Cyclocross Magazine’s Holiday Gift Guide 2013: Part 1

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The Gift to Prevent the Dreaded “Pick Me Up” Phone Call: Not-So-Mini-Pumps

We hate mini-pumps. We hate to use them, and if we’re using them, it usually means we’re pissed off because we flatted. But they’re an unnecessary evil, and can be awesome gifts because:

    • They can prevent you from having to pick up a cyclocrosser with a flat tire.
    • Since most of us hate mini-pumps, we have a hard time justifying spending more than the minimum on them.

Blackburn and Lezyne have two mini-pumps we’ve come to love because they both try hard to not act like mini pumps.

Blackburn AirStik Longneck 2Stage Mini-Pump

A mini-pump in denial: the Blackburn AirStik Longneck 2Stage mini pump with handle and hose. © Cyclocross Magazine

A mini-pump in denial: the Blackburn AirStik Longneck 2Stage mini pump with handle and hose. © Cyclocross Magazine

Blackburn designed the ultimate mini-pump in the form of the $39.99, 152 gram AirStik Longneck 2Stage Mini-Pump. It’s small, but when you need it, this pump is a giant. The nine-inch mini-pump converts into a small floor pump, with a foldout T-handle, an extension hose, and a mini foot peg makes repairing a flat quick work. Have a high volume tire? Use the low setting for faster inflation. Need rock hard road tires for some reason? Switch to the high mode for easier pumping.

We love the fact that the hose prevents a lot of stress from pumping being put on the valve of your tube or tire, and thus you avoid a lot of broken or torn valves. The pressure switch is handy, but we kept it on low for higher volume, low pressure cyclocross tires.

The valve converts from presta to shrader by flipping the internals, but it’s not the quickest change if you routinely have to pump both types of valves. Our pump developed a small crack in the plastic near where the valve attaches to the pump when not in use, but it was purely cosmetic and did not affect function. If we cared, we could have gotten a replacement from Blackburn, with their famous lifetime warranty.

It’s a bit long for a standard jersey pocket, but never popped out of ours and saved our butts a few times. The Airstik Longneck 2Stage mini-pump also comes with a bottle cage mount, but don’t use it until cyclocross season is over, as it’ll get in the way when shouldering the bike.

If you insist on the smallest pump possible, we’ve also had decent luck with the diminutive Airstik SL mini pump for two years before it gave out. It’s tiny, and does the job faster than other pumps its size, but pumping becomes a workout.

More info: http://www.blackburndesign.com

 

Lezyne Alloy Drive Mini-Pump

Lezyne Alloy Drive: Small yet high volume, with a hose. © Cyclocross Magazine

Lezyne Alloy Drive: Small yet high volume, with a hose. © Cyclocross Magazine

The $45 Lezyne Alloy Drive mini-pump is a work of art. Its alloy, CNC construction offers precision and durability not typically found on small, plastic mini-pumps. There’s no play in the pump stroke. It’s solid.

That’s a good thing for a mini-pump that costs as much as many floor pumps, but that’s also why the Lezyne Alloy Drive mini pump might be the ultimate gift for a cyclocrosser. It’ll save his butt and get him home again and again, and over the years, every time he’ll use it, he’ll think of you (and hopefully thank you).

Besides the alloy construction, the Lezyne Alloy Drive mini-pump has a lot of other things going for it. For one, housed in one end is a hose that works with presta and shrader valves and can switch between the two just by reversing the side of the hose that is attached to the pump. Just as with the Blackburn, the hose prevents you from ripping your presta valve from all the stress from your furious pumping.

The Lezyne Alloy Drive also excels because it pushes a high volume of air, due to its large bore. It will pump up to 90 psi, which should be plenty for many road riders (Lezyne makes many high pressure road options), but works perfectly for the lower pressures and higher volumes of cyclocross and mountain bike tires.

It actually comes in two lengths, a small 170mm unit that we tested, and a medium 216mm unit for faster pumping. The small is plenty big enough for cyclocrossers. It also comes in three anodized colors, and black. Grab a shiny one to put underneath (or hang on) the tree.

More info: lezyne.com

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