Next up in the BikeHacksTivus airing of products is the RoadAir portable bike pump. Right up front I'll say the makers of this product have not airored (or is it errored?) in any way. It's a fantastic pump that addresses some common frustrations associated with pumping up tires on the road. "On your left!" (sorry, could not resist) is the pump in it's original packaging, and on the right is the pump with it's first secret weapon of greatness in full view - an extendable rubber hose.
The extendable and flexible hose helps address one major problem with hand pumps I have had in the past - the tearing of an inner tube and/or breaking the air input valve. All hand pumps I have owned in the past, like the pump I have owned for the past several years seen pictured below, lock the body of pump onto the valve directly and any motion on the pump is transferred directly to the valve. Since portable pumps are so small and you have to exert a lot of force to get air into the tire, it can be easy to damage either the valve or the tube during the inflation process (old pump locking the body directly to the valve pictured here).
Locking the pump body directly to the valve will often lead to riders getting creative with how they fill up their tires, as in this example provided by reader "The Guth" in a previous entry.
When field-repairing a flat without a floor pump it's very easy to put too much strain on the valve, I've destroyed more than one tube this way. But I had a dynamite idea, I stacked up my tire levers and put them underneath the head of the pump so that when pushing down on the pump it was aimed directly at the straight valve. I could effectively use the pump as a floor pump and put no strain on the valve stem. I cannot be the first to come up with this but I don't recall seeing it anywhere.
The flexible hose on the RoadAir pump means no "anti-strain" hacks/contortions are necessary. Any excess motion is negated by the flexible hose. The fitting on the pump head is threaded so it screws on tight rather than relying on a twist activated pressure seal like most pumps I have used in the past.
The second genius part of the pump is an integrated storage compartment that comes filled with three items so commonly needed, and often misplaced, when adding air to a tire, ball, or inflatable object. Inflating Presta tubes is no problem with the included adapter, and the ball needle and tapered nozzle are great to have around.
As long as you replace each item each time you use the pump, there will never be a need to go looking for the necessary item when you need it most. The instructions are simple, nothing crazy to figure out. I did get a kick out of "desiered". I misspell words frequently, but it seems like one might want to triple check prior to printing packages for a product - and to their credit they got it correct once =)
So how does the pump perform when inflating a tire? I let the air out of one tire and pumped it up to a very reasonable pressure. I did not measure it with a gauge, I "measured" it with the tried and true method of the finger pinch. The tire was more than firm enough to get me on my way. I did not count the total number of pumps or anything as I don't think the number of pumps it takes matters. What matters more when you use a pump is that you don't have to do yoga or contort your body or bike to get the tire to a reasonable pressure without tearing your valve or tube.
The pump also comes with a bracket to mount directly on your bike and the dimensions of the pump are listed as:
9.4 x 0.9 x 1 inches ; 4.6 ounces
The link off of their site to Amazon prices the pump at $29.95 which is very competitive with similar pumps. In sum, the pump works well, is priced reasonably, and I would highly recommend it.