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Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes

Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes

Slime Lite Self Healing Tubes

If you are a Weight Weenie who enjoys patching flat tires then you can skip this product review. However, if you would rather spend your free time actually riding instead of waiting for the glue on a tire patch to dry, then you need to pick up a pair of Slime Lite Self Healing Bicycle Inner Tubes.

Slime Lite Self Healing Tubes are lightweight butyl inner tubes that have been pre-filled with Slime tube sealant. The company claims that this product will instantly seal most punctures up to 1/8″ (3mm), and in my experience the product works well. However, they warn that sidewall punctures and pinch flats might not seal.

If you travel much in Third World Countries you will see a lot of glass and litter on the roads. Well, I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago in the People’s Republic of Illinois and we are pretty much a Third World Country! The main bike trail in my area has so many broken bottles on it that the locals call it the “Glass Highway.” A few years ago it was common for me to get flat tire on one of my bikes at least once a week. However, once I started using Slime in my inner tubes my problems with flats disappeared.

Sometimes we have to make compromises while cycling. We want the lightest bike and components possible and we don’t want to add any unnecessary weight to the bike, especially rotating weight (like on your tires). A 700c x 19-25mm Slime Lite tube weights 158 grams (about 5.5 ounces). While this is three times higher than the weight of a Bontrager Race XXX Lite tube, I would rather put up with a bit of extra weight on my tires than have to stop to change a tube in a high-crime area on the “Glass Highway” (I know of several cyclists who’ve been robbed on this wonderful trail).

While I have nothing but good things to say about Slime, I noticed that many of the customer reviews on Amazon.com were negative. The only thing I can tell you is that my experience with Slime has been excellent. The only time Slime has ever failed me was the first time I got a puncture with it installed. I had a small sliver of metal stuck in my tire, so I stopped to pull it out (I should have kept riding). Since I had not taken the time to read the directions, I pulled the sliver out while it was facing up—which means all the Slime was on the bottom of the tube! If you get a puncture while riding with Slime in your tubes the best thing to do is to pull the debris out while it is facing the ground—this will let some Slime and air out, but the puncture will seal. Then, put some air back in the tube, get back on your bike and ride. The rotation of the tires will spread the Slime out and you should be “good to go.”

The Slime Lite tubes retail for $12 and you should be able to find them at your local bike shop. These tubes are available in a variety of sizes for both 26-inch and 700c tires, and for both Presta and Schrader valves. In case you were wondering, Slime sealants are made with environmentally safe, non-toxic, non-hazardous and non-flammable ingredients—if you spill any of it on you all you need is soap and water to clean it up.

 

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Surly Nate Tires For Fat Bike Fun In The Snow And Mud

One of the most highly coveted cycling products this year has been the Surly Nate Tire for Fat Bikes. If you are one of those guys who rides your bike in your basement on a trainer all winter, well, you can skip this article. However, if you own a Fat Bike and love playing in the snow and mud, the Surly Nate tire might end up being one of your favorite cycling purchases of all time.

Surly Nate Bicycle Tires

Surly Nate Tires

Both the Surly Pugsley and the Surly Necromancer Pugs come stock with 3.8″ Surly Larry tires on the front and 3.7″ Surly Endomorph tires on the back (often called the Larry/Endo combo). These tires are great for folks who are lucky enough to ride on groomed snowmobile trails and hard packed (consolidated) snow. Those of use who ride on loose and unconsolidated snow usually find this tire combination somewhat lacking—the Larry in the front is prone to washouts (especially if the path is off-camber) and the Endomorph in the rear often loses its grip in loose snow.

The Surly Nate tire has a large and aggressive knobby tread pattern that offers unbelievable traction in unconsolidated snow. While these massive tires have more rolling resistance than other fat tires, I’ve still been able to get my Pugs up to over 20 MPH on the pavement. I’ve also been able to cut a trail through five inches of fresh snow without any trouble—even on off-camber sections of the trail. In addition, I’ve been able to climb snow-covered hills while standing up out of the saddle—something I could never do with the Larry/Endo combo.

The Surly Nate is available with either 27 tpi or 120 tpi (threads per inch). Higher tpi tires are usually lighter, more supple and more expensive. Lower tpi tires are generally heavier, more durable and offer better flat-resistance. The 120 tpi Nate weighs around 1500 grams, while the 27 tpi version weighs a bit over 1700 grams. The 120 tpi Nate is available with either a wire or Kevlar bead.

Due to an unseasonably warm winter I’ve spent more time on my Surly Pugsley Necromancer in the mud than I have in the snow this year. The first time I rode with the Nates was on a 35 degree day on an off-road trail that had snow and ice in the shady areas and several inches of mud and standing water in the areas exposed to direct sunlight. When I started my ride I could see the tracks left by a mountain biker who had started out on the trail before me that day—the tracks turned around after about 30 feet! However, I was able to ride for over 30 miles on this muddy trail and my Nates didn’t slip a single time (but they did throw a lot of mud).

Surly Nate Tires after riding in the mud

Surly Nate Tires After Playing In The Mud

I do need to warn about one of the side effects of these tires. If you go out for a nice ride in the melting snow and mud with a pair of Nates you are going to come home covered from head to toe in mud. You will then find yourself standing out in your snow-covered backyard with a water hose and scrub brush trying to clean your bike. Your neighbors will never understand the smile on your face. In fact, I am not certain of its source myself. Does the smile come as a result of the fun you had on the ride, or from thinking about those poor guys riding their trainers in the basement because the weather is “too bad to ride in”?

The 27 tpi Surly Nate tire retails for around $80, and the 120 tpi version is around $120. You should be able to find these tires in the Men’s Department of your local bike shop. This tire is made in China by Innova.

Once you get your hands on the Surly Nate tire, make sure you look for the Easter Egg (hidden message) just above the bead of the tire. In case you can’t find it, it says, “Deep Fried Meat Fueled Natepocalypse.” I am not sure of the best way to translate this into English.

 

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Accu-Gage Low Pressure Presta Tire Gauge

Accu-Gage Low Pressure Presta Tire Gauge for Fat Bikes

Accu-Gage Presta Tire Gauge

Riders of Fat Bikes throughout the world can rejoice—an accurate low pressure tire gauge is now available! Those of us who spend winter riding in the snow on Fat Bikes usually try to keep our tire pressure between 5 and 10 psi. Unfortunately, very few tire gauges are accurate as such low pressures. The good news is that Accu-Gage has a professional grade low pressure tire gauge for Presta valves, and this puppy is dead-on accurate every time!

Those mammoth tires on bikes like the Surly Pugsley have a maximum tire pressure of only 30 psi, but most of us never inflate them past 15 psi, even if we are running on pavement. While the tire pressure gauge on your floor pump might be correct at higher pressures, I have found them to be very unreliable at lower pressures. You might think that a digital tire gauge would be the best alternative, but cold temperatures have a great impact on their accuracy—and some of us like to ride even when the temperature is well below zero.

When I say the Accu-Gage is “professional grade,” I am not simply parroting their advertising. These gauges are fully geared and have a precision movement with a bronze Bourdon tube. The piston-plunger gauges on most bicycle pumps are affected by changes in temperature and humidity, but gauges with a Bourdon tube (like the Accu-Gage) are not. Also, since you don’t need batteries for this gauge you don’t have to worry about the battery dying in the cold like they often do in digital gauges.

The Accu-Gage Low Pressure Tire Gauge is a 2″ dual scale dial tire gauge with a maximum pressure reading of 30 psi. Tech nerds will be interested to know that this gauge meets ANSI B40.1 Grade B specifications. For non-geeks, this simply means this gauge have been calibrated and is accurate to within .5 psi.

You should be able to get the Accu-Gage Low Pressure Tire Gauge (model #RPR30BX) from your local bike shop for around $13. The manufacturer offers the original purchaser a lifetime warranty against defects.

 

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Cobra Tire Tool For Easy Bicylce Tire Repairs

Changing a bicycle tire is not all that difficult a job—I ought to know, I’ve had to do it enough! I live in the far-north suburbs of Chicago and the “rails-to-trails” bike path near my house is affectionately known by locals as the “glass highway.” Even with puncture resistant Kevlar belted tires you can still get a flat. Unfortunately, puncture resistant tires are a bit harder to get off the rims than thinner tires. The good news is that the Cobra Tire Tool makes bicycle tire removal a snap.

The Cobra Tire Tool is a modified tire lever—on one end it has an extra hook in the shape of a snake about the strike. The end of the tool that looks like a standard tire lever is used to pry off the tire, while the larger hook fits over the chainstay or fork blade. After you get the tool in place you slowly spin your tire and in just a few seconds it will pop off the rim. If you want, you can patch the tube while the tire is still on the bike!

When I started writing product reviews I decided to never use photographs supplied by manufacturers. However, a still photograph cannot do justice to this tool, so I asked Jim Walls, inventor of the Cobra Tire Tool, to use his video of the tool in action. This video is less than a minute long—watch it and prepare to be impressed.

The Cobra Tire Tool is three inches long, weighs under half an ounce and is made of nylon and fiberglass so it should not mar your bike frame. It also comes with a lifetime warranty against breakage. The cost is only $6 (postpaid) and is available directly from the company Web site. This product is made in America.

At the moment the Cobra Tire Tool is only available for Road Bikes, Tri, and Hybrids. A tool for mountain bikes and fat tires is in the works.

 
 

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Innova Steel Studded Bicycle Tires For Winter Cycling

When the snow starts falling you only have a few choices if you want to avoid gaining 20 pounds during the winter. You could set your bike up on a trainer in your basement or garage, but within 15 minutes you are going to feel like a hamster when he is running on the wheel in his cage. The best solution is to man-up and buy a pair of steel studded bicycle tires so you can ride all winter long. Unless you live north of the Arctic Circle cycling in the snow is a blast! While there are many good brands of studded bicycle tires available, last year I chose a pair of Innova (26 x 2.1) snow tires and used them all winter long.

Innova Steel Studded Bicycle Tires

Innova Steel Studded Bicycle Tires

Unlike the more expensive Nokian or Schwalbe tires that use carbide studs, the Innova tires use steel studs, so yes, they are going to rust (see the photo above). However, the Innova tires are at least half the price of Nokian or Schwalbe tires. The Innova snow tires have 268 replaceable steel studs and an aggressive tread. I rode with them all last winter and found them to be a pleasure to ride on. While it is very common to lose a few studs during normal use every winter due to friction, the best I can tell I didn’t lose a single stud in over 500 miles.

While the side of the tire says the maximum air pressure is 60 psi, I would recommend you don’t go above 50 psi. At 60 psi I just didn’t feel like the studs were gripping the snow and ice as well. I hate to admit it, but I did a face plant into the snow last year while riding with these tires. I was cranking along at about 20 MPH on my street which only had a bit of ice on it when I turned into my driveway that had six inches of snow on it. My front tire came to sudden stop, but my body didn’t. I should have shoveled my driveway before I went on my ride, but where is the fun in that?

Innova steel studded bicycle tires are made in Taiwan. While I have not had any problems with these tires, I think that if I had it to do all over again I would opt for a more expensive Nokian tire simply because I love riding in the snow and I think that in the long run the Nokian tires would be a better buy. However, if this is your first year to attempt riding in the snow I would suggest you try out a pair of Innova tires—even if you only use them for two years you will get your money’s worth out of them.

If your local bike shop does not carry Innova tires, you can buy them from Amazon.com for around $60.

 

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Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

The beauty of having several bicycles is that you can configure your older bikes for riding in inclement weather. I’ve outfitted one of my older road bikes specifically for riding in the rain and light snow. In addition to fenders, reflective tape and a few mechanical adjustments, I added a pair of Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tires.

Continental Touring Plus road bike tires are lightweight, puncture resistant and have an aggressive enough tread pattern to make it easy to ride in the rain. I bought a pair of these tires (700X28) and have them inflated to the maximum recommended pressure, which is 100psi. My “sunny day” road bike is a Trek Madone with Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires inflated to 120psi. Surprisingly, the ride on the Continental tires is very similar to the Race Lite tires, even though there is a substantial difference in tire pressure.

Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire (note the reflective stripe)

I’ve put around 2,000 miles on these tires and all of them have been in the rain or light snow. As you probably already know, rain has a tendency to bring all sorts of debris up to the surface. Even with the road debris these tires felt very secure on the road. I have also found these tires to give decent traction in light snow.

One of my favorite features of this tire is the highly visible reflective sidewall. Riding in the rain almost always means you are also riding in low-light conditions. The reflective sidewall on this tire is incredible! I wish every bicycle tire had this feature. After 2,000 miles in the rain and snow the reflective stripe on the sidewall looks rather dingy when it is in my garage, but it still shines bright when an automobile headlight hits it.

Tread On The Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

Tread On The Continental Touring Plus Road Bike Tire

In addition to the 700×28 tires, Continental Touring Plus road bike tires are also available in several other sizes, including: 24×1.75, 26×1.75, 28×1.25, 28×1.5, and 28×1.75. The 700×28 tires retail for around $45, but several online shops offer them for around $37. However, consider the cost of shipping you might be better off buying them from your local bike shop.

 

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Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

When it comes to cycling we all have different skill sets. One of the things I am really good at is patching bicycle tires. This skill was not acquired by choice, but by the fact I used to get puncture flats at least once a week. When I finally wised up and put Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires on my road bikes my tire patching days pretty much came to an end.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tires

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Bicycle Tire

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires offer triple flat protection: a Kevlar belt provides puncture resistance, anti-pinch ribs stop pinch flats, and bead to bead woven construction dramatically reduce your chances of cutting your sidewalls.

My Trek Madone uses 700 x 25C tires and I keep them inflated at 120psi. I’ve used these tires for over 10,000 miles on this bike and have only had two flats during that time. Since this tire is a bit stiffer than your normal bike tire you will find it takes a bit more effort to change (not impossible, just a little more work). I’ve been able to get around 2,500 miles on a set of these tires, but your mileage will vary depending on tire pressure and road conditions.

The most common complaint I’ve about these tires is their increased rolling resistance. That might be a valid complaint, but honestly I’ve not noticed it. While it is possible to get a faster ride on different tires, any savings is eaten up with your first flat.

While these tires do offer great protection against flats, it is still possible to puncture a tire under the right conditions. Nearly every training route of mine crosses a road that leads to the county landfill and garbage trucks have a tendency to drop a lot of debris on their way to the dump. Last year I hit a piece of shaved metal that was as sharp Marine’s KA-BAR knife and it cut right through my rear tire and tube.

The downside of this tire is that is it not very responsive in the rain. In fact, during a hard downpour they can be rather scary. If you ride a lot in the rain I would suggest you either choose a different tire or just ride a different bike when it rains (that’s what I do). If you do get caught in a downpour just slow down a bit and allow a little more room for braking.

Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase Tires retail for around $43 at your local bike shop. While it is still possible to get a flat while using these tires, the chances are very remote. While these are not the tires I would suggest for a race, I would highly recommend these tires to any other cyclist.

 

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Genuine Innovations Fat 20 Threaded CO2 Cartridge

Genuine Innovations Fat 20 Threaded CO2 Cartridge

Genuine Innovations Fat 20 CO2 Cartridge

It seems like every time I’m out on the bike trails I see more and more cyclists riding mountain bikes with 29-inch tires. These larger tires offer several advantages over the traditional 26-inch tires, such as increased traction and a smoother ride over obstacles. Until recently the downside of 29-inch tires was that there wasn’t a CO2 cartridge designed for these higher volume tires and that’s where the Genuine Innovations Fat 20 Threaded CO2 Cartridge comes in! This new 20 gram CO2 cartridge will inflate a 29×2.1 MTB tire up to 42psi. The Fat 20 fits perfectly in their product line between their 16 gram and 25 gram cartridges. If you are not certain what size CO2 cartridge you need for your bike tires you need to check out the tire inflation chart they have on their Web site.

The Fat 20 CO2 cartridge is compatible with several of the mini-CO2 inflators that Genuine Innovations sells, such as the Microflate, Air Chuck, and Ultraflate. I think the best way to go is to carry the Mountain Pipe CO2 Inflator which gives you both a CO2 inflation chuck and a hand pump. A package of two Fat 20 CO2 cartridges sells for $11. If your local bike shop does not carry the Fat 20 in stock just ask them to order it for you. The Fat 20 is available on the Genuine Innovations Website as well as Amazon.com.

When Genuine Innovations sent a package of these cartridges to me for review I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to write! The only difference between the 16 gram and the 20 gram cartridges is 4 grams of CO2 (and a slight difference in length). However, not all CO2 cartridges are alike.

I have been a loyal customer of Genuine Innovations for around nine years—well before I started writing product reviews for this blog. If you have ever visited the Genuine Innovations Website or purchased one of their CO2 inflators you might have noticed their warranty says “the use of any CO2 cartridge other than Genuine Innovations brand cartridges will void the warranty.” You might be tempted to credit this warning to their marketing department, i.e., maybe it is just an effort to scare you into buying their cartridges instead of the cheaper cartridges you can find online. Please give me an opportunity to set the record straight.

Before I took up cycling I spent a lot of time shooting air rifles and pistols, all powered by CO2 cartridges. Somewhere along the way I found out I could “save” money by buying “no-name” CO2 cartridges in bulk off of the Internet. My first (and last) attempt at using cheap CO2 cartridges taught me several things about quality control (and the lack thereof).

The first thing I noticed about the cheaper cartridges was that they were dirty. The entire box of 24 cartridges appeared to have a thin film of oil on each cylinder. I didn’t think a lot about it at first—I was just thinking about the money I saved by buying “no name” cartridges. The second thing I learned about the cheap cartridges was that they wouldn’t fit inside my air rifle! However, since my air pistol had a different mechanism the cheap cartridges worked in it. The cylinders looked like they were exactly the same size as the “name brand” cartridges I had used, but they were just enough thicker that they wouldn’t fit. I guess quality control was not such a big deal in their country of origin!

After using a few of the cheaper cartridges I realized that the amount of CO2 in each cartridge varied wildly. I had no way of actually measuring the amount of CO2 in each cartridge, but based upon the number of shots I was able to take they had to vary by at least 25%. A difference of 25% might not mean much in an air gun, but it is a pretty big deal in your bike tire!

Genuine Innovations 16-gram CO2 cartridge cut in two

Inside A Genuine Innovations 16-gram CO2 Cartridge

By the time I got halfway through the box of “no name” cartridges I found another problem—the seals on my air gun were very dirty. I wasn’t sure where the dirt and oil was coming from at first, so I cut one of the empty CO2 cartridges in two with a hacksaw and was amazed at the amount of oil and grit I found inside! Wherever these cartridges were made the quality control folks must have slept on the job!

For this review I cut an empty Genuine Innovations CO2 cartridge in two with a hacksaw. Do you know what I found? Nothing! The inside of the cartridge looked like it had just come back from the dry cleaners (except for the shavings created by the hacksaw). Quality control does make a difference and that is why for the past nine years I have only purchased Genuine Innovations CO2 cartridges for my bikes. “Saving money” by buying cheap cartridges can end up costing you a lot of money.

 

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Genuine Innovations Race Day Road Kit CO2 Tire Inflator

If your bicycle has a carrier on the handlebars that looks like a picnic basket, this product is not for you. However, if you race or simply like to keep your bike as lightweight as possible, then I’ve got some great news for you! The Genuine Innovations Race Day Road Kit is not only the easiest way to attach a CO2 cartridge to your bike, but it is also provides the fastest way to remove the cartridge from your frame as well.

Genuine Innovations Race Day Road Kit

Genuine Innovations Race Day Road Kit

The Race Day Road Kit includes an all metal alloy Air Chuck Elite, a high-quality air chuck that connects a CO2 cartridge to the valve on your bicycle tire, and it works with both Presta and Schrader valves. This air chuck works with all Genuine Innovations 12, 16, or 25 gram threaded CO2 cartridges. The kit also includes a flexible mounting bracket that attaches to your bike with a Velcro strap. The mounting bracket can go just about anywhere on your bike frame, like but I think the seat post or top tube would be the most logical locations. The kit comes with two 16 gram CO2 cartridges, and a plastic cover for the cartridges (it keeps your hands from freezing when you use a cartridge).

The Race Day Road Kit was obviously designed with tri-athletes in mind. Removing a CO2 cartridge from the mounting bracket is as simple as pulling a short Velcro strap. The “push-to-inflate technology” on the air chuck means you can add air to your tire and get back on the road in a matter of seconds. When the race is over you can remove the mounting bracket in about two seconds.

There is also another great use for this product. I ride all-year long and in all weather conditions. If you ride in the rain you really ought to get the Race Day Road Kit. Rain has a tendency to bring all sorts of road debris to the surface and this leads to a lot of tire punctures. If it is a bad puncture you are going to have to patch the tire, but if it is just a slow leak you can quickly hop off the bike, inflate your tire, then get back on the road. If you only ride in fair weather this might not sound like a big deal, but if you have ever tried to use a hand pump to inflate a tire during a storm you will appreciate anything that can keep you from standing in the mud on the side of the road any longer than necessary!

The Race Day Road Kit retails for $25. If your local bike shop does not carry it you can order one from the Genuine Innovations Website. This review was based upon a product that was sent to me for review by Genuine Innovations.

 

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Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend Floor Pump

Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend Floor Pump

Top Dog Legend Floor Pump

You don’t have to have a lot of equipment to enjoy cycling, but one thing you must have is a reliable floor pump. When you buy a pump you had better purchase a good one because you are going to be using it a lot. Bicycle tires need topped off every week, and even more often if you put on a lot of miles. I’ve owned three floor pumps in the past ten years. The first two were cheap and broke in less than a year, and my third pump, a Topeak Joe Blow Max, works but has several shortcomings that make it less than desirable. For the past month I’ve been using a Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend that was sent to me for review and I am certain it will be the last floor pump I ever own.

The biggest difference between the Top Dog Legend and the other pumps I’ve used is the “smart head” that automatically adjusts to either Presta and Schrader valves. Just put the head over the tire valve and once you click the lever on the head it stays put, even at high pressures (the pump can go all the way up to 160 PSI).

My biggest complaint with the Topeak Joe Blow Max pump was that it would not work properly with short stemmed Presta valves (like I have on both of my road bikes). In addition, when using the Joe Blow Max to inflate a tire above 90 PSI it would often close the Presta valve and make it impossible to inflate the tire. Topeak makes a lot of great products for cyclists, but their floor pump just isn’t one of them. The Top Dog Legend has worked flawlessly on both short and regular Presta valves, as well as Schrader valves.

The Top Dog Legend is taller than the other pumps I’ve owned (it’s over 30 inches tall) and has a brushed aluminum barrel. It has a large easy to read gauge mounted near the top of the unit and this makes it very easy to read (you will appreciate this feature more as you get older). As you will notice in the photograph, this pump also has a solid base (the logo for this pump is on the other side, but I wanted you to see exactly where the gauge sits).

Compared to the other pumps I’ve used this one seems effortless—I was able to inflate the tires on my road bike to 120 PSI in far fewer strokes and with less effort than with the other pumps I’ve used (I guess this is because of the taller barrel on the pump). Another advantage of this pump is that the hose is 48 inches long which means you can inflate the tires while your bike is still on a rack or floor stand (the hose on most floor pumps is only around 36 inches long).

Genuine Innovations Top Dog Legend Floor Pump

Easy To Read Gauge

While preparing this review I stopped at the local sporting goods store to see the floor pumps they had in stock—they had eight pumps available (all the same make and model). When I started looking at the pumps I noticed that the lever on the head of the pump was missing from two of them. Either the pumps were defective when they were shipped or they could not survive being examined by potential buyers! Either way, those pumps would not last long once you put them to use. Genuine Innovations offers a lifetime warranty on their products (see their Website for details), but since these pumps are extremely well made I doubt if you will ever need it.

It is customary for product reviewers to find at least one thing to complain about in every review they write (this supposedly shows their independence). If this is the standard then I guess I’ve failed—I can’t find anything to complain about with this pump! It is a quality product in every sense of the word.

The Top Dog Legend retails for $70 and if your local bike shop does not carry it they can probably order it for you. You can also purchase this pump directly from Genuine Innovations.

 
 

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cave sisters

gathering paleo resources around the web

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