Safety and Education Committee Report

Roadside Tire Inflation

In the early 80's [when I joined the club] a good frame pump was considered an essential part of the bike and knowing how to use it was a basic skill. Flats were common and “everybody” knew how to change a tire. Today very few bicyclists carry a full size pump and almost nobody can fully inflate their tires with one. Times have changed and other options may better meet your needs.

Tires have improved and cell phones prevent being stranded. Many people now take their bikes to the shop for [the infrequent] flat repair. Self reliance [and saving time] are now why people repair flats while on a ride. CO 2 inflators are easy to use and faster than a pump. If you choose to go this route it's recommended that you also carry a backup [mini?] pump. These pumps are slow [120 PSI=500+ strokes] and the time required to use them is hard to justify. CO 2 will get you home but it must be replaced as it leaks through a tube 10x faster than air. Nitrogen cartridges are available and this gas lasts twice as long as normal air.

As a retiree “I'm always where I'm supposed to be” and time is the only thing of true value. For me using a frame pump requires the least amount of time as I've already learned how to use one and carrying it has little effect on my vehicle's speed. The Silca pump article in Bicycling [September, 2016] said these [plastic] pumps are coming back and are something you might want to consider but metal pumps last longer. My favorite pump [Zefal HPX frame pump] has been in service for over 20 years but they seem to last “forever”. It will inflate my tire [700x23c, 120 PSI] in 150 strokes and refilling the tire with air [at home] exceeds the time I'd save on the road. Inflating my tire with this pump is quick [<2 min] and it “always works”. Using a frame pump is an acquired skill and some of the newer frame pumps are a little slower but convert to floor pumps [w/gauge]. Over the years my pump has paid for itself many times over but now I only use it once or twice a year.

One need only “follow the money” to find the truth. CO 2 devices are much cheaper than a frame pump and you can buy a lot of cartridges before a pump's cost is amortized. The time required to learn a skill you rarely need might be better spent doing something else. I “consume only what I need” and already own a pump that I know how to use. Using CO 2 cartridges isn't a good choice for me but I can't say what's right for you.

When you properly define a problem the solution is obvious.

Bill Fisk
Safety and Education


Make sure to wear at least one item of reflective outerwear apparel, such as a reflective vest, jacket, or helmet strip, during the period from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise.

Safety and Education Coordinator

Biking 101