Last Updated on September 30, 2021
Mini pumps are essential gear for mountain bikers, or among cyclists in general. These are very important because they can inflate your flat tire whenever or wherever you are.
They are very portable because of their slim and lightweight design. This makes them very handy to bring with you inside your backpack, belt bag, or even have it mounted on your bike frame.
But with the many mini pumps out there, it’s surely confusing to choose which one is best for you.
This article helps you with just that because we’ll help you choose the right mini pump by providing the things you need to consider.
What is a mini pump?
A mini pump is a portable bike pump that is designed to be brought to different places. These are smaller and lighter compared to ordinary bike pumps that measure 1 foot to 2 feet in length or even more.
These are the go-to pump of many cross-country and enduro riders because they ensure that bikers can continue their ride even if they get a flat. Simply get it out of your bag even if you’re in the middle of nowhere, and use it to pump air directly to your deflated tires.
However, these require more time and effort to pump a deflated tire because of their small size. You need to pump two or three times more effort and time compared to the bigger bike floor pumps.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Mini Pump
The first thing you should consider when choosing a mini pump is the pressure you need. Cross-country or road cyclists need higher PSI on their tires. This is around 60 to even 90 PSI.
If you are one of these folks, then you need to get a bike pump that can reach these high pressure readings. But if you are an enduro or downhill rider, then you can just settle for the ones that have a maximum PSI of 40 to 50 PSI.
Take note that the average tire PSI of enduro and downhill cyclists is 20 to 30 PSI.
Take note of the volume. High volume pumps mean that they can pump air to your tires faster. This requires less effort from you because a few pumping motions can bring in lots of air into the tires.
Mountain bike tires require higher volume and lower PSI. So, it’s best to choose bike pumps that offer more volume than PSI.
Gauge accuracy is a very important thing to consider because this tells you the exact air pressure or PSI of your tire. Most mini pumps for mountain bikes have an analog gauge. Make sure that the numbers are easy to read.
Bike pump accuracy is also important when it comes to safety. An inaccurate gauge on a bike pump can lead to a blown-out tire because you still force air into it even if it’s already in its maximum PSI capacity. You surely don’t want that to happen to you, right?
Size is another important consideration to make. You want a portable bike pump that can fit inside your backpack or belt bag, unlike a floor pump.
The bike pump shouldn’t just fit, but it should fit comfortably. This means that there should still be enough space for more things to avoid cluttering. The average length of a mini bike pump is 5 inches to 12 inches. Meanwhile, the width is around 0.5 inches to 1 inch.
A mini bike pump should be as lightweight as possible so it won’t bother you if you’re riding steep uphills. They should be very portable and have a slim profile.
An expensive mini bike pump is made with lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber. These are your best bet if you’ve got the budget and want the best choice there is.
But you can go for the cheaper plastic mini bike pump if you’re short of budget. Anyways, the weight difference just hovers around a few grams.
The construction of the mini bike pump should be as durable and solid as possible. What usually happens is that expensive pumps have more metal materials in them.
This makes the pump more durable and ready to take on a beating. Plastic pumps can feasibly flex under rugged and heavy use.
These then cause the gauge to become less accurate and eventually fail. Meanwhile, a metal mini bike pump is more solid and can get a good beating without having any damages even if the schrader valves or valve stem of your wheels have scratches.
Serviceability is more about the expensive mini bike pumps which are considered as long-term investments.
If you are choosing premium mini bike pumps, then it’s best that you get one that comes with spare parts to ensure long-term use. The most common spare parts provided are valve and head gaskets as they can leak over time.
Different Types of Bike Pumps
Hand pumps are also known as mini pumps. They are the smallest type of pump and also the most portable. They are a must-have if you are going on cross-country epic rides so that you don’t have to worry about flat tires.
Yes, they might be portable and handy which is why they’re also called a frame pump. But this comes at a price. And that is air volume. You have to exert more effort and spend more time inflating your tire with the pump, as compared to the bigger but heavier floor pumps.
Track pumps are also known as floor pump because you step on their legs when you pump air into your tires. But a floor pump is very big and heavy, even reaching a length of 1 meter or more. These have large air volume and PSI pressure gauge with a flexible hose, as well as a large chamber for fast air transfer.
CO2 canisters are an essential gear to have if you are more on the competitive side of the sport. These are must-haves for racing because you simply just pull out the canister, open it, and then connect its flexible hose pump head directly to your tire’s valves.
The tire then inflates back in just a matter of seconds. A 16-gram CO2 canister can inflate a regular mountain bike tire to a maximum of 100 PSI.
However, the tire will deflate in a matter of hours, just in time for you to finish the race or reach your destination. Nonetheless, these are very handy and convenient.
Choosing the right mini pump is important to complement your riding style and preferences. Get one that is durable, features the right volume and PSI stats, and of course, the right brand and aesthetics.
When you do, then no one can surely stop you from riding wherever or whenever you like.