First Impressions: MSW Airlift 220 Pump

When I began leading group rides a couple years ago I thought it would be wise to carry extra spares for those just in case scenarios. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was needing a pump that worked with Presta and Schrader valves. My personal bikes all have Presta valves, so I was used to carrying a Presta-only pump. But more than once, we found ourselves in search of a Schrader-compatible pump. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for a pump that performed equally well with both types of valves. Recently MSW’s Airlift 220 pump ($27.99 MSRP) popped up on the new arrivals page of my favorite retailer’s website, so I decided to give it a try.

Utilizing full-body aluminum construction, the 8.5-inch-long (216 mm) Airlift 220 weighs 165 grams (5.8 ounces, including bracket/hardware). A 5-inch (127 mm) telescoping hose features a thread-on chuck that’s compatible with Presta and Schrader valves. Cross-hatch texturing provides extra grip, and a rubber seal keeps the handle in place while protecting the pump’s innards from dirt and moisture. The Airlift 220 is rated to 80 psi, and like all MSW products, it comes with two-year warranty.

Unlike many competitors’ so-called smart heads, the Airlift’s chuck employs separate fittings for Presta and Schrader valves. To eliminate any possible confusion, the chucks are marked with the valve types’ names. Threading and unthreading the 220 proved exceptionally easy regardless of valve type. Any air loss that occurred during removal was minimal (approximately 0.1-0.2 psi according to Quarq’s TyreWiz). Some riders shy away from thread-on pump heads for fear of their tendency to remove Presta valve cores, but I’m pleased to report that I didn’t encounter any unplanned valve extractions during my test period.

The Airlift’s compact size belies the pump’s efficiency. Inflating a 650B x 47 tire to 30 psi took an average of 170 strokes. Even with a relatively short 5.1″ (130 mm) stroke length, the 220’s performance is on par with longer, heavier mini-pumps. Perceived effort was consistent throughout the pressure range, with minimal ramp-up at higher pressures. The Airlift’s oversized 1.2″ (30 mm) handles provided a solid, comfortable grip with bare or gloved hands. And because the MSW’s hose is perpendicular to the valve, finding an efficient (read, comfortable) position is easy (and imparts less stress on the valve).

While it’s too soon to comment on long-term durability, I predict that MSW’s Airlift 220 will see plenty of use over the coming months (stay tuned for a post-summer update). Whatever the Airlift lacks in fancy colors or exotic materials, it more than makes up for in functionality. Riders who run low-volume, high-pressure tires, however, may want to consider the company’s Airlift 210 model, as it’s rated to 160 psi (the pumps share similar construction and utilize the same Presta/Schrader head).

Disclosure: MSW provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.