The Great Debate: Pump or Chuck

The Great Debate: Pump or Chuck

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I’ve said it once before, but it bears repeating now: adherence to Rule #29 carries with it the ultimate mission of the aspiring Velominatus, which is to geek out endlessly over the minimum amount of gear which yields maximum security in the event of a mechanical incident while riding.

The goal here is twofold. First, with no European Posterior Man Satchel dangling off the back of your bike like an elephant’s nutsack, pocket real estate is at a premium; filling them up with unneeded tools seems wasteful. Second, sagging pockets are as distressing as an EPMS, so care must be taken to ensure the pockets stay as light as possible.

Minimalist multi tool, lightweight inner tube or tubbie goo, and tire levers are all obvious choices; one is left only to endeavor to find the lightest model of each which still functions reliably (a lifetime can be devoted to this task). But that leaves us with the delicate matter of how we choose to resupply the air which provides a simple yet critical element to repairing the most common mechanical of all, the flat tire. The question in this case is, of course, whether to choose a chuck and cartouche c-oh-duex or minipump. Ignoring the obvious utility of being able to challenge someone to a mini-pump duel in the event of irreconcilable difference of opinion on critical matters of La Vie Velominatus, both means of air resupply have their merits.

Dictum 1 above has historically put me in the camp of using a chuck and two C02 cartridges. (One cartouche is not enough, I am much too clumsy to depend on my ability not to bugger the first one up.) First of all, the Lezyne Trigger Drive appeals to my sense of aesthetics; it’s small, nicely crafted, feels great in the hand and can provide hours of fidgeting should it find its way into my pants pocket. I can’t get excited about any particular C02 cartridge, but they are small and simple and I have an inherent appreciation for anything with a thread on it.

Dictum 2, however, does give me some pause; the ensamble is anything but a featherweight. Enter my Lezyne Carbon Roadlite, which was given to me when Lezyne came onboard as Air and Tool Supplier for Keepers Tour 2012. Initially, the pump only accompanied me on wet rides (C02 has a tendency to cause some freezing when discharged in cold, wet weather – very unpleasant). But before long, it began to creep into my thick noggin that the little devil hardly weighs a thing and is more than small enough to fit in my pocket without protruding out of the top, which is most unsightly and considered entirely unacceptable. Today, I find myself reaching for the pump more often than I do the chuck as it lightens my kit a bit, allowing me to consume an additional ale or two without contributing to any overall rider-kit-bike weight gains.

I find myself wondering where others fall in the Great Debate; which path do you walk, Pump or Chuck?

// Accessories and Gear

  1. Wanna make a buttload of bucks? Figure out how to manufacture a AA battery powered pump. Seems to me that it could be the size of a cartouche. A single AA battery should pack enough wallop to pump to 120psi maybe a couple times. If not a spare AA should suffice.

    It’s not that I object to the pump that makes me chuck; it is just that it takes for fucking ever to get to ridable pressures. The chuck is screw, mount, depress, whoosh, go. And my most recent chuck purchase came with a little sleeve to put around the cartouche to insulate them little fingers.

  2. Nice one, Frank! Ugh, the pump sticking out the top o’ the pocket is very unsettling, for a number of reasons.

    I walk both paths. Lezye chuck + one canister in my pocket, then a Lezyne pump under my ST bottle cage. I know, I know. But those pumps are awesome and look so good I don’t mind. And, if you get the color right, they really blend into your bike. AND since I’ve seen a certain someone who resides in HI has one on is DT I’m feeling better with my indiscretions. Ha, even managed to sneak one in when sharing a photo and went unnoticed!

    I carry both. Usually opt for the air to work on the right northerly Gun.

    And on the topic of tools…ripped a tire last week while riding cross. Didn’t have the refill thing, couldn’t get it to hold any air, didn’t feel like putting in a tube (latex around the V-jersey, I don’t think so.) and thus the sag wagon was called. The VMH was in the ‘hood and since we’d recently put my only desired wedding gift on the car, a new flop down bike carrier, I was pumped to try it out

  3. @eightzero

    Wanna make a buttload of bucks? Figure out how to manufacture a AA battery powered pump. Seems to me that it could be the size of a cartouche. A single AA battery should pack enough wallop to pump to 120psi maybe a couple times. If not a spare AA should suffice.

    It’s not that I object to the pump that makes me chuck; it is just that it takes for fucking ever to get to ridable pressures. The chuck is screw, mount, depress, whoosh, go. And my most recent chuck purchase came with a little sleeve to put around the cartouche to insulate them little fingers.

    The Lezyne pumps get pretty darn high pretty darn fast.

    Something I’ve done, if needing an extra cartouche sleeve – an old tube cut and wrapped around, secured with electrical tape. Not rocket appliances, but does the trick.

  4. @michael

    I think you guys aren’t thinking about this the right way.  Pump in the winter to keep me warm, chuck in the summer to keep me cool.

    agreed.  plus in the summer is when all the local club/group rides are.  in the winter, i’m out there alone or with just one or two others.  not to say i’m relying on other people in the summer, but there’s a bit more safety in numbers; nothing wrong with borrowing a cartridge from a ride-mate, should you encounter some extremely rare situation where you’ve burned through your two.

  5. @flyfly

    A multitool isn’t an obvious choice for me. You should check your bike before the ride. Or carry with you also a spare chain, just in case.

    never understood the “no multitool, you should maintain your machine properly” argument.  of course i maintain my machine.  but of course, i’ve also broken a rear-shifter out of nowhere, 35km’s from home.  a multitool was quite handy at securing the rear derailleur into a reasonable gear to get home (with ~700m of climbing in-between).  i’ve also been taken down by some wet leaves before and had a crooked shifter and saddle.  etc, etc, etc…  again, multitool came in quite handy.

    fact is: issues happen.  yes, a flat tire is the most likely of them.  but it’s not the only one.

  6. @chiasticon

    @flyfly

    A multitool isn’t an obvious choice for me. You should check your bike before the ride. Or carry with you also a spare chain, just in case.

    never understood the “no multitool, you should maintain your machine properly” argument.  of course i maintain my machine.  but of course, i’ve also broken a rear-shifter out of nowhere, 35km’s from home.  a multitool was quite handy at securing the rear derailleur into a reasonable gear to get home (with ~700m of climbing in-between).  i’ve also been taken down by some wet leaves before and had a crooked shifter and saddle.  etc, etc, etc…  again, multitool came in quite handy.

    fact is: issues happen.  yes, a flat tire is the most likely of them.  but it’s not the only one.

    Or your dropouts come loose, or a cleat gets slack – I’ve had the tension spring on my rear shifter snap and had to shorten the chain to get home. Check everything as much as you like – shit still happens.

  7. @chiasticon

    @flyfly

    A multitool isn’t an obvious choice for me. You should check your bike before the ride. Or carry with you also a spare chain, just in case.

    never understood the “no multitool, you should maintain your machine properly” argument.  of course i maintain my machine.  but of course, i’ve also broken a rear-shifter out of nowhere, 35km’s from home.  a multitool was quite handy at securing the rear derailleur into a reasonable gear to get home (with ~700m of climbing in-between).  i’ve also been taken down by some wet leaves before and had a crooked shifter and saddle.  etc, etc, etc…  again, multitool came in quite handy.

    fact is: issues happen.  yes, a flat tire is the most likely of them.  but it’s not the only one.

    Agreed – I’m actually more likely carry a multi-tool than a spare tube. Tubes are bulky and 99% of the time a patch will do the job. Multi-tools are tiny and when you need one nothing else will do.

  8. @scaler911

    Last summer my buddy, who’s not allergic to bees, go stung on his “hood” (you know the one that hides under your bibs). Said he almost got run over while wildly flailing at his crotch, screaming like a toddler. While I nodded in sympathy as he told me the story, I kinda laughed on the inside. I’m going to hell aren’t I?

    No, that is just good old fashioned comedy, it does not mean you’re going to hell.

    A much younger Frank once took a whiz on a ground bee’s nest; I didn’t see it and didn’t know it was there and it dawned on me very slowly what was happening as one after another started to sting me in my most sensitive area. All I can say is there are a lot of bees called to action when their nest is being peed on. And when called to action, they do their work with admirable determination.

  9. OK, my bad. I have a tiny tool that never ever gets use, so I began to leave it at home.

    Truth is, if you want to be cautious, there’s PLENTY of stuff to bring with you. Even alone, I think I always can get help from people where I ride (around and above Grenoble).

    A pump, a spare tube, two levers, a folded bill, and a big smile when I knock the door of the good people who inhabit the mountains.

    And if my saddle is down, I’ll come home en danseuse.

  10. @Flyfly

    “I have a tiny tool that never ever gets use, so I began to leave it at home.”

    Don’t get me wrong

  11. You lot really need to Rule #5.

    It’s all talk. Old school is where it’s at. I carry an inner tube, levers (as my girly hands can’t get the tyres off otherwise), mini pump and puncture repair kit. If you get more than one puncture, you sit at the side of the road in the pouring rain and fix it. Even if you get 6 punctures, you’ll be fine, whereas you guys with your fancy CO2 canisters will be crying down the payphone for the missus to come and pick you up from the gutter, because no you don’t carry a phone either, despite most of the worlds payphones having vanished due to the advent of mobile technology. Although walking miles to find a payphone in your socks (so as not to ruin your cleats) is kinda Rule #5, it certainly isn’t Pro…

  12. @the Engine

    @chiasticon

    @flyfly

    A multitool isn’t an obvious choice for me. You should check your bike before the ride. Or carry with you also a spare chain, just in case.

    never understood the “no multitool, you should maintain your machine properly” argument.  of course i maintain my machine.  but of course, i’ve also broken a rear-shifter out of nowhere, 35km’s from home.  a multitool was quite handy at securing the rear derailleur into a reasonable gear to get home (with ~700m of climbing in-between).  i’ve also been taken down by some wet leaves before and had a crooked shifter and saddle.  etc, etc, etc…  again, multitool came in quite handy.

    fact is: issues happen.  yes, a flat tire is the most likely of them.  but it’s not the only one.

    Or your dropouts come loose, or a cleat gets slack – I’ve had the tension spring on my rear shifter snap and had to shorten the chain to get home. Check everything as much as you like – shit still happens.

    Had this exact scenario, when I had an off recently due to ignorance about chain wear. The chain dumped on a climb, and didn’t unclip in time. When I got up, the seat was about 5 degrees off. Lezyne V5 saved the ride. That it is called a V5 should be enough for anyone.

  13. Purchased a Lezyne Pressure Drive (Black) 120psi maximum. Good to carry during winter base miles. Maybe back to CO2 in the Spring.

  14. Local bike shop handed me this FREE just for asking about pumps versus CO2. Blackburn Airstik SL (7in)

    – Aluminum barrel and shaft
    – Rebuildable internals
    – Presta-specific head
    – Cage mount included
    – 58 grams
    – Max pressure 160psi

  15. @mxlmax

    Have to love that price.  I’m going to ask about more things than usual next time I’m in the LBS.

  16. @mxlmax

    so what’s your review?  does it live up to those specs?  what psi were you able to get into the tube?  how many pumps did it take?  did you rip a valve off?  is it suitable for cyclists with weak, tyrannosaurus rex-like arms?

    been curious about this pump for a while (as well as the two-stage variant) but reviews are all over the map.  and i trust the opinion of a velominatus over that of your average amazon reviewer, so i’m curious what your take is.

  17. @chiasticon I will have to have the Blackburn “field test” in the lovely indoors before I hit the road with it. It was FREE, but that does not mean that I intend to use it — or prefer it. We will see (soon).

  18. 4:45 am, 3.5 miles into my ride found me by the side of a dark and deserted Wisconsin highway, thinking about this article.  I had hit a decent sized rock “just so,” and my rear tube blew apart (I have a bright light, but when you’re going at the speed of awesome, sometimes you don’t see those suckers until it’s too late).  After changing out the tube, I went to screw my chuck onto the CO2 cannister, only to watch in horror as it immediately began spitting out gas.  I furiously attempted to close the valve on the chuck but it just spun uselessly–I realized with horror that it was fucked.  By the time I got it on the stem there was nothing left.  And that was my only cannister.  Since I was in the middle of nowhere and it was 4:45 in the morning, calling the wife and waking the kids was not an option.  I had no choice but to ride slowly home on the flat at 10 kph, picking my way around gravel and bumps in the road.  Thank goodness I wasn’t further away.

    I had a bontrage air rush or something like that.  Guy at the LBS said it was bombproof.  Got it 3 months ago and used it only twice, and it is already broken.  I still prefer using a chuck for its speed, especially on dark cold mornings, but after this morning I’ll definitely be doubling up in case disaster strikes again.

  19. @unversio How is the Lezyne Pressure Drive, can I ask? Did you get the medium or small? I was considering the medium but obvs need to check it won’t poke out of jersey pocket etc. Got to keep the mouse in the house, as they say.

  20. @blackpooltower I will verify the size (think it is 9 inches). Honestly I keep grabbing the old items and have not switched. I planned on using it thru the winter. I will start using it this Saturday and let you know how it goes. I like most everything about it though. Wanting to find a sleeve to keep sweat from messing with the shell. It did come with a mount for the frame, but I am resisting that.

  21. @unversio Thanks! Be great to know if it’s worth the $

  22. @blackpooltower

    @unversio How is the Lezyne Pressure Drive, can I ask? Did you get the medium or small? I was considering the medium but obvs need to check it won’t poke out of jersey pocket etc. Got to keep the mouse in the house, as they say.

    i don’t mind the pump-sticking-out look. namely, because the Lezyne road drive medium is too long to not stick out of any jersey pocket. it’s so good, i don’t really care if people can see i’m carrying it.  besides, it’s not like i’m strapping it to my bike or anything:

  23. @chiasticon Ha! I think we’re filing that under “deliberately provocative”.

  24. So I have been riding for years and have only experienced one on the road flat and I was only 100 yards from my house.  Well yesterday I was leaving work (via cycle) and had just dawned my kit when someone asked me what was in my pocket. I pulled out my setup which included a tube, chuck, patches, tire levers, and single CO2 for him to view.  Well I departed and as I should have known 20 minutes into my ride I had a flat.  My first time using a chuck and all went well, I live in a desert no freezing problems here, and I made it home no problem.

    Here in lies my problem….I only have the one CO2 cartridge that came with my chuck.  So I went into work the next morning feeling slightly naked with #5 in mind and all went well.  While at work, I work in the field, I thought I would drop by my local shop and stock up on some CO2…. to my dismay a sign hung in the window…. closed for the 17th and 18th for interbike convention in Las Vegas.  Good for them!  The shop respected their guys enough to leave no man behind!  Bad for me as I was now going to have to apply #5 once again.

    Needless to say I have been researching mini pumps to cure my ales and here I am.

    Pump for me!

  25. As usual, much appreciated attention that has been paid to one of my favorite subjects…bicycle pumps. I have always(45 years now) carried a REAL frame fit pump and am asked regularly to loan it on a ride to those carrying gas, mini pumps, or no air delivering device whatsoever. I want to ride and keep on riding. Thus, standard 32 hole, 3x, french made rims, and medium grade, user serviceable hubs. I’m done with tubulars now since ’88, and every custom frame I’ve had built( needless to say Ti or steel, no plastic bikes thanks) has installed a pump peg (no straps please), or it gets shipped right back to the builder who forgot it to be re-brazed, and re-painted. All I ask is that if you ask to use my pump, you let me ask you if you know how to use it, or let me pump your tire myself so that I may continue down the road. And don’t leave your inner tube or CO2 cartridges on the side of road. Thank you.

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