I’ll admit, for a long time I didn’t think there were many new ideas that you could cogitate where floor pumps were concerned. Really, how many things could a pump do that they didn’t already do? A more accurate gauge? Fewer strokes to full inflation? A more stable base? A longer hose? An easier chuck? All those roads were paved, so to speak. The only options were to smoothe that pavement.
Or so I thought.
The emergence of tubeless tires sent many home mechanics to the hardware store to buy a compressor. Some of us just visited the bike shop. One friend blew a tire off the rim at a gas station. More recently companies have begun to introduce pumps with a second chamber, one that can be pressurized to release a big blast of air at once. Among those is Topeak’s Joe Blow Booster. It’s basically a standard Joe Blow floor pump fitted with that second chamber, which can pressurized to 160 psi to give one huge blast of air to seat a tubeless tire.
That secondary chamber runs roughly the length of the pump and has a significantly larger diameter to hold a large volume of air. Pumping the chamber up to 160 psi will, rather predictably, take a while, but it will easily seat large mountain bike tires, though 27.5″ x 3.0″ “plus” tires will tax its capacity. To manage a tire that large, you must max out the pressure and make sure the tire is positioned optimally on the rim. If anything is off, forget it.
To pressurize the pump, simply turn the gauge at the dial to “charge” and then once pressurized, turn the dial back to “inflate.” Voila! Seated tire. I’ve found it’s often necessary to pump the tire up to its maximum recommended pressure immediately afterward and then gently circulating the sealant around the sides of the tire slowly to give the sealant the opportunity to do its thing.
I’m seeing more and more pumps these days with a pressure release valve, so that you can overinflate a tire and then gently correct into the ideal pressure. However, most of these valves are fitted on the chuck, and it can be difficult to both see the gauge and depress a tiny button on the chuck. Topeak realized that placing the pressure release at the top of the hose, as close as possible to the gauge, was a much smarter approach.
The gauge is clearly marked and positioned at the top of the charge chamber to make it as easy to read as possible.
The chuck is Topeak’s “SmartHead,” which accepts either Presta or Schrader valve stems without changing parts or flipping adapters. Simply push it on and flip the lever. It also features a longer-than usual hose, which at 60 inches is the longest I’ve encountered.
This is a heavy (more than 6 pounds), heavy-duty pump. When I picked it up I worried that the base wouldn’t be big enough to maintain stability, but the formed steel has proven to keep the pump upright, even when bumped by little people, ahem. It goes for $159.95.
What I like best about this pump is certainly the charge chamber, but almost as important is that unlike many mountain bike pumps that go for giant barrels to allow you to move large volumes of air but become difficult to pump north of 30 psi, the Joe Blow Booster uses a relatively narrow barrel which makes it easy for anyone to use.
Final thought: A must-have for the tubeless rider.