There seems to be applications today for just about every task you can think of and over the last few weeks I have come to appreciate a simple app and piece of gear that is essential to cycling. A bike pump is an essential piece of kit for bikers and when you are traveling 15 to 20 miles an hour on a bike it is important to have proper inflation on your tires.
I didn't think much about using a connected bike pump, but then the folks at Echos Communications sent along a Silca Viaggio travel pump and it is clear that a high quality pump can provide a safe and efficient cycling experience. I've also struggled with very small portable pumps, but this model is less portable while offering the stability and capability to pump up your tires faster in a sleeker profile than most standing floor pumps.
My daily commute consists of biking just over three miles to the train station, riding the train to Seattle, and then walking a mile to the office. Cycling six and half miles is pretty quick and easy thanks to the RadCity electric bike I've been riding for almost two years. It took a while, but I've experienced three flat tires over the last month. I was able to use a bit of tech and my phone to help fix those.
Schrader chuck + HIRO locking Presta chuck with a magnetic dock
Weight: 2.95lbs/1.34kg, Length: 57cm, Max PSI: 220
The Silca Viaggio Travel Pump comes in a cylindrical cardboard container and is wrapped in a waxed-canvas tool roll. I was expecting a much more portable pump, but the pump and tool roll is still small enough to travel with you on an extended trip. I could fit into my pannier on my RadCity and it works so well, I may just carry it on my daily commute.
The barrel of the pump is shiny silver made of 6061 aluminum material. In order to manipulate the pump, you first slide off the thick aluminum handle mounted along one side and the slide it onto the piston at the top of the pump. It is very well constructed and should last you for years.
Two feet fold down and lock into place so you can stand on the pump feet and keep it secure to the ground. There is a twist lock plastic cover at the bottom of the pump that houses a coin cell battery to power the Bluetooth radio.
The rubber air hose extends the length of the pump and then back down for a total hose length of greater than three feet. This means you can easily route the hose and chuck to your bike and stand back to pump the tire with your connected phone.
A very high quality HIRO locking Presta chuck is installed at the end of the hose with a Schrader end that secures to your tube. Everything about this pump is well designed and built to last.
Silca Viaggio travel pump review: in pictures
The iGauge software is available for iOS and Android. It is a universal piece of software that works with a variety of compatible pumps. The gauge numbers are huge and take up about a quarter of my phone display.
Hook up the pump and start adding air to the tire to activate the Bluetooth transceiver. Once more than 6 psi is in the tire, data will be transmitted to iGauge. The default is psi, but you can also tap to view the pressure in bars if you desire.
Silca states that the software gauge is accurate to within 0.5 psi, which is much better than the 5+ psi I usually accept with my manual gauges. There are some other settings in the software, but I haven't found details on how to use those features and just rely on iGauge for the pressure reading.
The Viaggio Travel Pump is available now for $275, but if biking in an essential part of your daily commute or exercise routine then it may be worth the price. Having one at the office to help your employees keep their bike tires properly inflated is also something to consider. We have 50 percent of our engineering office biking to work during the summer months.
After my first tire went flat, I searched inside it and found a couple of blackberry thorns in the side wall. I removed them, replaced the tube, and then put some green Slime tube sealant inside it. I inflated the tube using a floor bike pump that has a gauge on the pump. I was watching the pressure on the pump and had plenty of capacity, or so I thought, when the tube blew up and green Slime went all over me and the garage. It just happened that my wife was in the garage at the time and was not impressed with my bike repair skills.
Thankfully, I had another spare tube so I put that on and went through the same routine, but checked the pressure with my dedicated gauge. This worked fine, but I had to bounce back and forth between the gauge and the pump to achieve proper tire pressure and have been satisfied with a 5-10 psi range. That tire also went flat about a week later with a sharp rock embedded into the tube and tire. The Slime worked, but the rock kept opening up the hole and slowly leaking air.
The Viaggio Travel Pump arrived after the second flat so I put it to the test. The Viaggio pump has a Schrader valve, which is what I have on the tubes of my electric and standard bikes. I installed the iGauge software and tried using the pump with nothing appearing on my phone. I deflated the tire and tried again, with no progress. I tried an Android phone and that didn't work either. I pulled things apart and realized there was a clear plastic insert in the coin cell battery found at the bottom of the pump so I removed that and was off and running.
The iGauge software has a large, easily readable electronic gauge so you can easily see the level of what you are pumping. At first I had a bit of air leaking out when I attached the chuck. I watched the video and adjusted the preload of the gasket and no more air came out when I used the pump. I confidently inflated my new tube and then checked the tire pressure in the three other bikes in the family.
The Silca Viaggio Travel Pump is a very high quality product that helps you inflate your tire to the correct pressure. It folds up well and fits nicely in the included waxed-canvas tool roll. There are plenty of open slots for your other bike tools too.