The Silca Pista
Of all the tools I have purchased for bike maintenance, my Silca Pista is the single oldest item I own. It’s reliable like a good dog. Like a dog, it’s not free, and it requires some work, but its operation is so familiar as to provide comfort.
Between all the different bikes I’ve owned, reviewed or wrenched on plus those bikes of teammates I’ve raced with, I estimate I’ve used it to take tires up to 8 bar more than 15,000 times.
I’ve had it so long, were it human it would be emancipated. At this point, it’s a bit like a commercial aircraft; The only parts I haven’t replaced are the base, barrel, handle and chuck. Hoses, grommets, gaskets, plungers and more, I’ve replaced everything else on this pump at least once. The miracle is that I have at times purchased new parts before actually needing them and then—after a year or three—have been able to find them to install.
There are pumps with bigger bases, bigger handles, larger diameter barrels, bigger gauges, but the Silca Pista remains my standard. Give me a smooth valve stem and a little shoulder room and I think I could run a kids’ balloon party.
Companies keep trying to top this baby but a quick lesson in physics taught me why larger diameter barrels don’t improve pumps; they actually increase the amount of force necessary to reach a given pressure. Not so bueno for cyclists who have the upper bodies of a T-Rex minus the green and the scales. That Columbus tube is laudable not for its pedigreed manufacturer, but rather its small diameter.
I’ll put it this way: If you ever enter my garage and can’t find my Silca Pista, call 911, because it’s been stolen.