There are a few items that are pretty much essential for any cyclist to own. While a lot of stuff - expensive wheels, fancy shoes, three-figure-costing clothing - is nice to have and will be definite improvements over the basics, the essential stuff is kit without which you’ll find your bike off the road very quickly.
One of those essentials is a bike pump. Even without a puncture, air will slowly escape from tyres over time which is why your tyres were flat on that old MTB you pulled from the shed after not riding for 6 months. With flat tyres you’re not going anywhere fast - or anywhere at all - but the good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get one.
The other thing to think about is what kind of pump you need. There are essentially three types:
1- Track pumps. This is what you probably see in your mind when you think about a pump. They’re tall, work with a plunger action with a big, visible pressure gauge and a large capacity which means they inflate tyres quickly
2 - Mini pumps. These are great to carry with you in case you get a puncture on the go. Most are able to inflate to high pressure but it takes a fair bit to time and effort. Think of it as something to get you home.
3 - CO2 inflators. small cartridges filled with carbon dioxide that attach to a pump head and inflate tyres very quickly. The downside is that they’re one use per cartridge so if you get two punctures you’d better have two with you. Convenient in some ways, not so much in others.
A sensibly-priced option from the tool experts at Park Tool, the PFP-8 has a wide, stable base, perfect for stability and it’s steel as well, so it’s made to last.
The head is composite and can accept Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves and the thumb lock keeps it in place securely so you can focus on pumping.
Pressure gauge is large and easy to read, showing pressure in both PSI and Bar and is integrated into the base of the pump, helping to protect it from the knocks and scraps that come from taking the pump with you when you go away.
It's blue, too, so it'll match all your other Park Tool kit.
A full-on track pump for only £25, the EasiTrack 3 is a great value pump for anyone on a budget. Made from steel with a durable two-tone rubber handle it’s designed to pump up your tyres with minimal fuss. Oh, and it comes in a variety of colours, because who doesn’t like things that match?
The Airstore is a great pump because it’s both a track pump and a tubeless inflator. Simply switch the dial from pump to reservoir and you can pump the auxiliary cylinder up to 260 psi, more than enough to seat even the toughest tubeless tyres.
The pressure gauge is smartly located at the top of the pump, making it easy to see, meaning you don’t need to stoop at all while you’re pumping up your tyres.
While the names aren't always catchy, Park Tool's kit always gets the job done. This mini pump is a nice, small size and come with a holder that bolts under a water bottle cage in case you'd rather not carry it in a pocket or bag. The clip on the head helps to keep the pump secure while you inflate the tyre, and the aluminium barrell construction is hard wearing and will keep it's shape to ensure continued smooth pumpoing for years.
Small and easy to carry, CO² inflators are popular as a first puncture remedy, becuase they're easy to use and quick to inflate a tyre. Make sure you have the right capacity cartridges, though, because MTB and Hybrid tyres have a far larger capacity that skinny road tyres.
This precision machined inflator head from TruFlo has a screw in attachment for you cartridge and a push-on style head for Presta or Schrader valves. It comes as a head unit only, but TruFlo offers multipacks of cartidges available separately.