There are some items in cycling where the range of available options is a bit staggering. Floor pumps are definitely one of those. You can find pumps ranging from $20, all the way up to the $450 Silca pump. Looking at what’s out there, it’s tempting to go with extremes, but let’s talk about the Birzman Maha Apogee IV. It falls right in the sweet spot of the curve. You get great features, but you aren’t spending a ton.
Birzman offers a range of products under the Maha Apogee umbrella, and they are all similar with slight differences. Whatever you might need, you’ll be sure to find something that fits just by looking carefully at the various models. No matter which Apogee you choose, you’ll get a similar shape with a similar valve. They all have a 5 degree tilt to the body, except for the portable tiny tanker, and the valve works with both presta and schrader valves.
The differences in them come down to materials, L-shaped or straight valve, a valve with or without a controlled release button, max pressure, and price. The Apogee II runs about $90 and has an aluminium base, aluminium body, and an aluminium handle. It also puts out up to 220psi, and it has an L shaped valve with a controlled air discharge button.
Moving up the line, the Apogee III comes in at $80 and gives you the same 220psi with the same adapter. It’s got an aluminum body with an aluminum base and a wooden handle. Next is the Apogee IV. The IV runs about $60 and has a similar shape to the base, but it’s made from a plastic instead of aluminium. You lose the L shape of the adapter, plus the max psi goes down to 160psi. It keeps the wooden handle and the controlled air discharge.
For me, this is where the search stops, but Birzman does offer additional models. They have the Apogee V with no controlled air discharge and a plastic handle with a different shaped plastic base, a couple of MTB specific options, and a travel pump.
I like the Apogee IV because it offers a great balance between price and features. It’s a pleasure to own nice stuff, and a floor pump is something you use a lot. The Apogee IV looks great, and it’s stable. But you save a bit of money compared to the other models. Unlike the Apogee V, it retains the controlled air discharge, an easy way to dial in exact pressures, and still has a wider, more stable, base. It also keeps the luxurious wooden handle which is really a pleasure to use.
It does lose a max 220psi rating, but unless you ride track, you are unlikely to have a need for 220psi. It also loses the L shaped adapter you can find on the Apogee II and Apogee III. That’s something I’d love to have, but it works fine without.
During my time using it, I’ve mostly been very happy with it. I still haven’t really figured out how to use the valve as it’s described, but pushing it on works perfectly. If you need to use it with a schrader valve, just hold the collar back, and push it on in a similar fashion. I’ve never experienced it leaking air or blowing off. The hose is long and supple, not stiff at all, so it’s easy to position on the tire valve, and between the precise gauge and the controlled air discharge button (air release button), you can always dial in an exact pressure.
The wooden handle feels comfortable in your hand, and overall it’s an item that looks good in the kitchen next to my bike. It’s a little thing, but our house is small enough that my bike, and by default the pump I use, is basically on display at all times. It’s nice to have something that looks good.
As much as I like it, there are a few things I’d love to see changed. I would appreciate having a positionable arrow so that it’s easy to dial in your preferred pressure without thinking much. Along those same lines, I’d also love to see the gauge moved from the base to somewhere higher up the body of the pump.
These aren’t big complaints, though, as the face of the gauge has good contrast, and it’s easy enough to see. The bottom line is that for about $60, the Birzman Maha Apogee IV offers a floor pump that looks good, feels good in your hands, and has all the features you are likely to need. You can save a bit of money over more expensive offerings without going so low that you give up features.
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