Review: Lezyne Steel Floor Drive Pump
(2016) Try to keep up with the plotlines.
My dad once told me about a big rig company that made a truck so reliable, so dependable, that no one ever bought another truck. The reason? They didn’t need to purchase another rig because there was never anything wrong the original. Make a product so dependable that one not need purchase another? That could be a problem. Especially considering the truck company went out of business a few decades later since their showroom was about as quiet as a library.
Recently Silca announced the unveiling of their ‘new’ Super Pista floor pump. It was a return to the century- old design initially known to cyclists as the standard in the floor pump industry. The old pumps were- and are still- so dependable that cyclists need not purchase another for the duration of their career. As a matter of fact, it’s no coincidence the five mechanics I trust my bike to own at least one original Silca floor pump. Those pump's average life span currently sits around at least thirty years old without replaced parts. A product that dependable creates word-of-mouth recommendation leaving the industry with Silca pumps or pretender Silca pumps.
Recently Silca was taken over by the next generation and the quality dropped off immediately and remarkably. Original pumps flooded ebay for constant rising prices taking advantage of the lackluster new product. People wanted the old dependability. Plastic parts appeared on the new pumps, replacing wood or steel. Rubber gaskets replaced the famous and dependable leather gaskets that were featured on pumps since 1917. Suddenly the dependability plunged leaving cyclists to look elsewhere for decades-long floor pump reliability. Suddenly, too, a void was left in the pump industry for a hand-me-down inflator. For a while no company managed to step up and enter the void.
In the last month Silca announced the Super Pista for $250 (USD). Silca guarantees each part is made in the same old factory as the original. Plastic bases were returned to steel, well, aluminum but close enough. Rubber gaskets were returned to leather- and from the original provider no less- as the original Silca pump. We were tempted to purchase a new Silca Super Pista, send it one of our trusty mechanics, pull it apart, and judge for ourselves whether the ‘new’ Super Pista lived up the old standard. But we're poor and can't risk busting open something $250 just to see if it's still as good.
In the meantime, after blowing through three pumps in the last nine years from a leading brand, we decided to look elsewhere for dependability. Seemingly welcoming the void left by Silca, Lezyne stepped up with an entire line of floor pumps.
We just used the Steel Floor Pump for the first time and must say the pump is satisfyingly stout. It may not be made in Italy as Silca was originally (or now made in Indianapolis, USA today). As a matter of fact it’s made in Taiwan. But let’s look at the facts.
The pump is made with an industrial yet simple feel. Steel is real, and this pump is steel where it needs to be. The base is steel. The barrel is steel. The handle, though, is wood just like many of the dependable- and nostalgic- pumps in the industry. The chuck is a beautiful red without the pesky lever. Instead it pulls down as a sleeve reducing the breakage possibility on both the chuck and tube/ tire valve. Surprisingly the pump has a 'tall' option for cyclists who sigh every time they are in a windy pace line behind a five-foot rider.
Lezyne has advertised the pump’s serviceability. That is, the pump’s parts can be replaced by Lezyne’s replacement line. It’s as if Lezyne took a page from Silca’s original sales book and made it work for them.
Some areas the pump falls short include the lack of a leather gasket as well as the short amount of air moved per pump. While Lezyne has gone after the dependable pump market, some of their parts resemble the lack of dependability found on the leading pumps on the market. Each plunge of the pump moves about five pounds of air, which could lead to a longer pumping session. But really, who is in a rush to inflate tires? The final concern is the presence of plastic on the handle. Pumps should not have plastic anywhere. End of story.
Are we excited for the Lezyne Steel Floor Pump? Absolutely. For a fraction of the Silca price we may have found something just as dependable. There was once an American commercial that stated, “I love new things, especially when they’re heavily worn in.” We’re excited to put the Lezyne pump to the test for several years, thus making it a tool in the garage each cyclist doesn’t have to worry about. Because, let’s be honest, a floor pump is something most cyclists don’t want to worry about. And we can’t blame Lezyne for creating a sub industry to repair pumps just in case it’s a little too dependable. But, as one of our mechanics stated, "I almost bought the Lezyne pump. That is, until I found an old Silca part I was looking for." Being mentioned in the holy of holies pump category is impressive indeed for Lezyne.
The Lezyne Steel Floor Drive Pump can be found at your local bike shop for $60 (USD). Be sure to stop by your local bike shop before turning to the interwebs.