The Kuwahara Hirame pump head

Reverence: Kuwahara Hirame Pump Head

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I pump my tires up every single day, and every day it is the only part of Cycling I don’t like. The act of pumping while holding the pump in place is itself a bit of a bummer, especially if you are trying to do it in your Cycling shoes because your brain is too small to contemplate doing it while you’re still wearing your Adilettes. But even under the best circumstances of pumping your tires with rubber soles, it is still just pumping. Up and down, up and down. Is the dial pointed at the right spot? Up and down, up and down. Yuck.

Ignoring all that, the worst part of pumping tires is actually connecting the pump to the valve stem in the first place. My old Silca pumps would always pop off under pressure. Infuriating; if there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s an inanimate object that refuses to obey my strictest orders. At one point I had a velcro strap with a hole in it that I wrapped around the tire to hold it on for me. Greatest pump ever, my ass. Other lever pump heads are so tight you’re likely to tear off your valve stem in the process of connecting or loosening it. Lezyne has the best mainstream solution with the screw-on head, combined with a lovely air-release button you can use to maximum woopie-cushion effect. If, however, you use valve extenders like I do, then it’s maddening to get a good seal on the devil and eventually you lose your patience and ruin the threads, making it as good as a Silca pump head.

Enter the Kuwahara Hirame pump head. @Oli flashed a photo of his a while back and I became immediately obsessed. I was also amazed at how expensive they were, which only served to deepen the fascination. Amazon’s checkout is so easy that I don’t even remember placing the order; all I remember is putting it in my shopping cart. Thusly I was amazed to find one of these little babies in my mailbox a while later.

We Keepers have a pact never to post a Reverence within 6 months of owning a product, but pacts are made to be broken. This thing is insane; I’ve only had it for about a month, and I’m in love with thing. I occasionally walk into the workshop just to look at it. Even when I have nothing whatsoever to pump up, I’ll just flip the lever back and forth and hold it in my hand a bit.

I don’t even hate pumping up my tires anymore. Connecting it is as easy as can be, it holds tight without stressing the valve, and it comes off just as simply.

Just, awesome.

// Accessories and Gear // Reverence // Technology

  1. “I don’t even remember placing the order”

    A good trippel will do that.

    Do you not worry about the pressure popping the hose off like so many champagne corks? Ring clamps are your friend, so long as they’re color coordinated I guess.




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  2. @Owen

    “I don’t even remember placing the order”

    A good trippel will do that.

    Do you not worry about the pressure popping the hose off like so many champagne corks? Ring clamps are your friend, so long as they’re color coordinated I guess.

    Haven’t worried yet; it was a real fucker to get on and there are some solid ribs. If it comes off, I will add clamps. Until then, I will embrace the clean aesthetic.




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  3. Fair enough. Live dangerously. Until such time as I need valve extenders I’m going to stick with the Lezyne complete with analog dial, thank you very much.




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  4. I too love my Hirame head. It’s the perfect blend of light but secure grip, and so easy to use.




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  5. I’m on the road to getting one – have a high pressure pump on the way, once that financial lump has been swallowed, I’ll be tossing up whether to get a hiram or the Silca hero.




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  6. I’m falling out of love (if I ever was in) with my joe blow from topeak. It’s too wobbly and I have to bleed the tube for it to take, which can mean 2 or 3 attempts.

    Therefore thinking new pump and this yoke to correct.




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  7. I’ve owned a Hirame pump head since 2009, I had to import it from Japan back then and it was indeed an expensive but beautiful thing. It was the go to device for track sprinters and especially for inflating disc wheels and deep sections with valve extenders. It’s still attached to a trusted Axiom Compress Pro 260 track pump that is no longer available in the UK. Getting a Sonderklasse tub to 240psi was well achievable with this set up.

    I was told by an old track hand that the Hirame heads were so expensive because some old guy in Japan only handmade 10 a week. He’s a craftsman. There are copies out there and the club has one, but it’s crap in comparison. The Hirame pump head, much like my Chris King headset which has moved from bike to bike in the past 10 years, will outlive me.




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  8. If, however, you use valve extenders like I do, then it’s maddening to get a good seal on the devel and eventually you lose your patience and ruin the threads, making it as good as a Silca pump head.

    Devel? Is that a typo or a cycling word I’ve never heard of. I hope it’s a typo. The different parts of a inflator stem deserve their own names, for sure.




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  9. @Oli

    I too love my Hirame head. It’s the perfect blend of light but secure grip, and so easy to use.

    I am sold and will want to find one directly from the manufacturer — any leads to help send me off in the right direction??




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  10. Never mind.




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  11. @unversio

    Google, genius.

    @Gianni

    If, however, you use valve extenders like I do, then it’s maddening to get a good seal on the devel and eventually you lose your patience and ruin the threads, making it as good as a Silca pump head.

    Devel? Is that a typo or a cycling word I’ve never heard of. I hope it’s a typo. The different parts of a inflator stem deserve their own names, for sure.

    FFS. Typo.




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  12. @frank

    @unversio

    Google, genius.

    O, it was an impulse statement — fuck it.




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  13. Don’t like pumping up your tires? Lordy, it’s the first open door to obsessive compulsiveness: “shall the front tire be 92 or 95 psi today?” I myself have a Serfas pump which has provided a nice price to warranty ratio to warrant a second one (under warranty!). My Irish-German cheapness (they’re cheap right?) has kept me from springing for that Sica model which requires a second mortgage (that and my fear of the VMH who occasionally reviews the books).

    On a side note, I rode our local MS-150 today (tomorrow is canceled on account of “torrential rain” FFS) but I thought of a previous post by Brett asking how to deal with a guy who was otherwise cool but was a rolling rule violation (except “Bob” today was a complete douche bag and looks like a gigantic piece of upside down candy corn which has been vomited onto a bicycle, but otherwise is “cool”). My Asperger’s can sometimes be hard to keep under wraps.




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  14. Just ordered one of these pump heads from “Track Supermarket” for $55 US dollars along with some replacement rubber gaskets at 10 bucks for 3 . Thanks so much for this article Frank as I also pump up my tubs every day with half assed pump heads am very much looking forwards to a hassle free one .




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  15. @steelhead

    Just ordered one of these pump heads from “Track Supermarket” for $55 US dollars along with some replacement rubber gaskets at 10 bucks for 3 . Thanks so much for this article Frank as I also pump up my tubs every day with half assed pump heads am very much looking forward to a hassle free one .




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  16. I left a Hirame head sitting on my desk at work for a couple weeks while it waited for a new pump. Didn’t think anything of it at the time, but apparently it made the wrong impression on some (non cycling) colleagues and clients. Finally twigged when one asked about the fancy hash pipe…




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  17. @frank

    I fear I may have opened a new level of expenses, but have you considered Silca’s valve-extenders? These things do two things to your bike:

    1. Neither leak nor unthread (even with Lezyne heads), which is their primary purpose other than extending
    2. Obey the Principle of Silence better than any other extender on the market thanks to elastomers on the ends

    I’ve transferred mine twice already and they still hold function.




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  18. Adilettes? Shower shoes are for wearing in the shower. I believe they fell out of favor/favour as pre/apre racewear last century. For fuck’s sake, color matched/team-issue running shoes are now correct.

    And the socks and sandals look was always too granola and tie-dye anyway.




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  19. @Joe

    More than one way to skin a cat.




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  20. @frank

    very nice!




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  21. Well, I have a Specialized (GASP!!) HP floor pump. The head on that is best I have come across. There is a lever to compress the gasket which prevents it blowing off but I am yet to need to use it. Two years of daily pumping up (some tyres I push to 120psi) it’s easy on, easy off without use of the lever. I did have some valve extenders that the head would occasioually leak air with (not blow off) and they required closing of the lever but I got rid of those.




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  22. @Puffy

    Well, I have a Specialized (GASP!!) HP floor pump. The head on that is best I have come across. There is a lever to compress the gasket which prevents it blowing off but I am yet to need to use it. Two years of daily pumping up (some tyres I push to 120psi) it’s easy on, easy off without use of the lever. I did have some valve extenders that the head would occasioually leak air with (not blow off) and they required closing of the lever but I got rid of those.

    The Speshy Air Tool pumps with the 3″ gauges and the big block pump heads work as well as any pump I’ve used. I recently picked one up when I learned of the 3″ gauge. That’s what I wanted. The fact that the head works as well as it does is a big plus.




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  23. I immediately leaped upon this new piece of bling feeling that something like this would obviously make me climb better…..I have just looked at the price……my piggy bank is not full enough yet, rest assured it goes on to the long list of shiny bits and pieces I will buy one day!




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  24. In defense of the “greatest pump ever”, if you have the Silca chuck that works with Schrader and Presta, just set up the chuck for Schrader, then screw in a Presta/Schrader adapter into the opening of the chuck. Then just thread the whole chuck down onto your Presta valves and pump away. It will never pop off under pressure, the rubber innards of the chuck will never wear out, and the adapter fits tight enough in the chuck that it will not unthread from the chuck when you are removing the chuck from the valve. Just a little tip…




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  25. I try to make all bike purchases while under the influence of something, thus making the money I’m spending easier to let go of and making the arrival a surprise since it’ll slip my mind that I ordered stuff.

    I’m sticking with my Park Tool pump until is dies, then we’ll see. You know what is more annoying than the pump head bursting off as you get up to the desired PSI? When the inner tube, no matter how far/not far you slip the head on, hisses out air as you pump, so it’s a desperate race. Fack, my commuter has this issue on both tubes! Cheap tubes I wonder?

    Also, I recently received a compressor. I have yet to find a head to use with it for Presta valves. Anyone have good suggestions on those? I’ll use it mainly to seat tubeless tires for cross. Thanks!




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  26. Ron, haven’t tried it, but this looks decent: http://www.prestaflator.com/




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  27. @rfreese888

    I’m falling out of love (if I ever was in) with my joe blow from topeak. It’s too wobbly and I have to bleed the tube for it to take, which can mean 2 or 3 attempts.

    Therefore thinking new pump and this yoke to correct.

    I have a JoeBlow and it goes ok for me, no wobble. I know what you mean about bleeding the valve but I’m fine with that; adds a little to the whole ceremony.

    @ Frank – I add air before each ride and thoroughly enjoy the process. Combine it with a tyre & light check. Mind you, if I was wearing awful plastic slippers it would probably not be so much fun. Crocs at a pinch.




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  28. Please don’t mistake the Hirame copies that are available for the genuine article. They are utterly shit and deeply frustrating to use – my mate’s one refuses to stay attached under even the lightest pressure.




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  29. @PT

    @ Frank – I add air before each ride and thoroughly enjoy the process.

    Totally agree. It’s part of the pre-ride routine and subject to its own little nuances and OCD touches.

    Rear first, undo the valve, bleed a little air, attach the head, pump to the designated pressure (always in psi for tarmac, bar for pave and never, ever kPa), release the hose pressure, unscrew the head, repeat for the front before donning one shoes, cap, helmet and eyewear.

    Only then should one commence the serious business of pushing down on the pedals. We after all talking about the most important of contact points.

    It is possible that a tool can be so beautiful so as to distract from the process and lessen the overall experience.




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  30. @Chris

    @PT

    @ Frank – I add air before each ride and thoroughly enjoy the process.

    Totally agree. It’s part of the pre-ride routine and subject to its own little nuances and OCD touches.

    Rear first, undo the valve, bleed a little air, attach the head, pump to the designated pressure (always in psi for tarmac, bar for pave and never, ever kPa), release the hose pressure, unscrew the head, repeat for the front before donning one shoes, cap, helmet and eyewear.

    Only then should one commence the serious business of pushing down on the pedals. We after all talking about the most important of contact points.

    It is possible that a tool can be so beautiful so as to distract from the process and lessen the overall experience.

    Yup, it’s always rear tire first, then front for me. Then bottles in cages. Then shoes, load pockets, helmet, sunglasses, gloves. My routine is so second nature that I don’t even really think about it which is why it’s good to have a routine – that way you don’t forget something and I can focus on the important thing – the ride.




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  31. @wiscot

    @Chris

    @PT

    @ Frank – I add air before each ride and thoroughly enjoy the process.

    Totally agree. It’s part of the pre-ride routine and subject to its own little nuances and OCD touches.

    Rear first, undo the valve, bleed a little air, attach the head, pump to the designated pressure (always in psi for tarmac, bar for pave and never, ever kPa), release the hose pressure, unscrew the head, repeat for the front before donning one shoes, cap, helmet and eyewear.

    Only then should one commence the serious business of pushing down on the pedals. We after all talking about the most important of contact points.

    It is possible that a tool can be so beautiful so as to distract from the process and lessen the overall experience.

    Yup, it’s always rear tire first, then front for me. Then bottles in cages. Then shoes, load pockets, helmet, sunglasses, gloves. My routine is so second nature that I don’t even really think about it which is why it’s good to have a routine – that way you don’t forget something and I can focus on the important thing – the ride.

    Bidons are an earlier part of the process, they go on the bike when it goes outside and the Garmin is switched on to find satellites. Gloves go on earlier, much earlier, they’re Rapha’s perforated leather Grand Tour mitts and are too gorgeous not to wear as much as is possible.




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  32. TrackSupermarket has the Hirame pump head for $55. Of course, if you want to keep your Silca all Silca, there’s the new Hirame clone ….. The Silca Hiro! It’ll cost you about $100.




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  33. I just got the Silca Hiro head. It does take a little practice taking off. When you pop it off, the valve is open so you have to be quick to close the valve and stop the escaping air. Or am I doing it wrong? I like that it has a Schraeder butt end so it screws right into the pump hose end of my existing Silca hose, or it can fit in an existing chuck.




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  34. re: greatest pump ever… I’m thinking you’re not referring to the silca super pista ultimate; because the valve holds very well with only a press, comes off well with only a pull, and the pump is very easy to keep stable while wearing road cleats. in fact, the base was designed specifically for that purpose.




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  35. Hi Frank

    I purchased a Hirame pump head having recently been introduced to (and impressed by) one on a trip to Japan, but am having some difficulty finding a pump hose that will fit – the diameter seems too large for standard pump hoses. I have been to six bike stores in Singapore with no joy. Any guidance would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Ben




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  36. @Ben

    I’ve found the stock, modern Silca tube worked just fine with my Hirame pump head.

    I continue to use my 22yr old Silca SuperPista and I”m deeply satisfied with it and its stock presta adapter. It is, hands down, the best money I’ve ever spent on a tool. As a father of 4, however, my presta’s are outnumbered by shraeder’s 5-1.

    After 4 shraeder pumps gone bad over the past 12 years – years of abject frustration with crappy pumps for shraeder heads, I’m now set for life. I picked up a Hirame and paired it with an 80’s vintage Silca track pump I bought off Ebay for $20. The hirame head with a shraeder gasket is a masterpiece. I wish I’d spent the money on it 12 years ago.




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