Pump it up
Proflate 16SE Special Edition
Being stranded on the road with a flat tire is a cyclist’s worst nightmare. Without a means of repair, they may be forced to walk—or worse yet—ride in a car! To repair a flat, or just keep your tires pumped, you’re going to need a reliable bike pump and the Proflate 16SE is one of the most efficient and compact options available. Weighing in at approximately two ounces, the Proflate uses a trigger to control the flow of carbon dioxide, which is stored in a canister buried in the handle. Inflating the tire is easy and takes seconds once the Proflate is connected, but getting it on can be difficult. Screwing on the nozzle requires continuously pressing the safety latch and turning the whole device, so finding a solid connection during the first few rotations is tough. The major downside is you don’t know how much CO2 you have left in the tank. A safety mechanism locks the canister in place until it’s completely empty, so it’s either all or nothing. Nowhere in the instructions does it warn against using the Proflate with a needle to inflate sports equipment, but when our needle shot across the room threateningly, it became apparent it wasn’t the best idea. Depending on how many you buy at a time, new canisters will run between $2 and $4 each. As a bonus, a portion of sales from the Proflate 16 Special Edition, which retails at $25.99, is donated to breast cancer research. There is a regular Proflate 16 for $25.49, but that model is reserved for people who want to save $0.50 because they love cancer and hate boobs.
AirStomper Foot Pump
Versatility is one of our favorite features in a gadget, and the Airstomper proves that once again. Bulky and too heavy to secure to a bike, the Airstomper will remain in your garage, but that’s perfect because for $17.99 you can use the multiple attachments to inflate everything in sight: bike tires, beach balls, air mattresses, basketballs, and flotation devices. A wall mount will keep it out of the way, and a latch secures the foot pedal flush against the body. The air hose is not very long, but the base is sturdy and doesn’t slide around when you’re using one foot. A wide chamber allows in more air, so a 24-inch bike tire goes from flat to full in 20 pumps. Included is a pressure gauge, but it’s fairly useless—stick with the tried and true method of having your kids poke it to see if it’s full.
Air Driver 700
What better company to represent the bike pumps everybody had as kids than Schwinn? Updated with some new features, the Air Driver 700 improves on the concept of a hand pump but keeps some of the frustration from our childhood. The most notable improvement is the needle, which has its own air valve so you don’t need to remove it for any reason. A collapsible T-handle can fold to lock onto the unit so it’s out of the way and doesn’t slide around when not in use, but when pumping, the wobbly handle remains as unsteady as it was in 1983. For $13.99, you don’t have to worry about CO2 cartridges, and it’s light enough to carry on your bike—a good thing because it comes with a frame mount.