When loading up for a recent two week road trip, I eyed the small army of pumps in the workshop- and reached for Topeak’s full-sized Joe Blow Pro. Even among high-volume, tubeless seating pumps, gleaming silver objects d’art, and admirably compact travel models, the unassuming Topeak was an easy choice. That’s what eighteen months of hassle-free service earns. Come into the back to find out why…
Nominally a $100 pump (street prices seem to be closer to $75) and falling into Topeak’s “High Performance” category, one would expect the Joe Blow Pro to be a full-featured pump. And it is. The aluminum barrel is taller than many entry-level pumps and the feet bigger, making it easier for adults to use. The 160psi/11 bar gauge is located at the top of the barrel, making it easy to read, and benefits from a bleed valve that makes getting tubeless tires to the right pressure after seating and easy process. It is protected against the inevitable fall by a rubber trim band, which must work (seeing as the gauge still does). The padded handle is nice and wide for grownup hands and doesn’t flex like lesser pumps’ can.
Topeak’s dual mode SmartHead is easy to use: just press it on to either Presta or Schrader valves, flip the lever, and pump. It never seems to leak (even at funny angles) and releases easily. Most importantly, it has yet to be fouled by the tire sealant that desert living demands on all bikes. Ball and air mattress adapters are included (and have a nice little home on the hose)- but were quickly lost. The generously long hose’s high attachment at the gauge makes it easy to reach bikes in the workstand as well.
The polished mid-sized barrel strikes a good balance between high pressure road needs and mountain tires’ high volumes. The Joe Blow Pro stands less of a chance at seating tubeless tires than mountain-specific pumps, but I have seated plenty of friendly combinations without reaching for the air compressor.
At the end of the day, the Joe Blow Pro is the easiest to use and most reliable pump that I’ve owned. It’s not inexpensive and may not have the sex appeal of some of its competitors, but when you change tires and check pressures as much as we do, that’s not what counts. What counts is that the Topeak it works, reliably and without complaint- and that’s the reason that I almost always reach for it first. And why it gets to go on road trips.