Bontrager Mini Charger Review
It's sexy and it blows
Unlike most of my purchases I did not research this one at all. It simply happened to be one of the few pumps that a local bicycle shop in Barnstaple England happened to have available when I walked in. On our cycling trip through England in May 2015 my girlfriend's rear tire had gone flat. The small pump that I had brought from home worked, but not very well. The smaller the pump, the less air each stroke gives you. With big tires you need a lot of strokes. Without a hose you have to hold it awkwardly pressed against the valve while pumping. Without a manometer you also have no idea how full the tire is.
Since we happened to be stranded for a day in Barnstaple due to bad weather anyway it was time for some shopping. Of the few pumps the Bontrager Mini Charger came closest to what I needed, and hopefully not regret buying later, like some of the cheaper pumps that were for sale. The price was probably not as good as I could have gotten online, but I like to look at it as a souvenir.
Bontrager is the brand that American bicycle manufacturer Trek uses for its components, many of them are used on Trek bicycles, but there are also sold separately to be used on other bicycles.
The pump is made out of black anodized aluminum with red aluminum hose clamp and valve screw, for a bicycle pump it looks quite sexy.
This small pump has all the features that my other small pump was lacking:
- Large air chamber to pump up large tires faster.
- Manometer to check the pressure while pumping.
- Long rubber hose which swivels at the base.
Besides that it also has the following features, which I did not particularly care for at the time of purchase, but turned out pretty handy:
- Foot pedal that folds out for even better pumping.
- Works with both Schrader and Presta valves.
- Comes with a mounting bracket to attach it to the frame of a bicycle.
- It looks pretty good.
The pump is set up for Presta valves, but by unscrewing the air head you can pull out a rubber cylinder and a piece of plastic. By reversing the rubber cylinder it will fit around the wider Schrader valves. It's a finicky job, but it's nice to have. Especially after I got the Burley Travoy trailer with Schrader valves it is good to know that I can use the pump for both the bicycles and trailer tires.
The Topeak line of Morph pumps are often regarded as the best portable pump for bicycle touring. I had considered it before, but did not buy it because of the price. The Bontrager Mini Charger has a similar feature set, but with a longer hose, more aluminum parts and sleeker looks for a similar price.
I got to try out the pump right after buying it, and was thoroughly impressed. It pumps up a big tire with much less effort than a smaller mini pump. The manometer is integrated in the pump head and is kind of hard to read, but it's way better than nothing. Pumping is smooth, the foot pedal keeps it stable and the relatively large air chamber means that it fills up the tire relatively quickly.
When returning home from our trip in England and had gotten of the ferry and were taking a break when there was a group of racing cyclist of which one had a flat tire. They only had a mini pump, and I offered the Mini Charger, they were also impressed by this little pump. The next time I used it was again was a month or so later, again to help out another pair cyclists, who suffered a flat tire on a quiet path, but did not have a pump with them. Again the Mini Charger came to the rescue and brought a smile to everybody's face.
The only downside while using it is that the aluminum footrest is easily scratched on the bottom when used on the road. Some rubber here would help, but the scratches don't really affect the functionality, they just make the pump look slightly less sexy.
As far as pumps go, I like this one quite a lot. Sure, it would have been nice if it was smaller and lighter to carry around and cheaper to buy, but when it comes to pumping it works nearly as well as a high quality full sized floor pump. I highly recommend the Mini Charger as a travel pump, and it might even be your only pump.
- Bontrager Mini charger
- Portable bicycle pump
- Measured pump weight
- 224 grams
- Rubber hose length
- 395 mm
- Pump head length
- 102 mm
- Air chamber length
- 230 mm
- Air chamber outer diameter
- 25 mm
- Measured holder weight
- 31 grams