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Inflating tyres is just part of being a cyclist. Thankfully pumps are rather refined and the task is hardly tedious.
Despite that, there are options to save you from having to pump at all. Battery-operated electric inflators are one such product and have long been used by race mechanics for easy inflation and quick pressure checks. Simply push a button, make a little noise, then ride.
Fumpa is an Australian company that offers the world’s only bicycle-specific electric air pump. I first reviewed Fumpa’s first-attempt a few years back, and now, the company has updated and expanded its range with two new models.
[ct_story_highlights]Fumpa||Features: Digital pressure gauge, 120psi maximum pressure, fill a tyre with the press of a button.|| Weight: 380g ||Size: 42 x 73 x 87mm||Price: US$179 / AU$249||Highs: Accurate digital pressure gauge, quick and easy to use, ideally compact, easy to recharge.|| Lows: Noise, battery indicator not linear, no good for tubeless, price.||miniFumpa||Features: Battery-powered mini pump or CO2 substitute, 120psi maximum pressure, fills a tyre with the press of a button in under 40 seconds.||Weight: 182g ||Size: 32 x 56 x 68mm||Price: US$139 / AU$189||Highs: Easiest and quickest mini pump going, impressively compact.||Lows: Requires regular recharging, no battery fill warning, no bike mount, not water resistant. [/ct_story_highlights]
The larger of the two is the Fumpa, an update on the original Fumpa I reviewed previously, that offers a digital pressure gauge and more kick. When space is at a premium, the miniFumpa is designed to replace a mini pump and/or CO2 inflator. Both models feature a brushless electric motor, and Lithium-ion battery self-contained inside a compact and quality anodised aluminium housing. And they’re both rechargeable with an included Micro-USB cable.
So what’s the point of these? And do they actually provide an advantage over manual pumps? Well yes, sorta, maybe …
Having used the original version for a couple of years, I see the Fumpa as an accurate digital pressure gauge that can also top up tyres. There aren’t too many floor pumps I trust for accurate pressure reading (though the Silca Pista Digital is one I do), and so I’d often inflate and then use a separate gauge to dial in pressure. The Fumpa does it in one and does it quickly.
Sized to fit in your hand and weighing 380g, the Fumpa pump was recently updated with a slightly larger case and a rounded profile. The motor now offers a more noticeable kick, and with that, it’s faster to inflate and more efficient on battery usage too.
My complaints with the first generation were related to the somewhat proprietary charger required, a lack of remaining battery life indication, and an obnoxious noise that would prevent me from using it in the early mornings.
Fumpa took those complaints to heart, and it’s now recharged with a Micro-USB cable, mitigating the risk of a flat battery when travelling. Similarly, when you first turn on the unit, it flashes the percentage of remaining battery, giving you a clear idea of when it’s due to be charged.
Where previously I chose not to travel with the Fumpa as I had to take the external wall charger, I can now comfortably say this is simply the best travel pump option going.
The stronger motor on the new Fumpa makes quick work of filling tyres and pushing high pressures. It took just 19.4 seconds to inflate a 700x25c tyre to 80psi, and 29 seconds to inflate a far higher volume 650Bx1.9in tyre to 35psi. With a full battery, the Fumpa was able to inflate that same 700x25c tyre from flat to 80psi a total of seven times and managed to inflate the 650B tyre to 35psi five times before cutting out. And 80psi is hardly stressing the Fumpa, which is capable of a 120psi maximum.
The digital pressure gauge remains accurate, measuring 34psi at an actual 35psi, and 77psi at an actual 80psi. In my opinion, that level of accuracy is rarely seen with floor pump gauges, and even most digital pressure gauges are rarely close to this.
Continuing from the first generation, the aluminium press-fit valve head remains on its short swivel hose, it’s easy to use and creates a reliable seal. Out of the box, it’s set up for Presta valves, but you can flip the internals for Schrader (car) valve use. And if you want, Fumpa offers a more traditional floor pump head and extended hose as an aftermarket accessory (AU$25), it simply clips in place of the existing hose (no tools required).
If it isn’t obvious, the Fumpa is simply amazing for checking tyre pressures or topping up lost air. By contrast, a floor pump backfills the hose when you first connect it, and so even if your tyre pressure was right, you’ll still need to do a stroke or two to get it back there. For the Fumpa, you simply press it onto the valve, squeeze the button and go. It normally takes a couple of seconds to bring a tyre back to its ideal pressure, and in this capacity, the Fumpa’s battery will last weeks between charges.
Admittedly, it isn’t perfect. The noise generated remains the biggest barrier to acceptance. I measured the Fumpa at 99db (measured at the device), whereas my electric blender produced 88db. That’s a real racket for a product you’ll likely be using early in the morning. Additionally, the battery life indicator isn’t linear and can be a little misleading, meaning the unit will power down shortly after it shows 25% battery remaining. And don’t forget to turn it off after use — the Fumpa does not have an auto-off function.
The Fumpa pumps air straight from the motor to the hose, so there’s no pressurised cannister like you’d find in an air compressor. Because of this, the Fumpa isn’t the right tool for seating tubeless tyres. Sure, some of the latest tubeless tyres which can be fitted with a mini pump will work just fine with the Fumpa; but in most cases, it’ll lack the needed oomph to kick the tyre bead into the rim socket.
And for those hoping to keep it plugged into an external battery or wall socket and use it for professional purposes, you’ll probably need to think again. It will only run off its battery power and the produced vibration isn’t ideal for repeated and continuous use, anyhow.
Weighing 182g and not much larger than two CO2 canisters, the miniFumpa is designed to replace a mini pump and/or CO2. However, where I’m fairly sold on the purpose of the Fumpa, the miniFumpa carries more obvious compromises.
The miniFumpa is a lot like a two-year-old. It’s small and cute, but also noisy and will crap itself without warning. Ok, that last bit isn’t entirely true — I managed to inflate the same 700x25c tyre somewhat impressively three times to 80psi and a fourth time to 54psi – and it kicks in that 80psi pressure in just 40 seconds, way, way faster and easier than what’s possible with any mini pump on the market. For example, I’m currently testing mini pumps, and the most efficient on test still takes 117 strokes to 80psi, and requires a fair bit of effort in the process.
Once recharged, the miniFumpa managed to inflate the higher volume 650Bx1.9in tyre twice to 35psi and cut out at 25psi on the third inflation. However, and somewhat obviously, if the big version can’t pop on a tubeless tyre, nor can the miniFumpa.
The miniFumpa’s far more compact form is achieved through a smaller motor, reduced battery, no pressure gauge and a small integrated Presta-only nozzle. There’s also no on-off switch, rather you hold down the single sealed button to get the motor going.
The lack of an attachment hose doesn’t stop the Fumpa from fitting a Presta valve nicely, but it does mean that the heat produced goes directly to the aluminium nozzle, and from there, the valve stem. By 80psi, it’s almost too hot to touch, and some of the heat transfers onto the valve too – not great. Then again, you can get cold burns from using CO2, too.
With no pressure gauge, you’ll want to keep a close check on the firmness of your tyres, especially given that the miniFumpa won’t stop itself until it hits 120psi and unlike a mini pump, you won’t have a sore arm to tell you it’s time.
It’s obviously faster and easier to use than a mini pump, but Fumpa claims the miniFumpa is also better than wasting CO2 canisters. Sure, it’s almost as fast and almost as compact as CO2. You won’t freeze your tubeless tyre sealant when using the mini. And where a mistake with CO2 will lead to a wasted canister and no inflation, the Fumpa will let you try again. However, you’d have to suffer a number of flat tyres in order to justify an electronic device with a lithium-ion battery being more environmentally friendly than a handful of CO2 canisters.
Without an on-bike bracket available, the miniFumpa must be carried by other means. The shape is suitable for a saddle bag or jersey pocket, but I’d be very fearful of landing on it in a freak accident. If a shock pump can paralyse a person, then the blocky shape and unyielding structure of this could surely cause harm.
I don’t mean to be all hate, but if you get a CO2 canister or even a mini pump wet, it’ll still work afterwards. The same can’t be guaranteed for the Fumpa, and either sweating onto it or getting caught in a rain-soaked ride won’t do wonders for it. Fumpa specifically says its products are not weather-proof.
And my final issue with the Fumpa Mini is a doozy. Certain countries require Lithium-ion-equipped electronics to auto-discharge for battery protection. Given the battery is designed to deplete, the Australian company suggests charging the mini once a fortnight, or thereabouts. That doesn’t bother me for the regular Fumpa – I’m using it multiple times a week and it has a battery indicator – but the miniFumpa lacks the latter and is likely something to be tucked away into a saddlebag or backpack and forgotten about until you desperately need it. And for that, life’s too short to have to worry about topping up my emergency mini pump.
My opinion is that If you’re getting so many flats that an electric pump makes sense, then you’re better off investing in more appropriate (or new) tyres, revised pressures and perhaps a tubeless setup.
One winner, one loser
Quite clearly, I like the larger Fumpa. It’s a trustworthy digital pressure gauge that inflates your tyres – that’s just rad.
For those who don’t care about tyre pressure and have a workable floor pump, then you’ll likely find no love here. But for those that are in the habit of inflating a tyre, and then using a separate gauge to confirm a pressure, the Fumpa will make things better. And it simply fits into a backpack or under a car seat, too.
Even when compared to a floor pump with a highly accurate gauge, the Fumpa is still quicker, easier and more convenient to use. Assuming you’re allowed to make noise.
Without a pressure gauge, the miniFumpa lacks one of the key things I love about the larger version. Some users will love what it offers, and that’s fine, but personally, it reminds me of an urban legend (unfortunately it’s not true) about the early space race.
The Americans spent a huge amount of money designing a pen that worked reliably in zero gravity while the Soviet Union used a pencil. I’ll stick with the latter, or in this case, a mini pump or CO2.