What the Hey, I Added a Pump

Guest poster Don Blount makes what, for him, is a major concession.

I finally settled my personal pump vs CO2 debate.

When I first began riding, I went weeks without carrying anything – a pump, CO2, patches or tire levers. I was just lucky, because I didn’t have a flat during this period. I was dumb too. Now, I wouldn’t go anywhere without the basic tire changing implements.

Shortly after I had those tools, I flatted on a hot summer day. It took me more than 20 minutes to change that flat and get the bike rolling again. On that hot summer day, it seemed like forever.

I have had more than my share of flats since and have become proficient at changing them although I’m not as fast as this guy. It takes me about 10 minutes total time to get the flat changed and the bike rolling again. And note that the guy in the video changes the flat in no time but doesn’t look for the cause of the flat.

CO2 is one of the things that I use when changing flats. I like the speed and also the convenience in part because my many of weekday rides come before work when a flat not only cuts my ride short but also shortens my preparation time to get ready for work or another appointment. The faster I change the tire the more likely I am to get to my next stop on time.

Mishaps are of course nerve wracking.

Last October while my wife was out of town I was returning home from a ride. My plan was get a quick shower and change and pick up my then three-year-old daughter at her preschool. I was on schedule, but about a mile from home I flatted.

Hurricane HPV Dual Mini (this is the old pump)

I changed the tube, took out a CO2 cartridge, pushed the nozzle and pssssst, it was a dud. I had two more cartridges. I kept getting a bubble in the tube and bam! overinflated the tube causing it to pop. I had one more tube and one more cartridge. No pump. I had stopped carrying a pump thinking that the CO2 would replace it. Quite frankly I never liked the pump, the few times I had used it, it didn’t work well, in addition to being bulky I wasn’t able to get much air in the tire.

I was already thinking of how long it would take me to push my bike to my daughter’s school in full riding gear.

I got the second tube inflated, mushy but rideable and picked my daughter up on time.

Common sense should’ve told me to look for another pump. Instead I worked on becoming more proficient at using CO2.

For that matter I didn’t think much about adding a pump until a few months ago when I came across that photo of George Hincapie’s training bike and saw that he was carrying a pump.

If one of the world’s top racers had one on his bike, why wouldn’t a recreational roadie? I’m not racing, I’m not hammering and a few extra grams of weight isn’t going to cost me anything.

Blackburn Airstik 2Stage (this is the new pump)

I decided that I should carry a pump, but it had to be the right one – small, affordable and effective. I ended up buying a Blackburn AirStik 2Stage, the one Hincapie was carrying. It is small enough to fit in a jersey pocket, although I mounted it on my bike. And it can get a tire up to riding pressure in about 200 pumps, that was about 90-100 psi. (I tested it.) And the $22 cost, including shipping, was within my budget.

I still carry CO2 and intend to use it as my primary method of inflating flats, especially when I’m short on time. However, having a pump on board provides me with a backup if there is a problem or as an alternative inflation method for those times when I have time.

SPECS Hurricane Blackburn
Length 267 mm 170 mm
MAX. PSI 100 160
Weight 185 g 84g

Don advises that the Maximum PSI figure for the Blackburn may be a little misleading. It can pump 160 psi “only if you’re Hercules,” he says.


  1. mildstallion says

    As a long time frame pump user, I applaud your inflation choice. Nice that you point out that if it’s good enough for George, it’s good enough for us Freds.

    Also, that 160 psi if you’re Hercules is irrelevant. Unless you are very heavy, you can easily make it home on 90-95 psi. High pressures are overrated. I’ll let others look it up, but there has been research done to show that lower pressure doesn’t necessarily mean lower rolling resistance. Most people ride too high a pressure, it seems.

  2. oldguy says

    I’ve always carried a pump. Never trusted CO2 and I’ve never had trouble getting my tires up to 120 and a change.

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