The Fabric Stratosphere Sport Track Pump is a basic floor pump straddling the budget/decent-at-full-price line. It will do you fine for most tyres, but if you're after a more premium feel or for daily use, there are better options. It's also expensive compared to the competition.
Two years back, James reviewed the Fabric Stratosphere Sport, giving it three stars and finding it a bit budget on feel and performance for a middling price – in other words, it did the job, but you'd expect a bit more for the money. The 2020 version looks to be exactly the same pump, just in white (though black is still available).
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At the budget-but-decent-expectations end of the floor pump market, candidates need to do three things really well to stand out from the crowd: have a decent hose length to make pumping in awkward spaces (sheds, garages, workshops) practical, have a smooth-acting head that seals effectively and removes quickly, and have the right compression-to-volume ratio to deliver the required air effectively in a sensible number of strokes. To my mind, there's no need for swivelling hoses, ergonomic handles, bleed buttons or lifetime warranties.
The Stratosphere's hose is 117cm long, which means it's good for valves about 1m above the ground. You need to allow some wiggle room for the head which sits horizontally, and for the fact that the hose attaches at the back of the pump base, so you lose some reach there unless you pump with it facing 'backwards'. So if you have a bike in a workstand at eye level, chances are the hose will be too short. This wouldn't be an issue except Fabric states that the hose is 'extra long'. I'd say it's the bare minimum. It is nicely retained by a press-in clip at the top which secures the handle, and then the head attaches to a clip at the bottom of the hose, so it's tidied away.
The head is perfectly serviceable, attaching to both Presta and Schrader valves with a smooth metal-lever action and staying sealed all the way to the maximum 140psi. Ours disconnected cleanly and quickly from Presta valves but removal from Schrader valves was a fight, requiring a fair bit of wiggling and pulling.
The pumping action is rather noisy and feels and sounds rougher than other pumps I've owned or reviewed, including a decade-old Bontrager Charger (current RRP £23) that's seen literally thousands of efforts, including many hundreds of recharges of tubeless tanks to its maximum 160psi.
Once you get past about 80psi things start to get hard. By 100psi you can feel the plastic handle bowing ever so slightly, and some real welly is needed to get to the maximum of 140psi.
> How to choose the best tyre pressure
I didn't find it impossible, but then I'm six feet tall and fit – I couldn't see someone of a shorter or slighter build having much fun at the post-100psi end of the scale. Not that 100+ is a typical use case these fatter-tyred days, but if you are wanting a pump to charge a tubeless tank, or to regularly get a track bike or turbo trainer tyre north of 100psi, this probably isn't the one for you.
Gauge and base
The gauge is nice and large, the needle bouncing about as needles do, but it's easy enough to track where you are at. Either side of the gauge is a roughened, sandpapery surface for your feet to grip onto, lest the pump scoot out from under you and embed itself in a wall, child or, heaven forbid, bike. No, I don't know why it's like that either.
The base itself is extruded plastic, and seems sturdy enough to survive a modicum of poor treatment.
As mentioned, my benchmark here for value is the £23 Bontrager Charger, and even a cursory look at comparisons shows the Fabric Stratosphere is decidedly lacking in the value stakes.
> Buyer’s Guide: 13 of the best track pumps
Tony really liked the Topeak Joe Blow Sport III, which costs £8 more but sounds well worth it. Or you can spend less than half the price of the Fabric Stratosphere on the highly rated (by purchasers) Lifeline Essentials Track Pump.
I may seem harsh here on the Fabric Stratosphere, but for £32 I'd expect a smooth pumping action that didn't get noticeably harder within realistic pressures, a longer hose, and a head that removed freely from both common valve types. And even then, I'd expect those at a lower price.
A good-enough pump for semi-regular use, but expensive for what you get
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Make and model: Fabric Stratosphere Sport Track Pump 2020
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's a budget pump for irregular minor inflation duties, not a daily home workshop tool.
One speedy, precise track pump
Get pumped up for the ride ahead with the Stratosphere Sport. Setting the standard for performance, the track pump automatically adapts to Presta and Schrader valves, while the large gauge gives precise inflation at a glance.
Pumped up simplicity
Designed with the workshop in mind, the Stratosphere Sport gets you out on the road with speed and precision. Get pumping while your bike is in the workstand with the extra-long hose. An oversized gauge can be read at a glance and the head automatically adapts to fit Presta and Schrader valves, cutting out fiddly chuck changes.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Fabric lists these highlights:
Nylon base and handle
Extra-long rubber hose
Heavy duty base
Fits Presta or Schrader valves
Large gauge for easy reading
...and these details:
Pressure: 140psi / 9.7bar
Base: Heavy duty nylon
Rate the product for quality of construction:
It feels well put together, but not of premium materials.
Rate the product for performance:
OK up to 80psi, then it gets noticeably harder. The hardness of the final strokes above 100psi are a major issue for slight or regular users.
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
Not good at all compared to others.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Not that great. Got up to pressure OK, but it was relatively rough and hard to do so.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The big gauge.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The short hose, and the rough, hard stroke.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Expensive. For only a few pounds more you can buy a classic like the Topeak Joe Blow III. Or spend a lot less and get a Bontrager Charger.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
Compared with the likes of the Bontrager Charger, Fabric's Stratosphere is expensive and performs poorly.
Age: 46 Height: 183cm Weight: 72kg
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.
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