Things I Like: Lezyne Mini-Pumps

Back in the days of wool shorts and Peugeot PX-10s, there were basically two choices for frame-mounted pumps: the Italian Silca Impero (preferably with a steel Campagnolo head), and the French Zefal HP. With the advent of mountain bikes and compact-style frames, the full-sized frame pump fell out of favor, and was eventually replaced by the mini-pump. Whether attached to the bike, or stowed in a jersey pocket or hydration pack, the mini-pump has become the preferred inflation device for most riders. Not all mini-pumps are created equally, though. After trying at least a dozen different makes and models, I’ve come to favor Lezyne’s family of hand pumps.

Lezyne makes selecting the right pump–mini or otherwise–a no-brainer. Their pumps are broken down into two flavors–high pressure (HP) and high volume (HV). My skinny-tire bike is fitted with their Road Drive (HP) pump, and I use the company’s Alloy Drive (HV) on my fat-tired 29er. For the in-between 700×32 (60-80psi) tires on my commuter-slash-gravel bike, I carry Lezyne’s Pressure Drive (HP) model.

What is it that makes the Lezyne pumps so good? Construction, for one. The aforementioned Lezyne pumps are constructed from CNC-machined aluminum, which produces better tolerances, and a stiff, lightweight design. If you extend the pump’s handle, you immediately notice the smooth action and lack play between the components. When combined with the pump’s oversized shaft and piston, the end result is a design that all but eliminates wasted effort due to flex. Less wasted energy means fewer strokes, which means more time riding.

Although hoses have been used on hand pumps for many years, Lezyne’s ABS Flex Hose is in another league compared to the competition. The Flex Hose has threaded fittings for Schraeder and Presta valves (a slip-fit version is also available), with the latter featuring the company’s patent-pending ABS pressure-release button. That combination yields a connection that’s secure, and far less likely to damage or unscrew Presta valve cores. When not in use, the hose is kept clean and safe inside the pump’s handle, but can be quickly and easily installed when needed.

Lezyne pumps (and other hardgoods such as multi-tools and racks) carry a two-year warranty against manufacturer defects. Should you need to repair your Lezyne hand pump, the company offers replacement parts including mounting brackets, hoses, and seals.

 

Updates & Follow-Ups

Campagnolo Drivetrain Conversion
The Campagnolo Centaur Ergopower shifters have broken in nicely. Shifting is even smoother, but the reassuring tactile feedback definitely remains. Maintenance has consisted of occasionally lubing the cables and (derailleur) pivots, and rotating in another KMC X10.93 chain to minimize overall drivetrain wear. I did replace the 46t Real outer chainring with a 48t Specialites T.A. Zephyr ‘ring. The latter shifts quicker, and is a better match for the 13-29t Veloce cassette.

Pacenti SL23 Rims
These wheels are still as true as the day I received them. The White Industries T11 hubs haven’t required any adjustment or lubrication, and the freehub has quieted down slightly (but it’s still louder than, say, a Shimano unit). Brake track wear appears minimal despite testing half-a-dozen different brake pad compounds. I’ve read reports that some people have difficulty mounting tires on the SL23 rims, but switching to thinner rim strip (e.g. Stan’s yellow tape) usually eases installation.

Carradice SQR Saddlebags
Since posting my original review, I’ve put another 600 miles on the SQR Slim saddlebag. With its spacious capacity and easy on/off mounting system, it’s become my favorite bag in the Carradice family. Traversing dirt roads and trails on over-inflated 28mm tires hasn’t loosened the mounting hardware, and the waxed cotton fabric has done a great job of fending off late-afternoon thundershowers. I continue to notice the bag brushing the backs of my thighs, but it’s usually restricted to when I remain in the saddle when stopped.

Things I Like: Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix

My first exposure to Skratch Labs’ Exercise Hydration Mix was a trial-by-fire affair. The temperature was 95 degrees, and I was about to begin my 12-mile evening commute. Perfect conditions to test a new hydration product, right? As it turned out, the Skratch Labs mix worked beautifully, and it quickly earned a place on my things-I-like list.

GRAVELBIKE.com Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix

Skratch Lab’s Exercise Hydration Mix has its roots in competitive cycling. Known previously as Secret Drink Mix, it was developed for professional racers who were tired of the bloating and stomach issues caused by regular sports drinks. The unique moniker came about because racers would secretly dump their sponsors’ drink mixes, and replace it with the Skratch Labs powder.

What makes the Exercise Hydration Mix different from other sports or electrolyte drinks? Fewer calories and more electrolytes, for one. The mix doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, and Skratch Labs uses only real fruit–not funky chemicals–for flavoring. The end result is a mix that tastes lighter and cleaner, and is less likely to induce bloating or other GI problems. While Exercise Hydration Mix does contain sugar (9g in an 8-ounce serving), it’s approximately 35% less than regular sports drinks.

GRAVELBIKE.com Skratch Labs exercise hydration mix

If you find yourself diluting sports drinks because the taste is too sweet, then you’ll be right at home with the refreshing, subtle flavor of Exercise Hydration Mix. With previous drink mixes, I found that I would tire of the flavor (and sweetness) as the miles stacked up. Eventually, my liquid intake would drop due to my taste buds’ protest, and I’d begin to suffer the nasty effects of insufficient hydration and electrolyte loss. After switching to Skratch Labs’ mix, however, that’s a thing of the past.

Exercise Hydration Mix gets props because it does exactly what it claims to do. When I drink Skratch Labs, I feel better during and after my rides. My mind is sharper, and at the same time, I’m more relaxed on the bike. Best of all, though, is that I can ride longer and farther when I use Exercise Hydration Mix. Anything that can do that definitely deserves a spot on my things-I-like list.

Skratch Labs’ products are available from select retailers, or directly from the company.