VEL Airflow TRV pump

The pump supplied with a new Brompton is their branded version of a Zefal mini pump. It is not very good. If you own a Brompton bicycle, and currently rely on the supplied pump, do yourself a favour: try deflating a Brompton tyre, and then re-inflating it using that pump. Either you turn your Brompton upside-down, or you fold it and put it on a table for better access to the valve, or you double over straining your back, or you grovel on your knees as you labour away. Then, after a couple of hundred strokes of the pump, you’re hot and sweaty, and cursing. Not a good look.

Alternatively, sell your Brompton pump on eBay (like I did), and buy this little gem instead:

VEL Airflow TRV pump (£40.00 at the time of writing)

The VEL Airflow TRV pump is fantastic. VEL are not one of the ‘big’ brands in cycling; their products are made in Taiwan, and they are distributed in the UK by Cooke Components.

A portable mini track pump – a really compact package
Well-engineered – valve lock secured in the handle

I use a full-sized track pump at home, principally for my weekly topping up of my Brompton tyres (and for my family’s other bicycle tyres). However, when I’m away from home – either commuting or touring – I want something that is reasonably capable in comparison. Therefore, my four main reasons for buying this pump were:

  • I can pump up a Brompton tyre while standing in a comfortable crouched position, rather than the alternatives, which I mentioned above;
  • The ‘stroke volume’ – the amount of air that inflates the tyre on each downstroke – is significantly better than Brompton’s own pump, making short work of pumping up a tyre (even to 100-120psi, which is the recommended pressure for most Brompton tyres);
  • It is reasonably compact (not enough for a speed demon riding a stripped-down road bike, but fine for someone like me who always has a bag of some sort in which to carry something this size);
  • It’s really well made, so it should last (and, more importantly, be in good working order when you need it most).
The fold-out stand works really well

There are other makes that offer similar options, but for me the VEL pump ticked all the right boxes – price, build quality, performance, and aesthetic looks (yeah, I know).

It hasn’t got a built-in pressure gauge but, if I’m out and about, I am happy to use the ‘squeeze test’ to determine if there is sufficient air in the tyre to get me home, or to my destination (I can then check it with a track pump, or use a pressure gauge at a petrol station forecourt).

Brompton’s own pump has mounts that are integrated into the bicycle’s frame. The problem with this is that, because of the pump’s orientation in these mounts, its handle section can fill with water. This rusts the spring. The alternative is to put it in a bag, which is what I ended up doing, until I decided that it really wasn’t fit for purpose.

The VEL pump is just over 30cm long, which enables me to fit it underneath the flap of my Carradice City Tourer M bag. I secure it in place with a couple of short straps, also supplied by Carradice (there is no way it will fall out):

Secured under the flap of my Carradice bag

I acknowledge that £40.00 is a lot to pay for a mini pump. But when you are grovelling about on the ground, in the dark, in the rain, desperately trying to force air into a recalcitrant tyre, using Brompton’s own pump, this will suddenly seems like a bargain. Don’t believe me? Go and deflate one of your tyres, and then try inflating it with your Brompton pump. Enjoy the exercise!

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