TESTED: Blackburn Frame Pump CF
Thirty years ago Blackburn entered the cycling market. Jim Blackburn started making some of the finest luggage and racks for touring bikes and they quickly established themselves as market leaders. Their racks have changed very little since then and they are still the quality chosen brand for tourists and commuters across the globe.
Since then they've added many accessories and bike tools to their range and now have a solution to just about every emergency you are going to encounter. This Framepump CF pump was launched earlier this year and we've been using it for about six months.
Frame fitting pumps remained unchanged for almost 50 years. Silca Impero pumps were all the rage when you could match the colour of your bike to your frame, they even made one in Celeste Blue, for Bianchi owners. The 'invention' of the mini pump has meant that the humble frame fitting pump isn't as popular as it was thirty years ago. But when Blackburn entered the pump market they made some huge leaps forward with their excellent mini pumps - especially as they actually worked.
Taking a mini pump in your jersey pocket meant that you could carry two bottles and not have to worry about carrying a pump wedged awkwardly into your seat tube. They did, after all, play havoc with your paintwork scratching the tubes were the end bits wedged into the frame. So the mini pump was convinient, even if it wasn't particularly efficient. It was a get home insurance policy. Most group rides meant that someone would have a 'proper pump' that you could always borrow, many riders say that they'd never used their mini pump, "it's just in case."
In the years that Blackburn have been making racks, one frame fitting pump has dominanted the market. The Zefal HPX pump (pictured left) is perhaps the finest frame fitting pump ever made. If there was a bench mark portable pump this is it. It's changed very little in 15 years and many are still working (mine included) after over a decade of punctures - they are a very hard act to follow. So launching a new frame fitting pump that's going to be better than the HPX is a tough call.
First impressions of the CF are usually along the lines of "wow that's a cool pump!" And secured to a carbon fibre bike they certainly do look amazing. Fitting the CF was a bit of a problem as the large ends could snag on brake cables and cable guides on some test bikes. Frame fitting is best done to the underside of the top tube and this can be retained if you have a velcro strap (one comes with the pump). Blackburn have added silicone rubber buffers to protect your frame and allow a bit of grip to prevent slipping, however on some oddly shaped tubes (Specialized Roubaix) I needed two straps to hold it in place, which looks a bit messy.
At 211g its weighs less than many mini pumps and Zefal's HPX at 250g+ would need a diet to match Blackburn's level, but this does make it feel less substantial than the Zefal and much less solid when pumping.
On test, 100PSI was reached in a matter of a very few minutes. However like many small hand pumps it took us a very long time to get to a very high pressure. The long stroke is even and easy so it's no effort and the handle at the pumping end can be swiveled to a T bar for ease of use. But how necessary is a 'claimed' pressure limit of 160PSI? The answer is not very, unless you are racing with tubs in a time trial, but it would take you so long to reach 160 PSI that the race would be over by the time you got there. So for really high pressures you're going to have to carry a track pump, which clearly isn't practical.
The biggest bug bear with the Framepump CF is the handle at the valve end. It turns to allow for either frame fitting (with a soft spring) or locks up ready for pump action. It's fiddly for starters and it has a tendency to twist and flip out from the locked position as you pump, this is really annoying. The valve lock is excellent however and once you have the knack of it, pumping is pretty effortless.
A frame fitting pump may not be top of your list of priorities but it will make punctures much less of an issue than when using a mini pump. With the Framepump CF I think Blackburn have tried a little too hard and the result is certainly well made, lightweight and trick but not as user friendly, or as efficient as Zefal's HPX. A shame really when it looks so cool.
Good: Looks cool, especially on a carbon bike
|Bad: Not as simple to use as a Zefal HPX and less tough|
Contact: Ultimate Pursuits – www.ultimatepursuits.co.uk
Weight: Max Pressure: 160 psi / 11 bar
Material: Carbon Fibre
Weight: 211 g / 5.5 oz