As a kid, I was always careful to color inside the lines. I cringed every time I saw another classmate unceremoniously tear the wrapping off a new crayon and Hulk-smash the perfect point into their coloring book. There I sat, watching the hurricane motion of their arm, seemingly trying to fend off some invisible force. I glance away from their battlefield of a coloring book and back onto my own paper as I carefully maneuver the crayon inside the bold lines. My desire for visual perfection carried over into my adult years, and I find myself drawn to well-crafted decorations and products. Brushed metal surfaces, titanium, and carbon fiber trinkets line the walls and bookshelves in my apartment.
I also developed an appreciation for technology and precise mechanical components during my job as a bike mechanic. The first time I went on a ride with the guys here at ARB, I had to top off my tires. When I grabbed the pump, I noticed an attachment on the end of a Lezyne pump that I had not seen before. I was already a huge fan of Lezyne’s twist-on pump heads over the cheap plastic, lift-to-lock type pumps. But then I realized this pump head simply pressed onto your valve. That’s it. It doesn’t need turning, it doesn’t need tightening, and it doesn’t fall off. My mind was blown.
As I looked into other products that this company made, I instantly fell in love with what they were doing.
This is the product that got me hooked. Silca’s Presta Head is beautifully made. It’s manufactured with 17-4 stainless steel and the beautiful finish is all thanks to their diamond tooling. This particular version is the newest. The new gasket slips onto the valve stem with a positive and satisfying ‘click’, while unique internal geometry actually utilizes line air pressure to compress the gasket onto the valve stem: the higher you pump, the harder it grips the stem! As a mechanic, I can say that not only does this save time, it’s immensely satisfying and can possibly be made to work with your current non-Silca pump.
Moving on to another product of theirs, you realize that they put a lot of attention into the details. The Eolo III cartridges ship with a cartridge helmet so you don’t accidentally puncture the cartridge as it’s rattling around in your saddle pack. Not only that, but you can customize the insulator rings! Many of you may scoff at that, but that’s not even the selling point of the product. The real benefit is, first, the threaded valve head fits both presta and schrader. More importantly, the spring mechanism allows you to accurately release the amount of air that you want. No fiddling with those terrible plastic triggers that other cartridge pumps have!
Mini pumps have always been one of those things where you buy one because you feel like it’s a good idea to be prepared. But 200 pumps later, your tube still seems to be about 30 PSI. It doesn’t help that most pumps get slippery as the sweat from your hands make it increasingly difficult to grip. Again, Silca seems to have covered all the stops with the Pocket Impero. There is a rubber grip built in so it doesn’t slip, it feels very solid and doesn’t feel like it will warp as you reach high pressure. It also has a very nifty locking feature that keeps the pump from extending on its own. While I generally don’t like using mini pumps, I would definitely recommend picking this particular one up if you insist on going with the small form factor.
For those of you looking to spend a little less time on the side of the road pumping away, these is another option for you. Meet the Pocket Impero’s big brother, the Impero Ultimate. Many of the classic vintage bikes looked amazing with frame pumps. There was a specific pump peg for them to press against, and often, they were painted to match the frame color. Initially, the thought of putting a frame pump on a modern carbon bike didn’t seem like it would work. The shapes of the frames and the size of the tubing would make the frame look out of place. Right? Well, I’ll let you decide for yourself after you take a look at the picture.
I’ve saved the best for last, but I’d like to start off by saying that I don’t possess the vocabulary to describe the craftsmanship on this pump. Is it more pump than most people would need? Well, the answer to that depends on whether or not you want something you can enjoy forever and use as an art piece. The attention to detail on this pump is stunning. The pump head is magnetic and snaps down satisfyingly to the base of the pump. It operates so smoothly, and is equipped with the Presta head mentioned earlier in this post. The base of the pump is even optimized for cycling cleats! I won’t give away all the features, as it’s best for you to come into our shop and take a look for yourself.
As a bonus, I would like to mention their HX-One Allen Key set. There’s something about magnets snapping pieces together that is ridiculously satisfying. These allen keys transform to a multitude of additional tools thanks to the magnetic adapter that they include. While we’re on the topic of magnets, the box also snaps shut thanks to a little magnet embedded in the wood. Everything is manufactured to very high standards, and the little touches such as the non-slip surface really make this set extraordinary to use. If you’re looking for a tool set that you will cherish, this is the one. You’ll be finding things to loosen and re-tighten just as an excuse to use these tools an extra time!