SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MARCH 18th
SKS Airmotion 12.0 Floorpump
£55 (in the UK) €44.99 (on the SKS website)
The SKS Airmotion 12.0 Floorpump is tall and powerful. Aimed at the all-round cyclist or one with multiple tyres to inflate, it is as well-made as you’d expect from SKS. Possessed of many tempting features, it has been a pleasure to use, and will certainly remain a firm favourite on group weekends as well as at home.
Pros: height, rapid inflation, hose length, closure lever.
Cons: tight fit on some valves.
At 71.5cm tall, the Airmotion 12.0 offers a very long stroke compared to many rivals, sending 343 cubic cms through the hose each time. The hose, which clips onto the barrel, is 120cm long, another plus, allowing flexibilty of valve position or when connecting to trailers, and such like, turned on to the side. The closure lever, somewhat unusually, secures the valve by a push into the flat position as opposed to the more usual position at right angles to the head. The dual-head is designed to fit Presta, Schraeder, and Dunlop valves.
Barrel and base are made of steel Both feel robust, although the pump is far from heavy. Build feels rock solid; the finish has seen no ill-effects from sanding out in heavy rain and baking sunshine. The stand seems to be designed to give a particularly large footprint, adding great stability. Up top, the handle is rubber, with grips for fingers and thumbs. Up top, too, is the pressure gauge – well supported – with the familiar orange arrow to mark the desired pressure.
12 bars/174psi is the maximum inflation.
40 stroke to take 16x1.95 Maxxis Hookworm tyres (on the Surly Ted Trailer) to 90psi. Equal efficiency was achieved with the slick Inoue Roadlite Xguard Tyre 700x23: Zilch to 100psi came courtesy of between 25 and 27 strokes.
Needless to say, the chunkier the tyre – 26x2.5, for example – will need more strokes. However, the good news is that pump action is smooth and, if not totally effortless, has caused no emissions of bad language from this grumpy old cyclist. Indeed, I was frankly stunned by how easy inflation was. True, I’ve only gone to 120psi max, but that was achieved with minimal effort. Those who want to go higher and more rapidly may look to the SKS Pro Rennkompressor, for example.
I have not tried to get up to the 174psi max. Like most cyclists, that is well beyond what I need. I see no reason why it should not be achieved. Similarly, I’ve not tested it on a tubeless system, although I suspect it would do rather well at giving a powerful initial blast to form a seal.
Ease of Use 4/5
Ease of inflation has a lot to do with the height of the pump and the capacity of the barrel: less bending, more air. I am six feet tall. Top to bottom of stroke requires little bending, despite the height of the pump, just a comfortable lean.
Easily confused as I am, it took me a while to get used to clicking the clamping lever inward to close the valve, rather than the usual outward lock. More alert pumpers will not be so easily discombobulated. Even so, the dual-head valve ports are a good tight fit, so make sure that the clamp lever is open. Smaller wheels, such as those on a trailer, were well-served by this lever closure: the lever is pulled away from the spokes. I’ve found it difficult to get some other levers fully closed on some smaller wheels because it is pushed into the spokes, bending the valve over or preventing a secure lock.
I like dual-headed floor pumps, and generally prefer the push and clamp type as opposed to the screw-on type with a reversible chuck. True, the latter are perfectly functional and may offer greater security as tyre pressure mounts. I’ve found the SKS Airmotion 12.0’s head very secure. Presta valves, especially longer ones, needed a little care (supporting the base of the valve whilst pushing the head on). Indeed, the one downside, has been the need for careful manipulation when removing the head from Schraeder valves post inflation to around 100psi: care needed to avoid damage.
120cm of hose length is a boon, too. This is not unique, but it does reach valves in all sorts of positions, including on the Surly Ted Trailer resting on its side.
The adaptability of the head coupled with the easy stroke and rapid inflation makes me wish I’d had this when I was doing Dr. Bike sessions with a hundred or more tyres a day. Got a big fleet or check over other folk’s bikes? This could be the pump for you.
Whilst I am not short-sighted, having the gauge at the top does make it easier to check progress. Again, I see this as a nice, helpful touch, rather than a crucial feature. It seems to me to be accurate within roughly 2psi.
Overall, the SKS Airmotion 12.0 has a lot of nice, helpful touches, which add a lot to its fundamental speed and ease of inflation. All in all, my initial reaction on using this pump was, “Wow, this is amongst the best I’ve used.” Nothing has happened to alter this opinion.
Given the all-round excellence on offer, £55 is not unreasonable. The Blackburn Core 2 and 3 are good comparitors with a number of similar features. The Airmotion sits between them in price; a tenner more than the Core 2 and the same less than the Core 3. The joe Blow Sport III, something of a favourite with me, is of steel construction and comes with a wider range of adaptors – including needle valve etc. It currently comes in a £49.99.
The Zefal Profil Max FP60 Z Turn Floorpump and its sibling the Z Switch, are not as fierce inflators as either the Blackburn or the SKS Airmotion 12.0. Sitting in the middle in terms of cost, it is a very effective pump, without having, in my opinion, all the pluses of the Airmotion 12.0. Having said that, being four centimetres shorter may suit you perfectly.
The SKS Airmotion 12.0 not only offers very good value. Ideal for the all-rounder with a wide range of bikes as well as the group inflator-in-chief. Pound for pound or Euro for Euro, you’ll need to look hard to find better, unless you want very high pressures or find the extra height uncomfortable. Equally, you’ll find rivals around the same price mark, or even a little cheaper.
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