ZEFAL HPX HIGH PRESSURE FRAME PUMP
Size 4 249g black (as tested) €32.95 (£28.23 at time of writing)
Adjustable to fit different frame dimensions, well-made for comfortable use, and rapidly efficient, there’s a lot to be liked about Zefal's HPX High Pressure Frame Pump. Length and Slim Jim style mix volume and pressure nicely, but with a distinctly road bias. Although it may not be exciting as some more shiny and exotic models, it has not let me down and meets its design brief very well
Pros: Universal, adaptable, efficient.
Cons: best for round profile tubes, check frame furniture, e.g. pump hooks.
Aluminium, with plastic grips and cap is not especially exciting, but is a good mix for weight and function. The cap twists between two settings, HP setting for pumping and X for fitting to the frame. You can still pump in the latter, but the pump will not compress as far in HP position. This allows fitting to a variety of frame sizes (within the available parameters) and on different tubes.
On the latter front, Zefal suggest measuring your seat-tube and checking the sizing chart to pick the right model. Four lengths cover 360-550mm. Ours was the top size, 4: 510-550mm
The handle end can fit on a pump pin or hook – although it can manage without - but the head end needs to be up against the frame. This may be a deal-breaker for some.
Absence of an adapter tube – although these have seen a resurgence in recent years – may not suit real retro - riders, but harks back to the Zefal pump that originally graced my ageing Supergalaxy when it was sparkly and new in the 1990s.
Airtight contact with the valve – Shrader or Presta – is courtesy of a thumb-sized lever and screw cap. Unlike some recent models, such as the Revolution Air Mini Pump,you need to open up the head and swap things round when necessary.
There’s no special attempt at ergonomics, and we’ve had a bit of a debate around the merits of various designs for: mini-floor pumps, ergo-handles, and so on. Needless to say, ergo-comfort is considerably more important for workshop floor pumps in frequent use, as opposed to the one you have on the road which, with any luck, never gets used.
98 full strokes took 700x28c tyres to 90psi – without undo effort or cussing.
96 full strokes took 700x25c to 100 psi, without too much effort, until the last few pushes. In fact, not much more effort than using the track pump to do the same.
Bulkier 26x2.00 tyres took 114 to reach 80ps, which is not a surprise..
High pressure tubulars have been accommodated, too. Mind you, despite its prowess, it isn’t up for kick starting your tubeless installation.
In all cases I found it easiest to kneel and grip the pump near the valve. Prevented pesky wheel wobbling and allowed a good full stroke, for full efficiency. There’s been no heating -up as higher pressures are reached.
This is a universal pump and may well fit on all of your bikes. Whilst it’s true that rattling over setts, rough towpath, and
forest track has failed to provoke an escape, fiercer MTBers I know said they’d prefer to keep a micro pump secure in a small seat pouch, such as the VEL Waterproof Saddle Bag. In fairness, that’s not its scene, anyway.
The design should allow it to sit safely on most frames. Initially, the old Supergalaxy’s single pump pin on the top tube added confidence, although, frankly, things have not felt less secure without it, let alone two of them. In that context, if your frame sports frame hooks, bear the length in mind. My old Carlton Clubman has no hooks, but nor does it have bottle cages, so the HPX found a safe home on the seat tube. Likewise, the mystery-mongrel single-speed has a slightly different frame dimension. The tourers bespoke frame didn’t like it, but that’s down to the unusual geometry.
Happily, the protuberances that locate the head end of the pump have not scratched stove enamel paint jobs. They should be fine on others, too, but I’d tend to err on the size of caution when removing or replacing.
By the way, Zefal suggest lubing the shaft. However, the exclamation mark suggests care. Frankly, many trad oils are likely to cause damage, so lube using a rubber-friendly grease or a silicone-based product, such as Muc-Off Silicon Shine.
Off the bike 2.5/5
Too long to slip completely into a pannier or bar bag, keeping things safe when away from the bike presents a bit of a conundrum. Granted, it is fairly stealthy – in spite of its size – but can’t be made secure on the bike. Walking round, unexpected extension can prove embarrassing, or even destructive: it was a close call in one ceramic art gallery I’d dropped into. It functions nicely as a light-sabre substitute if you are closet Jedi, but overindulgence may damage the pump.
Topeak’s Master Blaster Road Frame Pump can be found a few pounds cheaper. Its 160psi top end doesn’t quite match the Zefal HPX mooted 174psi (how high do you want to go?). On the other hand, I’d give the latter the edge on efficiency.
A whopping £162 can get you a Silca Impero Ultimate with silicone buffering to protect your paintwork, but you could get eight of the HPX for that – and maybe get a respray, too. Specialized’s Air Tool Switch Frame Pump is no longer available, but its successors have migrated to bracket-mounted models, coming in at a little less than the HPX. Mind you, I’ve seen the HPX at a much-reduced price on some well-known web-based retail sites.
In recent years, the frame pump of yesteryear has become just that – for the most part - a retro decoration, albeit one with an important function. The HPX isn’t amongst these, although it will not look outrageously out of place.
Efficiency and ease of use suggest individual and group use – especially when one person is on maintenance jankers, or on a multi-day ride. I’d be loath to leave it hanging about in town, but rural café stops should be fine (or you can take it off). Speedsters may well prefer something smaller to supplement their CO2 inflators.
Road tourers, on longer jaunts, such as Le-Jog, may well appreciate it most.