Review: Lezyne Alloy Dirt Floor Drive pump
Lezyne’s Alloy Dirt Floor Drive pump is a tool with a purpose. That purpose? Seating and inflating tubeless mountain bike tires. As anyone who’s tried to get a reluctant tubeless mountain bike tire to seat using a floor pump knows, that job can require a lot of air in a small amount of time- more than most floor pumps can deliver. While a half-decent excuse is all most guys need to run down to Sears for an air compressor, Lezyne’s big-bore Dirt Floor Drive series of pumps are an appealing alternative. Hit the jump to find out why…
In order to provide the air volume that tubeless tire seating requires, Lezyne have increased not only the pump barrel’s bore, but also the hose and internals to minimize air flow restrictions. In practice, this has allowed me to seat all of the true tubeless and most of the tubeless-ready tires I’ve tried. Why use a pump when, in my case, there’s a perfectly good air compressor really close by? In short, because the compressor is awfully noisy in my small workshop and, by the time it’s been switched on and reached pressure I could have used the Dirt Floor Drive to seat the tire. Besides, nobody likes getting kicked out of bed in the middle of the night to turn off an air compressor they’d left on.
The middle of three Dirt Floor Drive models, the tested $85 Alloy Dirt Floor Drive has a nice wood handle and polished aluminum barrel- a step up from the $75 Classic Dirt Floor Drive’s steel barrel and a step down from the blingtastic $110 CNC Dirt Floor Drive, which has still more machined aluminum hardware and an aluminum handle. For 2012, all three use Lezyne’s presta/Schraeder reversible ABS Flip-Thread Chuck and come with a hose that is long enough to comfortably reach the wheels of bicycles mounted in workstands. The gauge is located at the substantial cast base- not great for legibility, but probably the best choice given its size and heft. With the large barrel entirely unsuited to road bike use, the gauge only goes up to 70psi, making small pressure differences easy to read.
A big reason that the Lezyne has been so eagerly adopted as part of my workshop is that it’s plain satisfying to use. The polished aluminum makes it look like a serious piece of equipment and the stained wood handle is not only pretty but a pleasure to hold. The height of the pump is just right, allowing average-height adults to manage full strokes without uncomfortable bending- and making shorter pumps feel oddly child-sized by comparison.
Back in April’s initial review of the Alloy Dirt Floor Drive pump, I complained about the 2011 Flip-Thread Chuck’s tendency to either thread tubeless valves through their locknut and into the rim and, when removing the chuck, inadvertently removing valve cores (and with them the tire’s contents). Properly tightening locknuts addresses the first problem and, for 2012, Lezyne’s new Air Bleed System (ABS) chucks address the second. Now shipping with all Dirt Floor Drive pumps and pictured above, the ABS Flip-Thread Chuck allows the rider to bleed pressure from the pump’s hose after inflation. This reduces the amount of pressure on the seals and prevents the chuck from unthreading valve cores. Hooray!
The ABS Flip-Thread Chuck is never going to be the fastest to use (oh! those valuable seconds!), but it makes up for it in simplicity and durability. The $4 Speed Chuck (pictured below, on the gold Flip Thread Chuck), which is also shipping with new Lezyne pumps, is faster but can be fiddly and leaky in use- so I tend to leave it on the bench.
At $85, the Alloy Dirt Floor Drive is awfully close to the price of an inexpensive consumer air compressor, which makes it a hard sell on paper. After working with it for nearly a year, I can speak to its durability- in fact my local shop uses Lezyne pumps on their floor and in their workshop because of the Flip-Thread Chucks’ resistance to sealant fouling. Unlike an air compressor, the Dirt Floor Drive is also easy to take to the races- and is miles better than small car-oriented portable air compressors. When rain means it’s time to switch a 24-hour team’s bikes to mud tires, the Alloy Dirt Floor Drive could almost pay for itself in CO2 cartridges. Leaving a (nice to have but not essential) tire bleed valve the only thing that I can think to wish for, Lezyne have done a very good job with the updated Alloy Dirt Floor Drive: it’s a well made tool that does exactly what it’s meant to. And it looks darn good doing it.