Reviewed: Blackburn AirStik 2 Stage Pump



A while ago I learned that cheaper is rarely better. Yes, most of the things I/we utilize on a daily basis are all manufactured in Chinese factories, but thankfully a great deal are engineered elsewhere. That means the mind and might of a few smart individuals have their hand in the creation and design of a certain category of products that I find trustworthy and can truly rely on. To that end, I tend to spend top-dollar on things that provide a high degree of safety, peace of mind and sustainability. High quality car and bike tires, dress shoes, tents, and portable bike pumps are a few of the items that I will pay top dollar for. And let’s face it, who want’s to be in an auto accident due to a sidewall blowout because the higher priced tire just wasn’t worth the extra $80 at the time?? I personally don’t like to play the coulda’, and shoulda’ game...$80 is well worth the freakin peace of mind for me.

So while some people may question the addition of portable bike pumps to my list above, I would be happy to tell them my story of having to walk my bike back home...for 12 the rain due to a failed “cheap” portable bike pump. Some would ask, “why do you use a manual pump instead of a CO2 pump?” Call me ole’ fashioned, but I liken it to taking a lighter instead of matches on a camping trip. I know the matches have a lower failure rate than the lighter (less things to go south). Yes, CO2 inflators are nice...and have their place, but as with the lighter, things can more easily go wrong with the base technology.

Enter the Blackburn AirStik 2 Stage portable bike pump. For the past two years, I have...

used the Airstik, saving my ass on no less than 7 occasions.

Why do I like the Airstik?

A few years ago, I wrote a review of the SKS pump that failed and left me stranded in the middle of God’s country. In the case of the German SKS, both the engineering and the production failed to produce a compelling product. The design, proved too unstable and not well thought out from a riders perspective. The manufacturing followed suit, creating a product made from substandard materials--prone to breaking and malfunction.

The BlackBurn’s AirStik on the other hand excels both in the areas of design and manufacturing. Is it as light as the SKS? Absolutely not, but by no means is it “heavy” (the AirStik weights 84g). Would I have opted to carry a slightly heavier pump on that fateful ride than the SKS? Sure, if nothing else I could have used it to mimic the pummeling of the German SKS product engineer...that would have been sooo satisfactory, but I digress.

Made from high quality aircraft aluminum, the AirStik, just feels like a pump should feel...heavy, durable and dependable. The nozzle easily fits a presta valve stem and has a threaded cap--allowing the head to be tightened and loosened during the pump process. The two stage feature worked as advertised and allowed much quicker inflation to the tire in the initial pumping process. Once a moderate volume of air filled the tire, I found switching to the second stage was much more manageable (and easier on my Popeye’s), providing more pumps to volume ratio. In general, I found I could fill a tire to 80 PSI in about 4-5 minutes, tops. That beats the heck out of walking in disgust after slaving for 30 min on a failed pump.

The Snob In Us Says

In order to maintain adequate contact with the stem, we had to apply a considerable amount of pressure to the top of the head unit. Not uncommon with portable pumps, we just wished that the head provided a more ergonomic design for our fingers.

Our Recommendation

Buy this pump if you want a super dependable, rugged product that won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road saying I shoulda, coulda, woulda...

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