SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
BLACKBURN PISTON 4 FLOOR PUMP
1709 g £62.99
Blackburn Piston 4 floor pump is the flagship of the four model range and aimed at enthusiast fettlers. It’s a high volume design, which means it delivers more air per stroke. The gauge measures up to 220psi - I’ve nothing that demanding, but it’s taken 160psi tubulars and pretty much everything else in its stride.
Blackburn enjoys an enviable reputation for solid build quality backed by a lifetime no quibble warranty. Standing a sensible 67.6cm tall and tipping the scales at a reassuringly hefty 1,709g it features a steel base and barrel. These are welded together for strength and rigidity and dressed in a similarly hardy “matt black” (We’d say satin gun-metal) powder-coat finish. Both have resisted the usual, accidental dings and dongs without so much as a scuff.
Other aspects of the design are really well thought out. A huge and moreover clear top mounted gauge means there’s no excuse for over-inflation while being more comfortable for taller riders/mechanics. An extra-long 41.5 inch hose continues the convenient theme, meaning easy inflation with bikes on work stands, or even car mounted racks.
At the other end, we have their “Anyvalve” head, designed to accommodate Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves with minimal faff. One side is designed for long Presta and Schrader, the other for short Presta and Woods types. Simply unscrew the red anodized end; switch the rubberised plug round and refit - 10 seconds tops.
Admittedly, this lacks the outright convenience of double end, or smart-head designs but achieves an extremely reliable, leak free connection. An integral bleed button allows you to trim off a bit of pressure, in case you’ve got carried away and accidentally blasted 110 into a 90psi tyre. Both hose and head feel suitably robust and rebuild kits are readily available.
Even with prolonged use, the composite handle is delightful to grip and, even under enthused delivery, the big barrel, base and buttery-smooth piston action optimises efficiency.
A road typical 700x23c was gracefully raised from flaccid to 160 psi in 37 strokes -approximately thirty seconds, a set of 700x35c from flaccid to 90 in 38 strokes and, even bigger volume road-going mtb rubber hit 80 in 50 - less than a minute.
Most floor pumps, even budget models, will cruise to 100psi, though similar levels of resistance were only felt beyond 145 psi. Gauges were once a weak-spot but in my experience most are accurate to within 2psi.
Double checking with a premium digital standalone model confirmed our piston 4 was absolutely bang-on. All the more impressive given it had winged its way over from the US and doubtless tossed across various depots en route.
Ultimately, I’ve been suitably impressed by the Piston 4. Not cheap but serious home mechanics will recoup the investment many times over. The lifetime warranty is simply another bonus.
Verdict: 4/5 Superbly engineered track pump that is a delight to use - recommended
PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2016
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH