Hands On: Air Support Tools From Bontrager, Super Charge Your Tires
If you’re going to ride bicycles, you’re going to need some pumps. Sure, you can get by by going to gas stations, borrowing friends’ or your shop’s tools, but that will get old in a hurry. Fortunately, there are a ton of options out there including the latest crop of shiny air pressure adjusters from Bontrager. Offering pumps for portability or permanently stationed in your garage, the Super Charger floor pump and Air support HP Pro hand pump look good on the outside – so how do they work on the inside?
Cycle through for more details.
As Bontrager’s top of the line floor pump, the newest iteration features an aluminum construction with a sturdy trianglular base. The pump has a long stroke, but doesn’t seem to really push air until about halfway through. Because of this, the pump is really more suited to higher pressures as it keeps the amount of force needed to pump past 100 psi down to a minimum. The pump works fine for larger volume mountain bike tires, but there are other pumps that push more air, faster.
At the top of the pump is very large, easily readable 2.5″ gauge with gradients every 5 psi up to the 160 psi max. In addition to being easy to read, the gauge seems fairly durable. This is especially important for pumps with high mounted gauges as the pumps tend to fall directly on the gauge when knocked over.The pump features a large, ergonomic handle with co-molded rubber grips to keep things comfortable, while providing a perch for the pump head when not in use.
Equipped with an Auto Select head, the pump will fit on presta or schrader valves automatically with the flip of the locking lever. In this case the lever is quite large offering a good amount of leverage – though if you have a tight fit with whatever wheel you’re working with, it may be a little on the big side (kid’s tires or stroller wheels come to mind). The head has a built in pressure relief valve that will allow you to easily take out pressure if you added too much. Attached at the end of a 45″ rubber hose, the Super Charger offers a long reach if the bike is in the stand or on the rack.
No matter how good the base is, as mentioned, you’re still going to inadvertently knock over your pump but Bontrager’s base is pretty good. Built with 3 lobes, each with a rubber gripper, the sturdy aluminum base gives plenty of support when getting on it at the handle.
At $109.99 the Super Charger is on the higher end of pump prices, but with rebuildable internals it seems like a solidly built pump that should last. Mountain bikers and fatbikers might want to check out pumps that are higher volume, but if you inflate both road and mountain bikes on a regular basis, the Super Charger has proven to be easy to use, and quite durable.
At this point it seems like most pump manufacturers have a hand pump design with a flexible hose. That’s for a good reason – they work, and place less stress on the valve reducing the chance of breaking the valve during vigorous inflating. Bontrager’s Air Support HP pro is a high pressure hand pump aimed at the road segment with two sizes, L for frames, and S for jersey pockets.
The S is pictured here, and houses the hose inside the barrel. When you’re ready to use it, unthread the braided hose from the barrel and extend. The hose is captured in the pump, so there is no need to thread it onto the pump. The chuck is then threaded on the valve (presta only), so you can pump away. The S has a pretty short stroke, but pushes enough air that you won’t be there all day. It’s one of the better working smaller road pumps that I’ve tried, and to this day hasn’t unthreaded the valve core of any tubes or valves. The pump is capable of 120 psi, of which around 100 psi is realistic with moderate effort.
Obviously, anyone looking for presta and schrader abilities should look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a small pump that packs a punch for your jersey pocket, the $44.99 Air Support HP Pro S is one to consider. Each pump also includes a mounting bracket for under your bottle cage if you would rather mount it on the bike instead.
Finally, if you’re in need of some tire levers, Bontrager’s lever features an angled tip to get under tight beads. The levers snap together for carrying, and have a spoke hook on one end – pretty standard for most tire levers. These aren’t my favorite tire levers to date, but they’re certainly not the worst. One thing is for sure – if you break these, you’re probably doing it wrong. The levers feel very stout, and after changing a number of tight, tubeless tires, look like new. Bontrager levers retail for $3.99 a pair.