Wednesday, March 26, 2014

product review: zefal hpx frame pump

Riding around in the city, I seldom have mechanicals. My bikes are kept in good running order through a combination of annual tuneups, the occasional bearing overhaul, and a large dose of good luck. But when I do have a problem, I can usually turn to a small toolkit that I keep with me.
This afternoon, I ran over a tiny piece of glass that embedded itself in my front tire and went deeper into the rubber with every turn of the wheel. When I came out from having a long cup of coffee at World Cup near the synagogue where I teach, the front tire was almost totally flat. I walked it over the synagogue so I could duck under the side entry and fix it out of the rain.

Fixing the flat was no big deal, except that the bead fits on the rim pretty tightly and so getting it on and off was a bit of a wrestle. Once the hole was patched I pumped it up with my favorite frame pump, the Zefal HPX.

The HPX is the only frame pump that doesn't convert to a quasi-floor pump and still inflates the tire up to full pressure. The handle turns to two different settings: rigid, to be used when pumping up the tire, and springy, to make it esier to mount the pump on the frame when you're done. The HPX comes in four different lengths, to fit inside most frames. The most popular places to mount the pump are inside the main triangle, either along the seat tube or under the top tube. Another place some like to mount the pump is along the non-drive side seat stay.

Photos below show the pump in its various guises/eras, and mounting possibilities.

Zefal pumps, top to bottom:
HP (pre-HPX), ca. 1970's

Zefal pumps can be disassembled and parts replaced, making them among the longest-lasting pumps out there. NOTE: some parts are getting harder to find and not all dealers carry the brand. If you find a source for small parts, buy extras, especially the rubber gasket that fits inside the pump head and the larger plunger gasket that fits inside the barrel.

Above: Top tube mount. Often the frame will have a small nub or point brazed on to accommodate the hole in the end of the pump, for a more secure fit. But you should still use a velcro strap to keep it in place. Jandd makes an especially nice one just for the purpose, with a padded panel to place between the pump body and the bicycle frame:

Below -- Seat tube mount:

      Below -- Seat stay mount. Custom builders will braze on a tip by request, but you can also use a clamp-on tip as shown below:                                                    

In all cases, I strongly recommend you use a pump strap with any frame pump that does not include a clip for the water bottle eyelets. 
Prices range from $38 to $45 US at your local bike shop. And although there are times when having a floor pump would be more convenient, I never regret having one of these along. I keep one on each of my bikes.

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