Monday, June 18, 2007

The Frame Pump

The frame pump is a thing of the past. Like a pay phone, the frame pump has been replaced by a smaller, lighter, and more convenient technology. Over the past 10 years, mobile phones have become the standard and so have the lovely, petite, CO2 cartridges. CO2s make the art of a flat change a more rapid and efficient process, getting a ride back on the road in seconds, and without the elbow and shoulder stiffness of yesterday. The frame pump was genius. It passed through many iterations: from a device capable of only low pressures and one's defense against the occasional country dog to a high-tech device that is smaller, lighter and capable of pressures above 120 psi. But like the pay phone, today the frame pump is only great in a pinch. This weekend, perfect in its execution, the frame pump was my savior. I own a black Silca frame pump with a Campy head. This trusty frame pump has aided me in several jams. At the time of its retirement I had perfected the art of the quick flat change complete with 110 psi. I had even requested a pump peg on my then new, custom steel frame to accommodate my trusty mate.

Traditionally, the frame was the mounting location for the "frame" pump. Seat tube, top tube and even tucked in behind the seat stay. I thought I had seen them all. In 1999, one hot summer morning, a long-time friend rolled up on the ride start presenting a very curious mounting location for his frame pump. In all the years of cyclists coming and going, dropping off their bikes for service, me selling pumps and even riding with frame pumps, I had never seen this frame pump trick. In my mind, I could not define what I was seeing. What is that?

Then, before he could respond, I realized I was seeing something completely new:


I was in awe. The frame pump had been a staple of the cycling world for so long that it seemed a stretch that I would see it carried in a new manner. After I took in the peculiar placement of the pump, I took to figuring out how this placement would not cause any functional issues, first confirming that turning the bars would not interfere with the pump or cables.



This weekend on my ride, I placed the frame pump in the QR/bar position. Oddly, it seems that my streak of flats ended this weekend with the implementation of my trusty frame pump. Is there a rule that when the monetary value of a flat drops so does their frequency? With the frame pump I eliminate the cost of a CO2. Later this week, I plan to replace my wasted CO2s and eventually go back to using them as my primary source for on-the-road flat repairs. But for now, I am enjoying carrying my frame pump and sporting in it as an ode to my old friend who taught me this unique style.

18 comments:

caw said...

Yeah I still have my trusty silca on my old Merckx corsa. You could do a whole post just on the Campy pump head! I remember how bad the cheap plastic pump heads that came with silcas were and the pump was almost worthless until you got a Campy one.

Radio Freddy said...

caw - yeah, the stock Silca head was pretty useless. The Campy head is a perfect example of flawless function and beauty in typical Campagnolo fashion.

Anonymous said...

Been reading a while, great blog... my first post....

Call me a luddite, but I ride 100 miles/week, and still have a frame pump (yes with a Campy head).

What am i missing with CO2? How does one do such a thing? Doens't it blow up?

Please guide me :-)

Anonymous said...

I like to observe the various techniques used to inflate the tire with a pump w/o air escaping from the valve as you do it...amazingly this varies greatly, and reminds me of the old saying..."like a monkey humping a basketball." Good Times!

-Chet B.

Anonymous said...

that seems like a recipe for disaster. i envision the self inflicted pump in the spokes...

Frank said...

Freddy-- a bit off topic, but... I have a Colnago question.

I'm picking up the brand in my shop-- and figure its time for a new bike. The C-50 as an all-rounder seems to be the obvious choice, what made you choose the Extreme-C? I'm 142lbs/6 feet tall: the EC seems viable, though my rep swears the C50 rides better.

Curious: what influenced your decision towards the Extreme C?

(Love the blog!!)
--Frank

Ari said...

My zefal HPX finally wore out and fell apart like the Victory Auto Wreckers commercial. It lasted me 20 years and I am in search of a new one. I like the pump because you can get other cyclists out of a jam.
All the best to you guys out on the road.
Ari

Radio Freddy said...

Anon- For the quick on the road change the C02 remains the fastest option. The other advantage is the pressure, even with a Campy head, the Silca requires a great deal of effort to reach 120 psi. If the ride is toward the beginning, I prefer to know I have a buck-twenty underneath me. As for the explosion, the C02 is pretty error proof however, a pinched tube or improperly seated tire will make itself quickly known. Thank you for taking the time to read and for leaving a comment. - RF

Frank - Thank you for the kind words on the blog. I have to say that price was the main driver in my decision to go with the Extreme-C. I had set my sights on the C50 but the cost was simply too great. When I came across the EC for a fraction of retail I had to pounce. It was the right size and close to the right color. PR00 was my first color choice. I am 160/5'9" and I think the EC is plenty stiff in the BB. Although, I am coming from a CAAD8 so in comparison the EC is a bit flexy. The C50 may be the best all around machine, it is plenty durable and only slightly heavier than the EC with no question of rider weight. You're sure to have some interested customers test ride your bike and the more robust C50 will help insure that customers fall in love with it. I am sure which ever you choose will be amazing and with a great build it will prove many of your customers powerless.

I hope this helps and thanks for reading
-RF

Ed W said...

Just two comments about pumps - first, it's hard to bash a snarling dog with a CO2 inflator. And second, when I wrenched at a rest stop on a local tour recently, I lost track of how many people asked if I had any spare cartridges. And finally, (oh wait! That's THREE comments!) a pump may be more environmentally friendly as it doesn't produce a waste product.

Radio Freddy said...

Ed W - You are on the money with both, uh, all three of your points. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Fer rilla said...

Hey Freddy-
Can you take a few closer shots of how it's mounted? This is a nifty trick, and i'd like to try it. A shot of the QR/pump head and maybe the pump/Bars would be great.

Thanks
g

gwadzilla said...

C02 for races only...

pumps for everyday use

as far as the junkyard dog goes...
that is where you get to test your sprint

I usually get into that situation with my friends where I feel...
I may not be able to out sprint that dog
but I can out sprint most of my friends

Radio Freddy said...

fer rilla - Here are the additional pics. I hope this is what you were looking for. Make sure the pump fits tightly between the bars and QR. Cheers - RF

Anonymous said...

A dog is a terrible thing to waste a nice frame pump on.

Your best bet is to yell "NO" with authority. If that doesn't work, squirt your water bottle at the beast. That usually is enough of a startler to allow even a tired cat V to get away.

If that doesn't work, hit em with the bottle. But don't break a good pump on a dog.

Anonymous said...

The better solution to the dog thing is to use your friends pump! Just ask to borrow it without telling him why. (I have actually done that at one spot where the same dog always come out all aggro) Enjoy the look on their faces!

Tobi said...

[IMG]http://www.canadiancyclist.com/races08/TOC/partone/images/_DSC0049.jpg[/IMG]

This shows how PRO a frame pump is

gam3 said...

All I know about CO2 is that people that use it keep ask me if they can use my silca.

Dan said...

You can do something similar using the quick release on the rear wheel as well. Just put the pump handle end on the quick release (note that the QR must be angled up towards the seat, between the seat stay and the chain stays) and wedge the pump head end between the seat stay/seat tube. Still precariously close to the spokes, but I'd prefer it go in the rear wheel than the front. Still, my favorite position is right under the top tube.
IMHO: Sometimes old school is better than new school, in 35 years of riding/racing I've never been stranded with a frame pump and I can change a flat and pump it up to 100psi faster than most "Lance wannabes" can get their wheel off.