Shock Pump = Great Birthday Present

from Rookie’s keyboard

Hello, friends

I woke up 2 hours earlier today “by accident” and decided to make myself useful and write a short piece for your favorite site – 

Tomorrow, I will go to a birthday party of a fellow cyclist. To be ultra-honest, I don’t like loud gatherings, but friendships must be maintained. 

My present? 

A shock/suspension pump (or SP for short). Would you believe me if I told you that he doesn’t have one even though he’s been riding some Manitou air fork for years? Yeap. That’s correct. He routinely goes to the LBS (local bike shop) to pump his shock to the needed PSI. No more.

IMO, a shock pump is absolutely indispensable if you have an air shock. Sure, if there’s a bike shop that’s like 2 minutes away from where you live, you can always go there and use theirs, but why when you can have your own for something like 20 bucks? 

And besides, there are more reasons outside of “comfort” to acquire one.

Let’s list them all.

  • Shock pumps are irreplaceable 

If you were planning on using a regular tire pump for shocks, you need to go back to school as that can’t be done nor should be tried.

Shock pumps are precision instruments. They pump a minuscule amount of air into the chamber of a shock and increase the pressure to very high levels.

You can’t do that with a tire pump as you have less control and accuracy. Also, the inner parts of the shock will be under needless stress. So, it’s a lose-lose situation.

Luckily, my friend isn’t that uneducated, but I know that some rookies out there might be thinking of doing it. 

Take no offense to what I’m saying. I am here to teach, not criticize. I didn’t know any of this when I started either.

  • No leakage

The air chambers of suspension forks and rear shocks are quite small. And even a tiny air leak can cause a significant deviation in air pressure.

To combat this issue, shock pumps have a screw-down attachment system resulting in an airtight seal before the valve of the shock is even opened.

The outcome is no air loss when inflating the shock. No other pump can offer that level of air pressure stability.

A Note On the“Hissing” Sound

Some people might disagree with the above and back their argument with the hissing sound that you hear when you remove the pump. 

Well, fellas, sorry but you would be wrong. 

The hissing sound comes from the PUMP and not the SHOCK. And the air pressure in the chamber stays the same.

Once the pump is connected to the shock, some air from the shock chamber goes into the pump and remains there until the pump is disconnected. After unscrewing the chuck, that same air leaves the pump and makes a hissing sound. 

The same mechanism causes loss of air pressure in the shock upon connecting the pump.

For example, if you pump a shock to 110 PSI, disconnect the pump without “injecting” air, and then connect it again, the reading will be lower by about 5-10 PSI. Why? Because the pump has “stolen” some of the air without giving it back.

But since the “transfer” happens initially, if you pump the shock to the desired pressure and THEN remove the pump (a.k.a. normal use), there won’t be a loss in the end.

  • Bleed Button

Another cool feature is the “bleed button” on the pump. If you “overpump” the shock, you can press it and remove some of the air to get the setting you need. You won’t find that level of convenience on a floor pump. 

  • Droppers

Dropper posts a.k.a. the telescope posts on newer MTBs designed for dynamic/real-time adjustment of the seat height need air pumps too – one more reason why my present is so great, right?

  • Super Neat

Have you seen a shock pump? They are super small, and cute and can fit in some pretty small bags – including some saddlebags. 

  • Setting Testing

If you have your own SP, you can take it to the local track and experiment with different settings. You can’t do that when you depend on the LBS, can you? 

A Word On Accuracy

Standard shock pumps are much more accurate than floor pumps but still not as accurate as one might think. The numbers could deviate by +/- 10 PSI from the actual setting.

In most cases, this isn’t a problem. What matters more is consistency.

For instance, if you like how your shock performs at 100 PSI reached with your current pump, then it doesn’t matter that the real number is 90 or 110 PSI as long as you rely on the same pump.

And if that’s still not good enough, you can go for some super expensive ultra-precision pump. Personally, I think that’s an overkill.

Final Note

One more thing to know, fellas, – don’t even think about using a SP as a regular pump. 

Technically, you could, but it will take you over an hour and a few thousand strokes to pump your wheels. So, this makes sense only if you have ZERO other options. And let’s be real – why would you go in the middle of nowhere without a tire pump?

Also, a regular shock pump cannot work with a Presta valve by default and will require an adapter.

There are also pumps such as the Beto Bike Tire/Shock Pump that can work in two modes (high pressure + small volume & low pressure + high volume). If you want simplicity, you can go for something like that.

IMO you are better off with two separate dedicated units. They are just faster and more reliable. 

And if you lose one, at least you will have the other (unless they were stored in the same place and lost together.)

Ok, friends. I have to end this post as my work alarm is ringing already. On to the warehouse, we go.

Until next time, 

– Rookie






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