Gear Guy

Park PFP 2     Photo: courtesy, Nashbar.com

Q:

Can you help me find a tough floor bike pump?

I'm looking for a decent floor pump for bikes, one that'll last for more than one season. Any ideas? Kate Hollywood, Florida

A:Well, quite a few of them should. The proverbial cast-iron skillet of floor bike pumps has long been the Silca Super Pista, still made with an anachronistic and comfortable wooden handle. Its gauge reads to 200 pounds (that would make for a harsh ride!) and it now has a reversible Schrader/Presta head. A friend of mine has been pumping his tires with a Silca pump for 20-odd years, and just a month ago had to buy a replacement hose when it ruptured. The pump itself, though, is completely stock.

I'm partial to Blackburn pumps, myself. Currently I'm using the TP-5 ($100; www.blackburndesign.com), an incredibly powerful, ruggedly built pump. It has an interesting two-stage design that inflates very flat tires to 30 to 40 pounds in just a few strokes, then by pushing a button atop the pump you switch to high-pressure mode for getting road tires above 100 psi. True, that complexity increases the chance of breakdown. And I've had some problems with the Blackburn reversible head wearing down and no longer gripping the valve (especially those on Michelin tubes), but it's a part that's easily replaced.

One other pump that I haven't used, but that looks very well made, is the Park PFP-2 pump (available from online dealers like Nashbar for $65; www.nashbar.com). It has a rugged metal housing, and an alloy head that I would guess is more durable than the plastic one on my Blackburn pump.

More essential biking goods can be found in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.

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