Road Drive from Lezyne. The Lezyne Gauge Drive is also a favorite product with pump connections that are similar to the aforementioned Road Drive. The Lezyne Gauge Drive stands out with an inline ABS pen gauge that allows the user to see tire pressure while pumping.
Looks and Design
We assessed all of the pumps in our review on looks and design. This is fairly subjective. If you are going to mount a frame pump on a high-end road bike, you would probably prefer one that does not detract from the beauty of your bike. Beyond that, unless you intend to mount a mini to your bottle cage bolts, the pump will be stowed in a jersey pocket or hydration pack.
The design of the pump is a big deal though, and to rate it, we look at things such as the material used for its body and handle. The more metal, the better. Frame and mini pumps see a lot of abuse as they are often exposed to the elements for extended periods and only see action occasionally. We also prefer the flexible hose valve connections over a fixed air chuck at the head of the pump body. The flexible hose makes the pumping process more manageable because the user does not have to worry about putting leverage on the valve stem during inflation. Most hoses make the valve connection via a threaded chuck — this design feature provides the most secure leak-proof valve connection.
The best-designed pump we tested is the Lezyne Road Drive. Design highlights include an aluminum body and the ABS Speed Flex hose for a reliable valve interface. The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive, Birzman Velocity Apogee, and Blackburn CO2'Fer Mini also score well for their performance and innovative features. The Road Morph G serves as a mini-floor pump, the Birzman doubles as a front suspension pump and the Blackburn offers optional CO2 canister compatibility.
A close runnerup is the Silca Impero. The Impero features all-metal construction with silicone bumpers on both ends that create a secure interface with the bike frame and also protect the paint. The dual seal push on the head provides a robust leak-free interface with the valve. In addition, Silica uses a leather gasket to improve inflation performance and accommodate for heat buildup.
The Pro Bike Tool features a design similar to the Lezyne Road Drive; we rank it lower due to its lack of a locking mechanism for the handle. During testing, the handle would frequently extend on bumpy roads — not the end of the world, but annoying. The Lezyne Gauge Drive HV had a similar issue, but being a mountain bike specific pump, we mostly carried it in a hydration pack which would prevent it from extending.
When it comes to mini pumps, size, and weight matter. Whether you are riding on the asphalt or the dirt, a compact portable pump is essentially a requirement. You will either be throwing this tool in a hydration pack, strapping it to your frame, or sticking it in your jersey so considering the shape is key as well. If you're looking for a pump for a road bike, we recommend getting a model that delivers high pressure which likely means a lengthier model. For MTB applications, a pump cylinder with greater volume will help you get back to slashing some brown pow faster. It might seem like a pain to carry a larger pump, but when you need it we feel as though the extra bit of space it might take up and a few extra grams are worth it.
That said, the highest-scoring mini we tested is the Topeak Race Rocket HP. It is the shortest product we tested at 18.5cm, and also the lightest at 87g. The Race Rocket simply disappears in a jersey pocket. The Lezyne Road Drive scores lower due to its increased length at 23.5cm. However, the Topeak Road Morph G mounts on a frame despite its large size. Striking a balance between portability and capability, the Velocity Apogee MTB is only 17.75 cm and weighs 136 grams, but can inflate both tires and suspension forks, a very handy feature.
Our favorite frame pump is the Silca Impero. While it is heavier than the other frame pumps we tested, it has by far the most secure fit on a wide variety of frames. The silicone end bumpers are very malleable and flex to accommodate a wide variety of tubing shapes. Even on the roughest roads we never had an issue with dislodging the Impero. We acknowledge that weight is essential, but feel the optimal security provided by the Impero outweighs the increased weight.
Ideally, you will never have to use a frame pump, but if you need to use yours, you want the peace of mind that it's going to actually work when you need it. Inherently, a piece of equipment with moving parts will wear out over time, so we were sure to put a true beating on these products to ensure that we put more wear and tear on them than the average cyclist. However, when it comes down to it, the elements and exposure are what cause a frame pump to break down — not use.
The biggest problem that we saw over our six-month test period is that some of the air chucks began to deteriorate. When exposed to the elements for long periods of time, the rubber seals will inevitably dry out and crack. For this reason, our highest scoring products are the Lezyne and Topeak pumps. Their flexible, stowable hoses put less direct pressure on the air chucks.
The Pro Bike Tool is also a good choice. It uses the same stowable hose design as the Lezyne Road Drive with the addition of an inline pen gauge. Scoring slightly lower is the Lezyne Gauge Drive HV, as the hose attachment threads on the pump body are plastic. The other Lezyne products we tested use metal. Plastic melts, and the friction created by this pump can get it hot enough to cause permanent damage. That said, we do like that the hose gets stored within the pump body — it's best to keep this important component out of the elements.
Other favorite pumps include the Silca Impero and Silca Pocket Impero. Silica pumps feature a leather piston that is known to be one of the longest-lasting, most reliable designs available. Many of our testers have 20-year-old Pista floor pumps that are still in working order with the same leather piston design. Also, Silica uses a brass check valve in the head that is widely regarded as one of the most reliable designs available. What we don't like in regards to the Silica pump is the exposed nature of the head seals that are not protected from the elements when stowed on a bike.
A proper functioning frame pump can truly make or break a day of cycling. Nothing is worse than walking your bike down the trail after a rewarding climb or having to hitchhike home or call for a ride on a big road ride. We hope that our comprehensive review will help you get back on the road or on the trail and continue with your awesome day in the event of a flat. Happy pedaling!
— Curtis Smith, Kurt Gensheimer, and Ross Patton