How To: Choose a Mountain bike Pump

Ideally, every cyclist should have at least two pumps: a floor pump for home use and a hand pump to take on rides. Mountain bike tires will be most easily inflated with a high-volume pump, which are available in both floor and hand versions.

High volume pumps usually deliver a maximum pressure of around 80 PSI, making them unsuitable for use on road bikes, but they will rapidly inflate mountain tires. For seating tubeless tires, high-volume floor pumps are a must. The best way to seat tubeless tires, besides using an air compressor, is with a floor pump with a secondary compression chamber. The chamber is filled with a large volume of air at high pressure, then rapidly released into the tire.

Mountain bike floor pumps and hand pumps are usually indicated by “high-volume” in their product name.  Getting a floor pump with a gauge is recommended.

Almost all mountain bike hand pumps will accept both presta and schrader valves, most without alteration. Some pumps require re-orienting two small parts in the pump head to switch between valve types, which is very easy to do.

There are two types of attachment: hose and direct. Direct attachment pumps push onto the valve stem. Most direct pumps seal onto the valve by activating a lever. These pumps attach quickly, but can bend presta valves easily if you don’t keep the pump from wiggling. Hold the pump head solidly against the rim with one hand, and pump with the other.

Pumps with a hose attachment are easier to use and more forgiving, but can still damage the valve if you are careless. They also take a little more time to set up. Hose pumps attach by threading one end of the hose onto the valve, while the pump end may be permanently attached to the pump or require threading into the pump as well.

Since there is flex in the hose, hose pumps don’t demand the same level of stability as direct attachment pumps do. However, care should still be taken to keep the hose in-line with the valve as much as possible.

Art’s Cyclery has a wide selection of high-volume mountain bike hand and floor pumps, so come on by, and find the one that’s right for you.