September 2, 2014

Foot Pump Group Test: Michelin, AA & Ring Automotive Single Barrel Foot Pumps

Hot on the heels of my recent review of my own Michelin foot pump, I received two more foot pumps to review from well-known car accessories manufacturer Ring Automotive and from The AA.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity for a head-to-head test, so I have just spent some quality time outside in the snow, pumping up my tyres. There are three main qualities to look for in a tyre pump, as far as I can see:

  • Tyre inflation speed

    Ring Automotive single barrel foot pump vs. Michelin single barrel foot pump

    Michelin (left) vs. Ring Automotive (right)

  • Pressure gauge accuracy
  • Build quality

My test concentrated on inflation speed and build quality, as I do not have access to a calibrated pressure gauge against which to measure the accuracy of the pumps’ pressure gauges.

The Test

I used the same wheel to test both pumps. For each pump, I deflated the tyre to 40psi using the pump’s own gauge and then pumped it up to its recommended pressure of 49psi. My test vehicle was a van, hence the pressures are higher than they would be for most cars.

AA Heavy Duty Single Pump vs Michelin Single Barrel Foot Pump

The AA pump (left) looks similar to the Michelin (right) but has a different piston and gauge

For each pump, I counted how many strokes of the pump were necessary to inflate the tyre from 40psi to 49psi, using the pump’s own gauge to measure the pressure. The results were surprisingly different:

The Ring pump did inflate the tyre quicker than the Michelin and I could feel the difference – I had to press down harder on the Ring pump to move the pedal, suggesting that it was forcing more air through with each pump. Similarly, the AA pump was a little quicker, than the Michelin. However, some of the difference might be due to the fact that my Michelin pump is not new – some wear and tear may have reduced its efficiency.

Accuracy: I did not have a calibrated pressure gauge I could use to compare the accuracy of the pumps. However, it is worth noting that foot pumps with built-in gauges such as these are not always that accurate. To illustrate this, I used the Michelin to pump up one tyre to 49psi and then took pressure readings using the other two pumps:

  • Michelin: 49psi
  • AA: 47psi
  • Ring Automotive: 48psi

Although similar, they are all different. This isn’t a huge problem but does highlight the need for a good quality pressure gauge if you need or want very accurate tyre pressures.

Michelin Single Barrel Foot Pump

For my detailed review of the Michelin, click here.

Ring Automotive Single Barrel Foot Pump

Ring Automotive single barrel foot pumpThe Ring Automotive pump won the speed test, inflating my van’s tyre from 40psi-49psi noticeably quicker than my Michelin pump.

Like most good quality pumps, it includes a selection of adapters to inflate bicycle tyres and inflatable mattresses and so on. These come in a small bag that’s attached to the air hose, so you shouldn’t lose them.

In Use

The Ring Automotive pump seems quite well made and did not twist when I was using it – something that cheap pumps often do. It had a useful metal catch that was used to hold the pump closed when not in use – an improvement on the plastic plugs that do the same job on my Michelin pump.

The pump has a long rubber foot pad that provides a stable, grippy surface for your foot while pumping, although the rubber strip came off when I caught the end of it – it is only hooked on at each end, not glued down. I also found that it was not quite as easy to connect up the pump to the tyre valve as with the Michelin.

Both gauges seemed pretty similar – they gave almost the same pressure reading as each other when tested on the inflated tyre.

AA Heavy Duty Single Foot Pump

AA Heavy Duty Foot PumpAt first glance, The AA foot pump appeared to be very similar to the Michelin – I did wonder whether they were made in the same factory. However, there are some differences, most notably the piston mechanism and the pressure gauge (cosmetically, at least).

Like the Michelin, the AA pump had a sturdy metal frame and a large, well-shaped rubber foot pad that ensured that my foot did not slip while using the pump. It has a sliding plastic catch on each side to hold the pump closed when not in use and clips on the underside (identical to those on the Michelin) to hold the pipe in place when closed up.

Like the Michelin and the Ring, the AA pump comes with a selection of adapters for inflating things other than car tyres.

In Use

The AA pump worked well and inflated the tyre nearly as fast as the Ring Automotive pump. However, I do have some doubts over its durability. The third time I used it, I heard the hiss of an air leak coming from somewhere on the pump body. I have not found the source of this leak yet but it is a bit disappointing on a new item.

Final Thoughts

The Ring Automotive single barrel pump seemed well made and inflated my tyre quickly. At the time of writing it’s available on Amazon for £12.99, which seems pretty cheap, and you will probably be able to find it in local car accessory shops, too.

The AA pump seemed good at first sight but may not be as durable as the other two. The Michelin pump is my own and has been in regular use for more than a year now, so seems to be well made.

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