First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 97
The Singletrack workshop suffers from a scourge that will be familiar to everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of using a communal workshop facility: invisible tool syndrome, also known as ‘I.T.S. (gone)’. Insidious rather than dramatic, this creeping affliction bides its time as jobs come and go, week after week, in a steady procession of tubeless set-ups, drivetrain replacements, finishing kit swaps and suspension strip-downs until one day – BAM! – all the useful tools vanish at once overnight without any apparent external influences being involved.
This affliction affects every class of tool bar one: weirdly, the humble track pump seems to be immune. Perhaps it’s the size that bestows upon it protection – a track pump is far, far too big to be accidentally left in a back pocket. Thus the floor of the Singletrack workshop – and anything in the vicinity of the Singletrack workshop, if we haven’t tidied up for a bit – is usually blessed with a substantial selection of track pumps, in varying states of use and repair.
Enter stage left this offering from Birzman, which loitered around the office for ages, unloved. We’re sure the quirky name is not to blame (something to do with a tree in Papua New Guinea, apparently), so perhaps it was the shiny stainless steel barrel and pristine lightwood handle which made it so intimidating to casual browsers. I eventually took pity on it and spirited it away to my home workshop, whereupon it’s done sterling service for six months or so.
It’s a mountain bike-specific track pump. In theory, this means it’s better suited to low pressures and high volumes; in practice, it means it’s very hard work to inflate anything over about 60psi with it (your average road tyre pressure will probably be way above this). So if you have any skinny-tyred bikes in your fleet, then either look elsewhere, or take two track pumps into the shower.
However, if you just want to use it on fat tyres, then it’s worth considering. The substantial barrel is a good deal more girthy than most regular track pumps and lets you move a high volume of air rapidly. This means that tubeless-ready set-ups inflate and seat with ease. However, this also means that attaining high pressures is a struggle – and this is unfortunate, as stubborn tyre/rim combinations can often be persuaded to seat if inflated to high pressure, whereupon you can let them down to more sensible pressures.
Attempting that with the Zacoo Maha requires some full-body mechanicing. Not ideal for you or the pump, though it saves on gym fees, and the mechanism and construction of the pump have both proved that they can stand up to this forceful mistreatment. And, despite plenty of trips around the country on the floor of the van, as well as time spent accidentally left out in the garden, it’s still looking lovely, with little wear and tear to the wooden handle and just a few scuffs on the shaft.
One area in which the Zacoo Maha falls flat though (badoom tish, etc.) is the chuck. On first glance this looks like it should be quick and simple to use – push on, snap shut, pump, reverse, remove. In practice this is rather hit and miss, with the pump head gaining an airtight seal apparently at random and when it feels like it, rather than when you’ve applied it correctly. The new version of this pump (the Maha Apogee MTB) features a new, L-shaped chuck, which is reported to be an improvement – we’ll see.
Decent enough high volume, low pressure, nicely finished track pump, let down by a rather shonky chuck.
|Product:||Zacoo Maha MTB track pump|
|Tested:||by Jenn for Six months|