Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Birzman Velocity RG 160psi road pump

Ok, so finally after 3 months of waiting my Birzman Velocity RG minipump arrived - the 160psi road version for circa £30. I need a pump because I'm sick of using up CO2 cartridges with local roads being what they are.

My findings are a bit different to the 2013 review that got me interested HERE.

Nice integrated gauge.
The frame mount is nice.

Note 'teeth' inside
It's right for a jersey pocket.

80psi - 240 strokes later...
So off we go to The TVCC Testing Lab. <dons white coat and safety glasses>

Test setup: 28c Continental GP 4 Seasons with butyl tube:

100 strokes: 30psi
150 strokes: 50psi
200 strokes: 65psi
240 strokes: 80psi - my magic number for a rear tyre. Who needs more?
300 strokes: 85psi
350 strokes: 105psi

(yes, I realise the last jump of 50 strokes for +20psi is an anomaly - might be the gauge isn't perfectly linear)

...and I stopped there because it was getting hard to hang onto the head end of the pump, and a bit uncomfy on an ungloved hand to push.

How the reviewer on Road.CC managed 140psi is beyond me.

I repeated the test 3 times, and got basically the same results.

One note is that you do need to screw the Snap-It valve on a few turns once you've snapped it, er, on. The instructions say 'push the collar forward and give it a short twist'. Otherwise it is prone to blowing off - happened thrice while testing. And at 105psi, the pull-back release didn't work, so had to unscrew it - veeeerrryy carefully, which kinda defeats the purpose. Luckily I had remembered to tighten the valve core. I might have screwed it on a bit far - but then I needed to to guarantee it wouldn't come off. Maybe some trial/error needed. So the Snap-It valve is definitely an improvement on screw-on hoses, but it's not *perfect*.

All in all I'm happy with the pump for 80psi purposes having paid £30 - Having used a few friend's pricey Lezyne pumps recently and needing to top up with gas even to get to 80psi, it's definitely better. However if you weigh 110kg and are running 28c's needing to get up to 120+  you might want to try before you buy.

A nice finding is the gauge is surprisingly accurate. Seems to match pretty much spot on the Bontrager track pump I have (or they are both out by the same amount). Good for those long days where your brain insn't quite working and the Thumb-O-Meter of PSI is on the blink due to cold/wet.

One additional benefit is you can unscrew the Presta Snap-It valve and use it to inflate Schrader valves. Nice.

So overall I'm calling it 3.5 out of 5, mostly because it does what *I* need it to, and will do any Schrader-equipped bikes along the way too. But if you were looking for something to get up to 140 let alone 160psi - you might be disappointed. To be honest short of a full-size frame pump, I don't think a minipump exists that lives up to marketing hype. Whoever invents a minipump capable of a real-world 120psi in 200 comfy strokes will make a million overnight.

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