The most noticeable feature of the Blackburn Piston 3 floor pump is probably the huge 4” gauge. It’s something that will definitely jump out at you, and you’ll be familiar with the problem it solves. If you’ve ever squinted down, perhaps in partial darkness before an early morning ride, and second guessed what number that actually is.
The gauge isn’t just big, it’s also been well designed. The numbers are easy to read with good contrast. Plus the design of the needle is such that it’s easy to see where it’s pointing. The gauge is the focal point, but it’s not the only pleasant detail.
The Piston 3 isn’t the cheapest pump, with an MSRP of $49.99, but it certainly doesn’t fall into the upper echelon either. If anything, I’d say it leans towards the inexpensive side of things, and for that money you get that great gauge. You also get a full metal barrel and stable metal base. The handle is indeed plastic, and it feels a bit cheap, but it’s 10.6” inches wide and very functional. The hose also has a generous length at 37” inches long.
The only thing I felt fell somewhat short was the pump head. My only criticism is the same one I’d level against a wide swathe of pumps. It’s a lever operated head, and it’s more or less the same design you’ll find on almost every pump on the market. Using it means you’ve got to jam it on the valve and then flip the lever up. Once you are done, you have to apply a good amount of pressure to pull it off and not to jam your hand into the spokes as it finally comes loose.
Many people out there will be shaking their heads at me thinking I’m ridiculous. Like I said, a lot of other pumps, although not all on the market, use a similar design. Most people are fine with this and you do indeed get used to it. It’s not something that should mean purchasing anything else, but it’s something I find annoying. In fact, my other pump, with an easier to use head design, can be really finicky about which valves it will work with.
The Blackburn Piston 3 should work well with any valve out there, including both presta and schrader. The process of switching between them involves unscrewing the tip of the pump head, turning a washer around and screwing the tip back on. I like that there are no pieces to lose in that process.
The other really nice feature of the pump head is that it has a bleed valve. Bleed valves are not something that get a ton of use. Typically only found on higher end pumps, they are handy when you need them.
The bottom line is that your $49.99 buys you a great pump. It will handle 160psi, has a generous hose length, a stable metal base and barrel. The pump head will work with both presta and schrader and has a bleed valve. And all of this is covered by a lifetime warranty. That’s really fantastic value, and you aren’t going to beat that unless you spend more money. But even with more money in the budget, you’d be hard pressed to match many of the details this pump offers. The Blackburn Piston 3 is a good buy.
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