There is no way to discuss the Silca Pocket Impero, or really any Silca product, without the price being the elephant in the room. The Pocket Impero costs $120 when even the most expensive offerings from competitors top out in the $50 range. That means the first question that pops into my mind is whether it’s worth it? I can’t ignore that question, but it’s also not nearly as easy to answer as you might think. How do you even evaluate if it’s worth spending so much more than other options? I started with the performance.
First of all, you’ve got to temper expectations a bit. It’s not magic, it’s still a small, pocketable, pump. Using it is, without a doubt, a more pleasant experience than other options I’ve used, but it still takes a lot of work to get a tyre pumped up. The biggest difference I noticed, compared to other options, is that the feeling doesn’t change much between the start of filling a tyre and the end. Obviously, the extreme ends have some variability. However unlike most pumps, which experience a pretty dramatic ramp up of intensity as you fill the tyre, the Pocket Impero has much less of that ramp up as you fill the tyre. Arms get tired as you approach two hundred strokes, but the amount of pressure required isn’t particularly high.
You can attribute this to the precisely machined internals matched with a rubber air gasket that most pumps use. As you pump a tyre, compressing the air and the friction in the pump’s moving parts will generate heat. Most pumps will begin to expand from this heat and the internal seal, typically a rubber doughnut, begins to let more and more air slip past. This limits the amount of air you can force into your tyre. To avoid this, Silca uses a leather gasket that changes shape to fill the additional space as the body of the pump expands with the heat. The effect is that the pump continues to work just as well when hot as it does when cold. It’s not a drastic difference, but you can definitely feel it.
Aside from performance, it’s also important to consider how often you’ll be replacing something cheaper. The Pocket Impero has a 25 year warranty. Silca is sending a clear signal that this is the last small pump you’ll ever need to purchase. In the short time I’ve been using it, I have obviously not experienced any issues, but talk about Silca in any cycling group, and you are bound to find people who’ve had their original Silca floor pumps for time periods that seem somewhat unimaginable to me. I can’t say that you are likely to experience failures with other mini-pumps on a regular basis, but Silca is definitely making the argument that you should only have to buy quality gear once.
Stepping away from the question of whether this is worth the cost, there are some other features that are worth mentioning. It’s not the smallest pump out there, but I find the size to really hit the sweet spot. It’s small enough to fit into a jersey pocket without issue, but the circumference really feels perfect in your hand. The head is exactly the same as the larger Impero frame pump, and it is a quality design that fits tightly without being an issue to get on or off.
You will also see the silicone sleeve mentioned on the Silca site. They talk about it being designed to insulate your hand against heat build up. I can’t say I’ve ever really had that issue with other pumps, but what the silicone does provide is a nonslip surface to grab when pumping. Then, to lock the pump closed, you simply slide the silicone into the lower metal section. It’s not the easiest thing to get locked, but it’s an elegant design that isn’t ever going to break. Definitely a K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!) solution that works well for the user and, I’m sure, for the manufacturer as well.
The bottom line on this piece is that I can’t definitively say whether it is worth paying more than double other options out there. What I can tell you is that the Pocket Impero is an extremely well designed pocket pump. It might not be magic, but it works better than the competition, and it’s backed by a 25 year warranty.
Compare prices and buy tools from:
|Chain Reaction||Wiggle||Merlin Cycles||Ribble Cycles|
|Rutland Cycling||Hargroves Cycles||Cyclestore||Evans Cycles|
|ProBikeKit||AW Cycles||Biketart||Cycle Surgery|
|Leisure Lakes Bikes|