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View Full Version : Review: Crank Brothers & Topeak Morph mini-pumps


Alan
05-22-2011, 11:08 PM
A couple years ago, getting back onto bikes, I decided I wanted a mini-pump for roadside repairs. I liked the looks of the Crank Brothers Pro (http://crankbrothers.com/pumps.php) pump (I think it's that model but it doesn't mention a model on the pump itself) and its adverts sounded good. It is small, light, nicely made of aluminum and claims to get way more pressure than I need; 120 PSI. It fits Presta and Schrader, has a built-in gauge and a switch for high volume or high pressure (internal valves). It has kept me from walking twice and it helped another rider keep going during a Sunday Parkway two years ago, so I'm glad I got it...BUT! I can only get about 40 PSI out of it, maybe 50 if I spent ten minutes pumping as hard as I possibly could (I am neither ape nor wimp). That's enough for my balloon tires (barely) and many off-roaders, but roadies could hardly limp home on that. The hi pressure/hi volume switch seems like a bit of a gimmick. Maybe it helps slightly (engineers, feel free to explain) but even in the hi pressure setting it takes a lot of force to pump up 40 PSI, and even in the hi volume setting it takes many strokes to get to partial inflation. The clamp that holds the pump to the valve stem is a clever design (all integrated into the pump, you twist the pump body while the inflator is pushed over the valve stem) but it is awkward to get a secure, well-seated grasp of the valve stemp especially with a dead-flat tube, and on Schraders it barely opens the valve-stem valve. I haven't tried it on Presta. With all the hard pumping needed to get up to pressure, the somewhat awkward grip on the pump barrel and trying to keep the inflator stuck to the stem, it would not be hard to tear the stem away from the tube, but I haven't had that happen to me. While it is made well enough to last a long time and is rebuildable after that, I can only recommend that pump as an emergency device, providing just enough air to get you home.

So, the other day I went ahead and bought a Topeak Morph Turbo G (http://www.topeak.com/products/Morph-Pumps). I read lots of good (http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/2008/07/topeak-morph-pumps.html) things (http://bikeportland.org/forum/showpost.php?p=26410&postcount=26) about Morph tire pumps and decided I'd get one with all the bells and whistles. I tried it out and it is at least as good as the reviews say! It is very easy and convenient to pump. I inflated a dead-flat 27" x 1-1/4" tire to 85 pounds in around 90 strokes and I was not pushing very hard at all. I can easily imagine getting over 100 PSI with this pump. The pump's gauge matched within two pounds of a stick-type tire gauge. The combination of flip-out foot brace, T-handle and the flexible hose make pumping as pleasant as it can possibly be, almost like a garage pump with up-and-down effort out of your shoulders so you can really lean on it. The valve clamp went on and off easily with almost no air leakage although as other reviews note it works opposite most clamps; it is locked on in the UP position (no big deal). I really like this pump but one downer: The plastic gizmo that holds the flexible tube and valve clamp when the pump is stored broke before I even took it near a bike, just fiddling with it normally in the house. It would not be a big deal if this happened on a ride, the pump would still work just fine and the hose could be taped, tied or velcro'd to the pump body so it didn't flop around. I'll return it tomorrow and I am sure it will be replaced. Still, it's annoying. :mad:

But honestly, that Topeak is good enough that I might get a second one, too. That Turbo G model is 13.8" long and 10 ounces. For less money, the Morph Mini can shrink 3.5" and and 4 ounces off my load. It loses the gauge and a bit of the pump-stroke length (meaning more strokes to fill a tire) but I think it would still be an excellent pump capable of getting up to road-riding pressures quickly and easily. (Topeak rates them both to 160 PSI.)

Some reviews have minor complaints about the Morph's mounting hardware. It can mount either to braze-ons in place of a water bottle cage (obvious downside) or else with zip-ties to most any frame. It is pretty much what I expected. The pump snaps into a set of plastic clips and a velcro strap secures it. It seems like it should work just fine in most applications. The zip-ties that come with it are heavy-duty with releasable ratchets so they could be moved to a new location, although with their tails snipped off it would be hard to re-use them, I'd just as soon they stayed tight where I set them and replace with new ties if I had to move it.

Here is a picture of the clip that broke:

http://i839.photobucket.com/albums/zz315/_Alans_Pics_/P5220134.jpg

wsbob
05-23-2011, 11:52 AM
I'd also been away from cycling until about 6 years ago, until I got a Cinco de Mayo surprise of a really fine bike, abandoned in a Trimet bus shelter. It was a road bike with a small frame with the sloping top tube. The bike was rather well equipped as I found it, but did lack a pump.

Bikes and pumps both had evolved design wise since I'd ridden ten years earlier. Though some people couldn't get used to how to use them, the simple, elegant pump of choice had been for years, the Silca frame pump. Campagnolo made an aftermarket bulletproof pump head for it. Big fat tube, long length meant you could pump up a tire fast and easy...except that the tube was plastic, so people that didn't know what they were doing would sometimes break the tube. Now, about the only way you can get such a pump is used or NOS. For use with my steel frame road bike, I've still got my 30 year old Silca frame pump with campy head; it continues to work fine to this day.

The pump I wound up getting for the newer bike is the Topeak 'Speed Master Blaster', predecessor to the currently made, very similar in appearance Topeak Road Master Blaster, which adjusts to fit different frame sizes...mine doesn't, so I had to jerry-rig a mount that's not as ugly as what it was supplied with for mounting. Pumps the tires up to 80lbs or so; enough to get home safe or to a better pump.

Aggravating design flaws with this pump, is that the plunger handle is flimsy and doesn't want to stay tightly screwed down on the plunger handle; it comes slightly loose, meaning that when you push the plunger down, sometimes the inside edge of the handle collides with the top of the pump barrel. Also, the rubber jacket covering the bottom of the pump, breaks down and tears when subject to movement across the lower frame joint where it had to rest on my frame.

I chose this pump model rather than one of Topeak's other models, in part because of its comparatively simple, uncluttered design. Durability is important though. If Silca frame pumps would have been available in a size to fit this frame, that's what I would have chosen over anything Topeak currently has to offer.

jr98664
06-13-2011, 03:35 AM
http://i.imgur.com/qrcB6.png
I've used the Lezyne Pressure Drive Mini Pump (http://www.rei.com/webservices/rei/DisplayStyle/779850?source=gpla&cm_mmc=cse_froogle-_-datafeed-_-product-_-na&mr:trackingCode=6451DD84-078C-DE11-B4D4-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA) for years, and I've never been left stranded with it in the nearly 20,000 miles I've cycled with it since I purchased it back in January of 2009 at River City Bicycles.

I've never toured without it, and with great results. Cycling over 4,000 miles across the country this past summer, I had at least ten flat tires, and every time this was able to get me rolling. It looks great and is impeccably well designed. The frame flip is handy too, fitting below a waterbottle cage. I would definitely recommend the pump to anyone.

seriously
06-15-2011, 11:23 AM
I also have the Lezyne Pressure Drive Mini Pump. It's a great pump, well designed and always on my bike. Works with both shrader and presta valves.

The only negative is the price. But a pump is an important piece of bicycle equipment and it's worth spending money on something that is a pleasure to own and use.:)

Alan
06-15-2011, 01:14 PM
seriously, thanks! (sorry, couldn't help myself! :) )

I like the hose to relieve valve stem strain, and super lightweight.

BTW, my replacement Morph is doing fine.