Here at Vital, it's no secret that we love the riding in Sedona - that's why we chose it as the venue for our 2014 Test Sessions. The trails are incredible, the town is fun, and the weather is hard to beat. When we heard the news that they're hosting the first...more
Added a comment about product review Tested: Birzman Maha Apogee MTB Floor Pump 10/31/2014 1:03 AM
Added a product review for Birzman Maha Apogee MTB Floor Pump 10/30/2014 10:27 PM
by Brandon Turman
As we've written before, Birzman tools combine good looks, clean design, and clever innovation that make working on your bike a more pleasurable experience. The statement certainly applies to their high-end hand tools, but what of their new Maha Apogee floor pumps? Could the already relatively simple task of pumping up a tire be made even easier? Let's take a look at Birzman's answer to that question.
Maha Apogee MTB Pump Highlights
- MTB specific high volume track pump design
- Pump tilts towards the user providing unparalleled ergonomic comfort
- Stable aluminum alloy base with high polished premium finish
- Varnished wooden twin handle optimizes grip and comfort
- CNC'd and super stiff pump barrel for durability/performance
- 120psi max with Presta/Schrader compatibility
- Precision MTB specific pressure gauge is easy to read during use
- Equipped with new L-Shaped Snap-It Apogee adapter (Controlled Air Discharge)
- MSRP $100
In The Shop
Like many Birzman tools, the high-polish finish of the CNC machined pump barrel will attract your attention from across the room. Combined with the varnished wood handle, it looks like a showpiece, but it's highly functional at the same time.
The pump's "MTB" designation indicates that it's specifically made for mountain bike use. How so? It has a large barrel designed to drive more air faster with a maximum pressure of 120psi. In practice we found it fills tires very quickly. On a high volume 2.35 x 29-inch tire, each full pump yields an increase of just over 1psi, meaning you'll need relatively few pumps to fill a tire to the typical 25-35psi range. Some pumps seem to take forever to fill a tire - this isn't one of them. Compared to the Pedros pump it replaced in our shop, it yielded a savings of about 15 pumps per tire. Multiply that by two or more tires and the time savings begin to add up, especially when the sun is setting and you want nothing more than to shred some glorious dirt turns with your riding buddies.
The added volume also helps when seating beads on fresh tubeless tire installs, which we were able to do with ease on several tire and rim combos. It's nice when you don't have to track down an air compressor.
Construction details are all well thought out, the pump feels stout, and the action smooth. Birzman actually slants the barrel by 5-degrees to help direct the downward force from your hands into the pump. This makes it a bit more stable, too.
Perhaps the coolest feature is the new "Snap-It Apogee" pump valve that allows you to quickly switch between Presta and Schrader tire valves. The previous design required that you unthread the Snap-It valve for Schrader use, but that's no longer the case. Now you simply slide the gold-colored collar so the preferred valve type can be read and go about your business. For Presta valves you push the head onto the valve and slide the collar forward, locking it into place. For Schrader you thread the head onto the valve. Both methods create a very secure, leak free connection that has never blown off or pulled out a valve core upon removal. Just be sure to push the head on firmly for Presta valves.
A new "Air-Lock" feature also allows the floor pump to be used on air-sprung suspension forks. If you pull the collar back after pumping you activate an "Air Lock" feature that effectively turns it into a zero-loss system. Why can the pump only be used on forks? Rear shocks are typically run at pressures that exceed 120psi, and they also have a much smaller air spring volume than forks. The pump can fill a fork in just two or three pumps, model dependent. If you've ever filled a fork from empty using a shock pump, you know how long it can take. As you might imagine, this brute force approach isn't super precise, so we can't see ourselves regularly using it to fine tune suspension settings. In the all-too-common situation where no one has a shock pump it'd be quite handy though.
On tires, fine pressure adjustments can be made after inflation by depressing the small black button at the back of the Snap-It valve. We verified the accuracy of the pump's pressure gauge using a few handheld gauges, which showed an almost negligible 0.5psi variation. The size of the gauge makes it easy to read while standing.
Things That Could Be Improved
As pressure increases into the 100psi+ range, the effort required to push the handle down increases substantially. You'll notice this while pumping up suspension or road tires. For this reason riders with both road and mountain bikes may consider opting for the road model. The balance between high volume and high pressure is certainly skewed toward the volume side on the MTB version.
While we've found it to be great in almost every scenario, the Snap-It valve requires a few millimeters more exposed valve stem than several traditional valve designs. If you have deep carbon rims this may occasionally present a problem.
Those looking for a compact pump well suited to all-around use should look to Birzman's Tiny Tanker or Maha Apogee MTB II pump instead. The overall size of the base on the Maha Apogee MTB pump is quite large, so it's not really suited to kicking around the trunk of your car. If your pump lives at home, game on. You'll be pleased with how stable the base is.
There is a small bracket on the base to hold the valve and hose in place. It's a little too easy to dislodge, though, which can be a small frustration.
Finally, two of three rubber bumpers on the bottom of the base have gone missing in a little over one month of use.
What's The Bottom Line?
We found that the Birzman Maha Apogee MTB floor pump truly does make the mundane task of tire inflation easier. The combination of a clever valve design, high volume barrel, good ergonomics, and a stable base make pumping faster, allowing you to hit the trails sooner. The new Air Lock feature and compatibility with most air sprung forks may save you from missing a ride, too. That's progress. Good looks are just icing on the cake.
Visit www.birzman.com for more details.
About The Reviewer
Brandon Turman likes to pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when he's in tune with a bike, and to really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill. His perfect trail has a good mix of flow, tech, and balls-to-the-wall speed. He loves little transfers, rollers, and the occasional gap that gives him that momentary stomach in your throat kind of feeling. Toss in some rocky bits with the option to double over them or risk pinch flatting and you've got a winner in his book. In 14 years of riding he worked his way through the Collegiate downhill ranks to the Pro level. After finishing up his mechanical engineering degree, his riding focus turned to dirt sculpting and jumping with the occasional slopestyle contest thrown in for fun. Nowadays he's Vital MTB's resident product guy, putting in saddle time on nearly every new platform and innovation the bike industry has to offer.
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