The tires on my bicycle are looking and feeling a bit squishy, so I decided that it was time to increase their atmospheric pressure by application of generous thrusts upon a pumping device designed for the task.

I hadn’t actually needed a pump since I brought the bike, thanks to a mixture of laziness in using the bike, and luck when out on it – so off to the local bicycle emporium to make a purchase.

My last bike was stolen a few years ago, and at the time, the pump was the classic long thin tube with a short fabric covered bendy pipe that created the necessary symbiosis between bike and pump.

Fortunately, upon entering the bike shop I was able to swiftly spy my goal, but also spent a moment perusing the vastly posher looking pumps on offer. Do people really pay £20 for a bicycle pump I thought to myself? Do people really buy pumps with compressed air to save them the effort of manual labour I pondered.

Obviously they do, otherwise the shop wouldn’t stock them – but the concept confounded me a bit at the time.

Purchase made – and half an hour later I was back in the shop.

It seems the world has convulsed somewhat since I last owned a bike – and now there are different fittings for bike pumps.

The salesman explained that I could spend £20 on a gigantic pump unit which was very good at pumping tires, but looked rather difficult to store in a small cupboard – or I could spend a similar amount on one of those small posh pumps that I had been looking at in bemusement less than an hour ago.

No – you cannot use a £4 plastic tube any more – you have to buy a posh brushed steel pump that is less comfortable to use and costs a comparative fortune for the task it is destined to perform.

On the upside, it does look rather manly in a geeky gadget sort of way.

Whether that justifies the extra cost and an industry which seems to have switched from a time honoured simplicity to over designed industrial complexity is dubious though.

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6 Comments

  1. Ah, that looks familiar. I also had to buy one of these v. expensive gizmos, but I bought mine when I bought my bike. I’d budgetted for bike & helmet, but foolishly I hadn’t expected to pay much extra for water bottle carrier, bike pump, saddlebag etc. I remember being staggered by the extra cost from all these bits and pieces – mainly caused by the rather expensive pump.

  2. Alan

    Can’t but an ordinary bike pump any more? The country is going to the dogs, I say, going to the dogs!

  3. kev

    you could also just go to a petrol station and use theirs…free or 20p depending on how cheap the station is! and to be fair the new pumps do pump out air more efficiently

  4. I have always Cycled ever since Three Years Old and have had many Bicycles over the Years. A few Years ago I got a Hybrid and one of those Super Duper Modern Mini Pumps and it was OK for awhile but then started giving me trouble. It would not attach too well to the Valve. I eventually got a Dutch Bike from the Netherlands with an Old style Pump accept that it did not have a Thin Tube,you just pressed the Pump against the Valve.

    I did not like this and I eventually got a Zefal a French made Pump. It is the Traditional Old Style Pump,a Plastic Foot and a Half long Tube with a Four Inch long Thin Nylon Pipe That you connect to your Vale and it has Presta or Schwader Connections. I find this marvellous to use and I can use it on all my Bikes. It is far easier to use than the Modern Style.

    I bought it for € 10 Euro which is I suppose about £8 – 9 GBP in my Favourite Bike Shop in Dublin. So you can still get these Pumps in most Bike Shops either in Plastic or Metal if you want to Splurge out more.

    However if you are a Roadie and Love Racing Bikes you will undoubtedly pick a Mini Pump and those Cartridge Thingies. Dublin Ireland

  5. You can still buy a pump for less than £5 if you go to Decathlon at Surrey Quays, it won’t be as long as the old fashioned ones but will be much more effective.

  6. Thomas Wood

    £20 for that?

    I too had to buy a pump for the smaller valve type last year, it was probably only about £5 though…

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