The Specialized Air Tool Road is a nod to the traditional frame pump that you always used to see sitting under the top tube or against the seat tube of road bikes in years gone by. It's much smaller in size but efficient, and it looks great – but it's not the most comfortable to use.
Let's kick off with positives. The Air Tool Road looks sleek and cool, and it's very simple to use.
Being a road-specific pump there are no 'smart heads' or twin connections for various valves as it's Presta only. Nor are there any clamps to hold the pump in place – you just push the pump head onto the valve. It's a pretty secure fit, requiring just a bit of pressure from your fingers to hold it in place as you pump.
The machined alloy construction is of a high quality too, with very little in the way of flex or wobble even when at full extension.
To stop the pump accidentally opening, there's a neat little dust cap that clips into the head opening which is screwed into the main section. If the dust cap is in place, the pump can't extend.
Its volume per stroke is 60cc and this gets the air into your tyres quickly. In a 28mm tyre with an inner tube I could manage 50psi in just 100 strokes, and 75psi in 150. It's rated to achieve 100psi and I'd go along with that, although it'll take some time to get there – from 75psi onwards it takes a bit of a workout to go higher.
As the pressures increase and it becomes harder to compress the pump, you need to use your hand to make sure the head stays on the valve, and also that the valve doesn't get damaged. The trouble is, the small area available makes it hard to hold the head without pinching your fingers each stroke.
Also, that smooth machined body looks cool, but once you start pumping away, the pump warms and your hands start to sweat, which makes gripping the pump difficult. Okay, mitts help, but not everyone wears them. I certainly don't once the temperatures have risen above the need for full gloves.
On top of that, to get purchase on the pump, to compress it once the tyre has got above 65psi, you need to use the palm of your hand to push against the rounded end of the main chamber. Because the diameter is so small it creates a pressure point that can be annoyingly painful.
It looks the business, but its usability is compromised.
Thankfully, at £27, it's not overly expensive.
It's slightly cheaper than the Topeak Roadie TT Mini Pump (£29.99) and delivers nearly twice the cubic capacity. The Topeak is a lot shorter, though, which means it can fit easily in a jersey pocket or saddle bag rather than just the supplied mount, unlike the 268mm Specialized.
Nick got on with the Topeak, too, with the valve clamp reducing the need for so much finger pressure at the head, and the bigger barrel diameter reducing pressure on the pumping hand.
The SKS Airboy is practically the same money (£26.99) as the Specialized and a similar kind of product. Again, it doesn't deliver as much air as the Specialized does per stroke, but it is so much easier and comfortable to use. Little details like the rubber grip on the end of the main barrel just aid the pumping motion.
I can't criticise the Specialized's performance – from that perspective it is a very capable pump – and I love the looks. It's a quality piece of kit. But it's let down by not being that comfortable to use.
Very good performance let down by poor ergonomics
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Air Tool Road Pump
Size tested: 100psi max
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?
Specialized says, "The Air Tool Road is a modern version of the traditional frame pump. It's a little smaller than the pumps of old, but thanks to the inverted dual chamber design, it fills high-pressure road tires faster than you ever remembered."
Those traditional pumps had a good sized handle and barrel to grab hold of, though...
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Inverted dual chamber design is smaller yet moves 25% more air per stroke when compared to our previous design, reducing pumping time by up to two minutes.
Presta-only head with updated dust cover prevents pump from opening due to vibration.
Machined outer barrel for extra grip while pumping.
All-aluminum inner and outer chamber for durable performance.
Water bottle boss frame mounting bracket included.
Max pressure: 100 PSI (6.9 bar)
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a good pump from a performance perspective, but the shape detracts from that.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Gets air into a tyre or tube quickly.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Narrow, smooth barrel causes grip and comfort issues.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's similar to other quality road pumps on the market such as the SKS Airboy and Topeak Roadie TT Mini Pump.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes and no. I liked the aesthetics and the quality, but there are better pumps out there for usability.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
I get what Specialized has aimed to achieve here, and when it comes to getting air into a tyre or tube from such a small pump then it's done well. It's just a bit of a faff to use, and has a few compromises.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!