Is there anything more frustrating than a lousy handpump? In our short cycling career I must have gone through a dozen pumps, most of which are now landfill. There are two main requirements for a good handpump in my humble opinion: it must fasten securely to the valve stem, and you must be able to apply sufficient pressure when pumping.
We have two pumps which meet these criteria: a Topeak Roadmorph, and a Lezyne something-or-other, both of which are pictured below for a side-by-side comparison. The Lezyne is the shiny one.
When fully compacted, both pumps are about the same length. The Topeak is slightly longer (with a corresponding increase in stroke length) and slightly slimmer. The Lezyne has more girth because its rubber hose is wrapped around the body, whereas the Topeak’s rubber hose has a sliding insertion into the housing of the pressure gauge.
In both cases, the rubber hose is a significant plus. The hose enables you to place the pump on the ground and apply good, hard pressure. Pumps without a hose require you to secure one end of the pump against the valve and then apply pressure with only the strength of your arms. I’m a weakling – it doesn’t work for me.
Both pumps have a small lever on which you can brace your foot. In practice these are not very useful unless you have the flexibility of a gymnast.
The pump handles have been designed to let you press down hard without spearing your palm. They both work moderately well, though I find the Topeak handle a bit less comfortable than the Lezyne. (The Topeak handle has not been spread out in the photo below.)
The most significant functional difference between the pumps is the way they secure themselves to the tyre valve. The Topeak uses a cam lever to clasp itself to the valve, whereas the Lezyne is threaded on directly. The Topeak is faster to put in place (if you get it right the first time), but the Lezyne is a more “positive” fit.
Also, the valve fitting of the Lezyne (and RoadMorph) is dual-purpose. It can be removed and flipped to either a Schrader or Presta fitting, whereas the Topeak is single-purpose, or so I used to think until Eddie O pointed out that the RoadMorph is also dual-purpose (see Eddie’s comment below). This is a big feature for me. When I take the Lezyne or RoadMorph, I know I don’t have to worry whether I have grabbed the right pump for the bike I’m riding.
Finally, both pumps have a pressure gauge. The Topeak’s gauge has very tiny numerals and is harder to read for those of us with tired eyes. On the Lezyne you can see the mechanics of the spring mechanism that measures pressure. However, its numerals are stenciled on the outside of the barrel – I don’t know if they will wear off over time.
In neither case is the gauge smooth. They adjust to an initial reading on the first stroke, and then stay put for the next 4 or 5 strokes before jumping to a new reading.
These are the best two hand pumps I have come across. When touring I like to give the tyres a boost in the morning to about 110 psi, and both pumps perform extremely well. I find the Lezyne slightly more comfortable to use, and the dual-purpose valve fitting is a major positive for me. Besides, its pressure gauge is very cool.