Review: Topeak’s Joe Blow pumps are the VW Golfs of the cycling world. Other manufacturers change models almost by the year, but the Jow Blows are always there. For many cyclists out there, these models stand for well built and well working pumps. We’ve but the top model, the Joe Blow Ace to the test.
The Topeak Joe Blow Ace is an impressive piece of aluminum: 75cm high, almost 2.5kg in weight and the silver aluminum make quite an impression. The look and feel of the pump are excellent. There are some plastic elements here and there, but they don’t feel cheap at all. The handle has just the right size and with its rubber coated upper side and an ergonomic form, it feels great in our hands. The big base is rubber coated as well – on both sides. No slipping anymore, once the pump is placed on the ground, it stays where it should. The manometer is integrated in the base – with its 60mm diameter it could be a little bit bigger. Other track pumps in this price range offer nicer manometers. The scale could be better as well: As it has to reach from 0 to 18 bars, it’s hard to read the exact pressure, something that’s especially important for the mountainbikers out there. Apart from that, the manometer performs as well as the whole pump: It’s precise and the carbon look is a nice touch.
The head is Topeak’s own design called SmartHead. It automatically adapts to the the valve you put it on (Schrader or Presta) without having to flip a switch, use and adapter or else. Adapters for Dunlop, balls and air bladder type valves are included. Topeak also recommends using the included Schrader adapter for 700c tubular tires. The SmartHead works pretty well and you don’t need a lot of force to securely fit the head onto the valve. However, the combination of high pressure and Schrader valves seems to cause some problems and we have troubles getting the head to really stay airtight. Using the Schrader tubular adapter solves the issue, but it’s a bit of a hassle to be honest. Something we’ve really liked was the air release button on the head though. There’s a small orange knob and when you press it, air escapes very slowly and carefully. It’s never been easier to adjust the pressure.
Now when it comes to the actual pumping, that’s where the Topeak Joe Blow Ace really begins to shine. The pump uses two seperate barrels and via a switch in the handle, you can choose which barrel you want to use. There are three choices to choose from:
1. Low pressure: Both barrels are used. Using this option, the Joe Blow Ace inflates our 2,5″ tire in record time. However, the maximum pressure is only 4 bar
2. Medium pressure: This option uses the main barrel. The volume is still more than enough and the maximum pressure of 8 bar should be enough for most tires.
3. High pressure: Here, the small barrel is used. Very low volume, but you can reach pressures as high as 18 bars (!).
As you can easily switch between the modes while pumping (mind the max. pressure though!) the Joe Blow Ace really works for all tires and pressures equally well. A great pump.