Flats and Pumps

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I had a ton of flats recently.  Both racing and training.  That is the way it has always seemed to go my whole life.  I won’t flat for ages, the I’ll flat a bunch in a row.  It doesn’t make sense.

I think the tubes and tubular tires aren’t made as well as they used to be.  For sure the tubes. You can get a batch of bad tubes and flat continually until you realize they are shit.

I’m hoping tubular tires are different.  I pretty much only race on Vittoria sewups.  The reason for this is that I know them well and thus, predictable.  Especially in the rain.

But the last year I’ve had a few really bad Vittorias.  I got a bunch of cyclocross tires that all had bad valve stems. Not really bad valve stems, but where they attached to the tubes, was flawed. Then at Joe Martin, the same thing.  A brand new Vittoria flatted in the final corner of a long road race and the only thing the matter with it was that it was leaking air at the valve stem. That is unacceptable.

I’ve already written a post on floor pumps.  It is easy to get frustrated with floor pumps.  Just when you think you have a good one, it isn’t.  I good floor pump is a very important part of the happiness of cycling, in my opinion.

I need to get another hand pump.  A real frame pump.  Both Bill and my brother carry full size frame pumps and when I flat, and use them, I always think to myself that I need to get a nice frame pump.  I’m not even sure who makes them anymore.

I used to have some awesome Silca pumps, sometimes painted to match my frame, by Joe Bell.  I haven’t had a good Silca pump for a long time.  I had a pretty good Zefal frame pump, but it lacked the nostalgia of my Silcas.

Anyway, I hope I’ve gotten this streak of flats out of my system.  I’m going to be doing some MTB racing and such, and flatting with latex in your tires is a mess.  Way worse than changing a tube on the road.

This is a photo of Alan McCormick's Schwinn Paramount. We had matching Silca pumps painted with the frames. I wonder how many of those are around anymore.

This is a photo of Alan McCormick’s Schwinn Paramount. We had matching Silca pumps painted with the frames. I wonder how many of those are around anymore?

A SIlca frame pump with a steel campy head is about the best you can still do. Even thought the pumps are just plastic, they work great.

A SIlca frame pump with a steel campy head is about the best you can still do. Even thought the pumps are just plastic, they work great.

Tucker gets into pretty weird positions when he is sleeping.

Tucker gets into pretty weird positions when he is sleeping.




27 thoughts on “Flats and Pumps

  1. Rob bell

    Now that Josh poertner (former zipp engineer) is at silca, I bet their stuff is a lot nicer than it was just a year or two ago. Buying one of their press on chucks for my 10 year old specialized pump brought new life back into it.

    I think the silca floor pumps are overpriced (especially when the important part is the Chuck, and you can put that on any pump for cheap), but their latest batch of frame pumps looks second to none.

  2. Carl Sundquist

    There is little about an Italian Silca pump that needed improving on. Yes, you had to be careful not to accidentally cock the pump to the side, lest you nudge the valve stem of the tune and send the Silca pump plunger shooting across the road like a mortar shell. But if you spent 3 minutes learning how to use it, it was a very serviceable tool with incredible longevity.

    And how are you supposed to fend off an unleashed dog with a CO2 cartridge?

  3. Bill K

    My Silca track pump is around 30 years old. I’ve only replaced the internal leather gasket once, around 10 years ago. The rubber chuck gaskets last forever since I only use unthreaded tubes.
    I hated Silca frame pumps. After 90 psi, every stroke needed two grunts to accomplish. The Zefal HPX was 100% better (not in looks, but in operation)
    I would recommend getting some Conti Comps for road races. They aren’t quite as nice as CX’s for Crits, but they have a butyl tube, and are bulletproof.
    I had a CX that sat around for a couple years, that was good when brand new, but wouldn’t hold air when I went to glue it on last fall. I sent to out to get “re-tubed”, and they did a great job (butyl tube)

    1. Terry

      Pretty sure it’s the opposite, that latex has more flat resistance due to its elasticity.

  4. Heckawee Guy

    I use a Lezyne mini pump with flexible hose. Nylon bracket mounts under bottle cage and spare mounts are inexpensive so I can use the same pump on all my bikes. Chatter from it is minimal. Works great.

  5. mark

    I have had so many flats running tubeless (MTB) that I am considering just going back to tubes full time. It’s a very rare occurrence for me that tire sealant actually works anyhow.

  6. Dave

    The discovery of “hydration” marked the beginning of the two-bottle bike setup…..and the end of the frame pump.

      1. channel_zero

        I keep mine on the seat stay. But, I ride a CX bike and there’s room. I don’t know about a dedicated road bike.

  7. Dog

    The guy with the frame pump is always the hero of the group ride. Can’t even come close to guessing the number of folks I have put back on the road thru the years with a frame pump and now sticky patches. That little Lezyne pocket pump is pretty amazing too. A guy traded me the road one for the mtb one of those. Best deal I ever made for gravel grinding. That mtb pump of others gets tires up to 4ish lbs pretty quick.

  8. James Stout

    just wait for an upcoming edition of Bicycling so you can hear Robin and I sounding off on why proper pumps are better

    1. Bill E

      Topeak makes solid frame pumps. They have a lockout feature that makes it pretty easy to inflate to high pressure. I had one for 4-5 yrs on my road bike before it failed. Just replaced with another of the same last week.

  9. chiefhiawatha

    In the cold Chicago winters, the guy with a manual pump is a hero. The CO2 just doesn’t work as well.

  10. Larry T.

    The venerable Silca floor pump’s always been bullet-proof and why-the-hell wouldn’t someone carry a proper frame pump on any sort of ride farther than they wanted to walk back from?
    Silca’s new Impero is wonderful and I got one (same with the Ultimate floor pump) as soon as they came out, but I’ve got plenty of other bikes with Park’s “fits-any-bike” frame pump that works great, though it’s rather ugly. I don’t run tubulars any more so can’t comment on quality there, but stopped using them when the cheap ones were no longer any good and the good ones were far from cheap. Tubes to stuff into a clincher tire? One word. MICHELIN. Yes, they’re no longer made in France like back-in-the-day but they’re still the best, the butyl A1(?) is always my 1st choice.

  11. Franz

    I have been using Blackburn frame pumps the last few years. They last a long time and I can pump a tire up to 120 PSI pretty quickly. Unfortunately, my new road frame needs a large pump and the pumps on all of my other bikes are a medium. Your article just made me decided to buy a large one but just discovered they don’t sell them anymore. I guess I will check eBay.

  12. SB

    Zefal “Rev 88” frame pump. It’s lighter weight than a c02+adaptor, and I’ve been using mine for years. Don’t be turned off by the low price and plastic construction, it’s held up well to my abuse.

  13. Krakatoa East of Java

    Campagnolo needs to get at least some of the credit for the frame pump. There’s a reason Campy designed their own pump head. The Silca “head” was complete shit. Working together, Silca and Campy were great. I tended to hate the metal “grip” on the Silca. It rattled on the road, so I usually tossed it. Of course, this shortened the life of the Campy pump head gasket considerably, but I didn’t care.

  14. Bryan

    I have a Zefal HP-X pump I’ve had at LEAST 20 years. It’s almost as old as the frame itself. Its predecessor jumped off my frame hitting a bump, and landed in a drainage ditch that was raging due to a recent storm I had to ride through on my way to class. It fits along my top tube – and yes, my frame even has a pump peg. After the last pump jumped off the frame, I started strapping it. Every spring I take the pump apart, lube up the piston ring (which appears to be leather, but I’m not sure) and it still works like a charm.

    I’ve helped lots of riders on 100+ rides when they’ve used up their cartridges and have another flat, and no more spares. As long as their is atmosphere, I can use my pump!

  15. eric b

    any opinions on, say, a silca impero frame pump vs something like the topeak road morph g (or lezyne micro drive hp) for those occasions when one flies with a bike?


  16. Conrad

    I don’t go anywhere without my old zefal hpx. It has saved plenty of rides. More than two co2 cartridges weigh more than the frame pump. I also don’t bother with cheap tubes. Schwalbes are the best I think, and cost less in the long run because they last so long.

  17. Charles Dostale

    Hite floor pumps were better than the Silca floor pumps. From Ohio, American made. The were taller so had more air per stroke, and you didn’t have to bend over as far. I have two, one presta and one Schrader from the 80’s still working great.

    We always put a layer of cotton bar tape on the Silca frame pump under the metal handle. Kept it from rattling and had better grip. Part of the reason Silca frame pumps were great was the leather gasket instead of rubber or synthetic ( Zefal ). I always used a silicone pump lubricant instead of regular grease. The gaskets lasted longer and didn’t inject petroleum into the latex tubes. Jeff Bock still paints frame pumps to match BTW.

    I always put tires on rims to stretch and season before I glued them to rims. That’s what all the racks were for on the second floor of Michael’s 😉 Flatting brand new tires out of the box isn’t uncommon, they should be on the rack for a month at least.

  18. Pete A

    I like the current Topeak MasterBlaster frame pump. Get the one that fits, cheap, lasts long enough. You can disassemble if you want to get painted to match frame. With it, a spare tube, sticky patches, tire boot, $5 and I haven’t had the make the “call of shame” for wife/kids/friend to come fetch me from the side of the road, ever. Can make just about any tire hazard work to get home.

    My first license was ABL of A so we had no C02. Thus the Silca or Zefal was the ticket. Plus with 2 flats and only one spare sew-up (stinking Hutchinson Sprints flatted all the time) we learned to do the “pump and run”, use slowest leaking flatted tire. Pump it up, haul ass till you had to pump again. Got good at riding way back in seat for front flat or pedaling way out over bars for rear to maximize the run distance.

    We/me simply want/wanted to simply finish the ride without a stinking cel phone. Though the young guys with co2 make faces at frame pumps.


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