CO2 cartridges or a pump? I’ve decided.

After my fumbling experience with a flat tire last month, I decided to rethink my practice of carrying CO2 cartridges for dealing with flats on the road. I still think the cartridges are a neat solution to the space and weight challenge bikers face. But I’ve never felt that they worked the way they’re supposed to — that the tire inflated as much as it needed to (Yes, I know — it’s not the tool, it’s the carpenter). So I decided to go in the other direction. I bought a mini pump.

Actually, it’s kind of a hybrid between a frame mounted pump and a mini pump. It’s a Topeak Road Morph. And sharp-eyed readers will recognize that it’s not exactly new. On my first ride carrying the pump, it was the indirect cause of my fall.

The switch to the pump was not without some adjustments. Fall aside, I had to deal with two other problems: mounting it to the frame and a quality deficiency.

The Road Morph is not really a mini-pump, which some riders carry in their jersey pockets. It’s a little too big for that. So it must be mounted on the frame. Topeak gives the owner two options for that: fastening it to the top tube with zip ties, or attaching to the seat tube using the water bottle braze-ons.

I opted to zip tie it to the top tube. That turned out not to be the best solution, at least for me. The zip ties kept catching on the inside of my thighs when I dismounted, even after trimming the ties back as far as possible. I was concerned they would tear my riding shorts. Then, the hose popped out of its cradle when I rode on a rough stretch of road.

The second deficiency was a quality issue. The bezel that attaches to the tire valve was missing. It’s not an obvious thing, because the end of the hose looks pretty normal even without it. I didn’t discover it was missing until the morning of my century, when I had to scramble to find a floor pump to top off my tires. I rode the century with the pump zip tied to the frame, but pulled it off as soon as I got home after the ride.

pumpThe LBS was happy to exchange the pump for a new one — one that had the bezel. I decided I didn’t like the zip tie attachment, so I took off one of the water bottle brackets and mounted the pump there. Now it not only works the way it’s supposed to — it looks better, too. I think.

Yeah, I know, I’m down to one water bottle per ride now. Not a problem. One bottle is good for about 20 miles for me, and when I run low, I look for a gas station or some other place where I can fill it up. Since I’m not planning on riding another century anytime soon, I can get along fine with one bottle. And if I really need a second one, I can put it in one of my jersey pockets.

So far, I’m happy with my decision. The little pump has several features that make it act like the big guys. It has a little flange that flips out so you can hold it under your foot, just like a floor pump. Its handle can flip sideways to resemble a t-shaped handle for pumping. It even has a rudimentary pressure gauge.

I have yet to try the pump under battlefield conditions. It’s only been used to pump up some spare tubes in my garage. But it worked just fine on them, got them to full pressure without a hassle, and when my next flat comes (knock wood) I’ll be ready.

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10 thoughts on “CO2 cartridges or a pump? I’ve decided.

  1. I know where you’re coming from on this one! I carry C02 on my road bike…and I have a pump on my mountain bike and touring bike. The CO2 almost bit me in the butt once…but I was lucky enough to have another rider around that had a couple more cartridges.

    Pumps are nice…but I hate the bulk. The weight doesn’t really bother me I just hate having them attached to my frame…for me they take away the aesthetics of the bike. Maybe I’m vain (I’m vain) but I like clean lines and such! So…I carry CO2 on my road bike and I have pumps on my mountain bike and touring bike…both of which I feel are more utilitarian…so looks don’t matter as much :)

  2. I have a similar pump, without the hose and flip-out foot thing. And I mount it using the water bottle cages too, but I was able to put a water bottle cage on top of the pump bracket. End result: I have both. You might try it, maybe it will work in your case as well.

    I wouldn’t be comfortable with one water bottle. In fact, I bought a bike that can hold 3! Not just for that reason, but I do a lot of riding in areas where water isn’t easy to find. It was a definite plus.

  3. I have the original version of that pump(it was called the “Comp”, in 2001). It has served me well for many years and countless flat fixes.

    I mount mine behind the seat tube, using the hook and loop (Velcro) mount that Topeak used, back in the day.

  4. I love the Morph line – had a Mountain which was stolen (along with the bike it was on) and now a Road. I strap mine to the non-driveside chainstay because I have almost always been in places where I have to carry my bikes a far enough distance that I put them on my shoulder. Putting the pump on the chainstay keeps the brazeons open for other things and keeps the pump out of my way. Also, I usually strap the hose down with the hook/loop strap that holds the pump into the holder, just to make sure.

  5. I just wanted to join in on the Topeak Morph love. Mine has saved me so many times. My road bike has a curved top tube and I needed both my water bottle cages so attached my road morph to the down tube just right of the water bottle cage. I had to thread the zip-ties through the water bottle cage to keep it from slipping down.

  6. Pingback: CO2 cartridges or a pump? « Bike Noob

  7. Pingback: Pumps vs. CO2 — something new « Bike Noob

  8. You and I are so alike – I just wrote on my blog about yesterday’s unsupported century ride experience involving CO2. I am so with you, I am a pump guy after all.

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