We have lots of pumps. It might be more accurate to say that we have a large rotation of pumps, because the majority of them just don’t last. The non-replaceable head starts leaking badly. Or the plastic body develops a crack. Or the seal goes and the manufacturer’s solution is “buy a new one.” Nothing, it seems, is built to last anymore. Even the large majority of the high-end pumps have some kind of maintenance kit which require special tools in order to service. And then there’s Silca with the SuperPista, a pump that is guaranteed for longer than you’ll own your current bike. It’s not even a fair fight, is it?
The SuperPista is the down-market version of the SuperPista Ultimate, a master class in materials and design masquerading as a bicycle pump. The changes to halve the price, however, are not nearly as drastic as one might expect. Rosewood handles have been swapped out for Beech. The magnetic dock has given way to a more traditional retention ring. Where the Ultimate is a zinc base and stainless body, the standard is an aluminum affair, and anodized black. If you are looking for the piece de resistance, buy the Ultimate and rest easy. For the rest of us, however, the SuperPista is a work of enormously skilled craftsmanship in a day and age where such a term is almost criminally misused.
The internals of the pump are almost identical to that of the Ultimate. The leather gasket, the suspension fork piston and IGUS Glide Rings, the 242 gasket in the chuck head, it’s all there. You receive a pump finished in black and red, fetching in its own right, with a braided hose line that wouldn’t be out of place in a Porsche service center. Go ahead and take the pump apart. Lay all the parts out in your very own exploded diagram. Each piece is machined metal, except for that famous leather gasket; there is no plastic. No rough edges. No flashing or mill marks or imperfections of any kind. If Silca had released this first, we would all have hailed it as the most beautifully put together pump we had ever seen. But, of course, it’s big brother holds that esteem.
So what’s using a $235 pump to inflate your bike tires like? A lot like driving a Mercedes when you’ve only ever owned Civics. They both get you from A to B, but the experience is altogether different. Where with our other pumps we have to fiddle with them to get them to seal up, or that you can only pull the pump stroke so far or it’ll lose prime, or the head comes loose if you don’t hold it onto the valve… the SuperPista has none of that. You press the chuck onto the valve, let go, and pump. Done.
The stroke produces a prodigious amount of air that goes directly into your tire. The head doesn’t leak, no matter how beat up the valve core is. The gauge is massive in comparison to any pump we have in the office, and with a claimed 2% accuracy (we measured, as it happens, and found it to be even closer than that versus a lab-grade scientific gauge) you don’t need to worry about whether 95 psi really means 95. As with all high-quality tools, the SuperPista cuts through the noise and unnecessary song and dance of dealing with the things you’re using to accomplish the task and just gets straight to it and does the job – and that is the highest compliment we can give it.
If you ask Silca’s owner, Josh Poertner, he says that the SuperPista’s performance is about 90 percent as good as the Ultimate’s. Side by side its hard to feel the difference. If we had to guess, we’d put it down to tolerances in manufacturing with the different materials, namely stainless steel versus aluminum for the cylinder walls. Even so, at “just” 90 percent performance, the SuperPista will drastically outperform almost anything available right now for remotely similar money. If you have an Ultimate, we’re certainly jealous of you, but for half the cost of one, our money will happily go towards a SuperPista. In fact, it is.