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.
The 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.