A mini pump is a compact inflator designed to be carried on every ride, and it’s an essential part of every cyclist’s armoury for when you puncture on the road or trail.
Mini pumps are subject to two conflicting pressures: on the one hand, when you use it, you want it to get your tyre up to pressure quickly and without too much effort; on the other, on most rides you’d hope not to use it so it’s just dead weight. And we know how much cyclists hate dead weight.
Unfortunately, efficiency means enough length to get a good volume of air up to a high pressure, which means weight. There’s a compromise to be made and you need to decide whether you’re prepared to sacrifice the ability to get a tyre back up to normal running pressure reasonably quickly in favour of having a device that’s easier to carry around.
Fortunately the switch to tubeless tyres should have reduced the incidence of punctures and nowadays tyres are run at lower pressures, which might swing the argument in favour of a more compact mini pump.
Best mini pumps 2023
Our pick of the very best:
Silca Tattico: £86Lezyne Digital Pressure Drive: £77Lezyne Tech Drive HP mini pump: £35Birzman Infinite Apogee Road: £35SKS Air Flex Racer: £35Zefal Air Profil Switch: £18
The also-rans that didn’t perform quite as well:
BBB Windgun: £25Specialized Air Tool Road: £24Topeak Racerocket: £35Topeak Roadie 2Stage: £37
Keep reading for full mini pump reviews and detailed buying advice.
How do we test and why trust our advice?
Here at Cyclist, we’re out testing bikes and riding all year, in all weathers and all around the globe. Punctures are part and parcel of that and when they happen, we want to be back on the bike as quickly as possible.
Our team of reviewers led by tech editor Sam Challis and website editor Matthew Loveridge know what to look for in a mini pump, both when it’s in use and on the many rides where it sits in a rear pocket and just enjoys the ride. We’ve tried out every pump in this guide thoroughly and if we say it’s good, you can be confident it is.
Best mini pumps 2023 reviewed
Silca Tattico mini pump: Seriously expensive, built to last
£86High quality buildIntegrated hose with locking lever
The Silca Tattico mini pump is beautifully made, with integrated grip surfaces in its alloy body for a firm grip when in use. It includes a built-in hose with a locking head for a firm connection to the tyre valve. It’s well weatherproofed when not in use.
It’s easy to get a high pressure into a road tyre or high volume into a gravel tyre in a reasonable number of strokes. This pump is quite long at 24cm and heavy at 166g, so it’s not easy to carry in a pocket. It feels like one that will last you for ever though, justifying its high price. It’s expensive but you really do get what you pay for here.
Lezyne Digital Pressure Drive mini pump: Best for pressure weenies
£77Built in digital gauge for precise pressure settingCompact but effective
Lezyne’s small pump is robust and easy to use, once you’ve gone through the fiddly process of screwing its hose to the valve and into the pump barrel. It can achieve rideable pressures without too much effort, although there are some sharp edges that can be uncomfortable.
The pump includes a digital pressure gauge, accurate to 1psi. It’s nice to have, although you’ll probably be more interested in getting back on the road than the precise pressure your tyre holds.
Lezyne Tech Drive HP mini pump: Powerful and easy to use
£35Long enough for effective pumpingRobust construction
A longer pump from Lezyne, the Tech Drive HP is the most effective pump here, either for reaching higher pressures or to inflate a gravel bike tyre. It’s comfortable to use, with plenty of surface to grip, although that does make it less pocketable.
As with the Digital Pressure Drive, setup takes a bit longer than with some other pumps and you need to be careful when removing the screw-on connector from a valve to avoid losing some of the air that you’ve laboriously pushed into your tyre.
Birzman Infinite Apogee Road mini pump: Clever head design
£35A long pump for efficient pumpingApogee head makes for quick valve connection and disengagement
Birzman’s Apogee connector pushes onto the valve and seals with a small twist, making for quick setup. After you’ve inflated your tyres, you just pull down on the connector collar to release the valve.
The pump is comfortable to use, although it doesn’t reach higher pressures as quickly as some competitors. It’s quite long for a jersey pocket and weatherproofing isn’t as good as some other pumps either.
SKS Airflex Racer: Compact and easy to use
£35Compact design with integral hosePlenty of surface to grip
SKS’s mini pump is compact and divides in its centre, with a rubber coating to the handle so it’s easy to get a good grasp when using it. The valve connector is at the end of an integral hose that pulls out of the end of the pump barrel.
Its short length makes it easy to pocket, although it does limit efficiency, so that it takes quite a few pump strokes to inflate either a road or gravel tyre. It’s quite a rattly pump as well, both from the connector head and the barrel.
Zefal Air Profil Switch: Cheap and effective
£18Quite short, but still effectiveLacks hand purchase for higher pressure pumping
The Zefal Air Profil Switch is an inexpensive pump that has a push-on head with a locking lever. It’s reasonably effective on both road and gravel bike tyres despite its short length, although it’s difficult to find somewhere to grip once you reach higher pressures.
It’s a pump that would fit easily in a jersey pocket. The valve connector isn’t covered though, so we’d want to protect it from muck and water with a piece of insulating tape when carrying the pump, to avoid contamination.
The runners up
These mini pumps will do the job, but in our testing we’ve found that there was some aspect of their performance or usability that wasn’t quite up to the standard of their rivals.
BBB Windgun: Useful T-handle, underwhelming gauge
£25T-handle for comfortable useIntegrated analogue pressure gauge
BBB’s large Windgun pump has a head that hinges, giving you a comfortable handhold while pumping. There’s also a built-in analogue pressure gauge, a locking lever and separate Presta and Schrader heads under a dust cap.
The pump shifts a significant volume of air per stroke due to its large size, but achieving higher pressures is hard work. The pressure gauge is difficult to read and is not very accurate at lower gravel bike pressures.
Specialized Air Tool Road: The smallest mini pump
£24Diminutive, lightweight pumpTakes a lot of pumping to reach higher pressures
A tiny pump, the Air Tool Road is easily lost in a jersey pocket. When it’s time to use it, the pump just pushes onto the valve, so it’s quick to start reinflating. This will take some time though, as the volume of air moved per stroke is low, although that does make for an easy pump action. It’s also difficult to find somewhere to grasp the pump head.
If you want the smallest, lightest pump, the Air Tool Road is a good option. Just don’t expect to get moving again quickly if you need to use it.
Topeak Racerocket: Small but easy to grip
Matthew Loveridge / Cyclist£35Integrated pull-out hose and valve core toolSmarthead Presta/Schrader adapter can unseat Presta valve cores
The Topeak Racerocket is a small pump that will fit easily in a jersey pocket. It has an integrated hose with Topeak’s Smarthead Presta/Schrader adapter which screws onto the valve.
It’s easily pocketable and comfortable to use with plenty of area to grip, although its short 18cm length means that it’s not as efficient as longer pumps and can only achieve modest pressure. The Smarthead isn’t quite as clever as it thinks it is.
Topeak Roadie 2Stage: Clever but slow
£37Compact design and quality constructionTwo stage pumping makes higher pressures easier
The Topeak Roadie 2Stage pump lets you switch using a dial on the top of the handle from pumping higher volumes of air at lower pressures to less volume, but with easier pump action, at higher pressures. It’s a compact pump that’s easy to fit in a jersey pocket.
The 2Stage design lets you get a reasonable volume of air into a tyre relatively quickly. Switch to high pressure mode and pumping gets a lot easier, but there’s little extra pressure added to your tyre without a lot of pump strokes.
How to choose a mini pump: 5 key details to look for
If you do need to inflate your tyre when out riding, the last thing you want is to have to spend 30 minutes getting your tyre up to a pressure where it won’t bottom out on the rim every time you go over a bump.
So a pump that will achieve at least a get-you-home pressure without too much time spent is a necessity. Unfortunately, many mini pumps don’t really manage this, particularly the smallest, lightest options. If you want your pump to work rather than just be for show, efficient reinflation is key.
Almost all mini pumps come with a frame mount, but if you decide to use a jersey pocket, you want a pump that’s not going to jiggle around or potentially drop out as you ride. So a shorter pump is an advantage here, even if it is less efficient – which works in opposition to the above.
Frame mounts usually fit under a bottle cage and the pump sits beside your bottle. Here it’s directly in line for wheel spray and muck, not to mention anything that leaks out of your bottle as you ride.
If you do decide to use your frame mount, you’ll want your pump to be resistant to dirt and wet, which can foul up its mechanism and corrode internals. Even in a jersey pocket, a stray empty gel wrapper or mud from an off-road ride can foul up your pump.
At some point in the reinflation process, it’s going to get hard. When this happens depends on how efficient the pump is. But when it does, you’ll probably be bent over your wheel pumping as hard as you can – and usually either in burning sun or freezing rain.
A pump needs to provide plenty of room to grip it when you get to this stage, both on the handle and the barrel. It’s easy to displace a valve core, so that you lose air, lose the seal between the pump and the connector or damage a valve, particularly with a push-on style pump, when trying to squeeze air into a tyre against high resistance. It’s nice not to have your fingers entwined in the spokes either.
5. Manufacturer’s claims
We’d take these with a pinch of salt. Most cyclists aren’t built like Popeye and most don’t want to spend half their rides standing by the roadside trying to get a tyre pressure up to 120psi – and who rides a tyre at this sort of pressure nowadays?
Many pumps still provide both Presta and Schrader valve connectors. The latter is useful for some city bikes and a few budget mountain bikes still use this standard, but for the majority of riders Presta compatibility (which will also allow you to inflate the even rarer Dunlop valves) is likely to be adequate.
Need some pre-ride inflation? Check out our guide to the best cycling track pumps