08 July 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: SKS Rennkompressor 75th Anniversary floor pump

I like to try different floor pumps. I think it all started when I bought an anniversary edition floor pump from Topeak that weighed about 40 pounds because it was made from solid brass attached to a cast-iron base, with an oil-filled pressure gauge. Though I still have that pump, I don’t use it often- it’s a showpiece now because Topeak told me they have almost no parts for these anymore and I'd hate to have it die. After the Topeak kicked things off, I started buying floor-pumps like candy.

I heard about the SKS brand from reading the British mountain bike magazines where they seemed to gush over them- proclaiming them to be some of the best-made pumps available, made in truly bombproof Teutonic fashion (SKS is a German company of course). The US bike parts distributor BTI started carrying them about a year ago and when the 75th Anniversary edition of their Rennkompressor pump was available, of course I couldn’t resist.

When the Rennkompressor showed up, it wasn’t as impressive as my old Topeak [which looks like something found in the submerged wreck of a spanish galleon], but it was obviously well made. The SKS too has a cast-iron base, but uses a steel barrel. It has a wonderfully simple brass nozzle that works only on Presta valve stems (note: It should be available soon with a nozzle that works with different types of tube stems). The pressure gauge is accurate but, unfortunately, is only measured in bar! Damn those Germans for not adopting PSI. It seems that someone realized that the US was getting these pumps and so slapped a table on the side of the barrel that converts the bar to psi. This might have worked well enough, but the sticker is black writing over a dark green paint and is hard to read without picking the pump up and getting a closer look. I think measuring in bar is dumb anyways because it is such a coarse unit of measure (mountain bike tires only need about 3 bar). SKS obviously understands this though because the pressure gauge is spread out and divided by enough marks that it can be read to 1/10 bar (about 1.4psi). In the end, it has the same amount of graduation that our gauges do and is (therefore) almost as useful (but bar still suck).

I have yet to have a problem with this pump and it has become my main pump for use at home. It fills tires quickly and feels solid doing it. The main tube can get hot if you pump a few tires up in a row but most pumps are in a similar situation. The Rennkompressor is a 40 year old basic design that has been refined and updated, but its roots are obvious and it therefore isn’t as flashy looking as a lot of newer pumps. If flash is your thing though, SKS makes a more modern looking line (which I will also eventually try). The handle is supposed to be wrapped in leather, and maybe it is, but it looks suspiciously like a synthetic or even rubber. It has two metal foot-pegs that fold up when not in use and a hose clip to keep things tidy too.

This is a great pump. Not that exciting looking though. I can’t find any warranty info online but I’ll bet it’s a lifetime one since that is what most of the competition has. Small parts are available too, if you do have a problem with the pump. My only annoyance with the Rennkompressor is the bar measurement gauge. Your local shop can order this pump for somewhere between $90 and $100.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very nice and interesting article. I have a Rennkompressor that I bought nearly 40 years ago, and it is still solid. It is good to know that they continue to offer something so solidly built.