Blackburn's Core mini pump is small enough to fit in most handlebar bags, frame bags and backpacks. It features a retractable hose with a Presta valve chuck head and valve core tightening tool in the base of the pump. It's fully sealed and has a lifetime warranty making it a serious contender for one of the best mini pumps on the market plus it's reasonably priced.
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Blackburn Core Mini Pump - Technical specification
The Core Mini Pump (Core from now on) is a dark grey anodised alumimium pump and has a full rubber cap covering the chuck and retractable hose head and another rubber seal between the handle and the head of the pump. It’s 230mm long and weighs 124g. It’s designed to be used for mountain bike, cyclo-cross and gravel bike tyres but not high pressure road bike tyres. There is another Core model from Blackburn called the Slim for the roadies although no max pressure is provided on the Blackburn website for the Mini.
The Core pump is supplied with a plastic bottle boss mount clip with a rubber strap to secure the pump should you hit rough section of trail.
Removing the tight grey rubber head cap allows access to the knurled bronze chuck head complete with rubber o-ring to prevent it from rattling in it’s plastic housing and doubling up a grip to aid cold fingers pulling it out. The O-ring also clips into a internal groove in the cap making it stay put once clicked in. The chuck is attached to a 150mm long retractable hose and slides in and out of the pump without effort.
The Bronze head looks classy and has just one valve option – Presta - so if you need to inflate a fat valve regularly you’ll need a rare Shrader to Presta valve adapter or use a different pump altogether.
In the base of the handle you’ll find a valve core tool. It’s a knurled, anodised bronze, stepped disc a little larger than a Pound/Euro coin with valve core flat in its centre. It has yet another o-ring at the base of its threads to provide satisfying stop and prevent over tightening and damaging the plastic base of the pump.
Blackburn Core Mini Pump - Performance
I’ve been using this Blackburn Core mini pump for quite some time, certainly well over a year hence the condition of it might look a little worn in places in the pics. It’s been on many trips, and spent plenty of time in and out of various bags and strapped to the side of whatever bike I have been riding at the time. The option of the retractable hose saves a lot of back and hand ache although you still have to pay attention to not stress the valve.
The danger with a lot of screw-on hose mini pumps with tubeless tyres is that once pumped up, undoing the valve can be a bit disaster if you accidently undo the valve core at the same time and it shoots past your ear onto the trail somewhere. The Blackburn Core is not completely immune to this, but it offers an excellent easy to reach useful solution in its handle. The valve core tool the pump is named after. Simply remove the tool, tighten your valve core and pump away. Using tool prior to inflation has prevented many unfortunate valve core issues. It is probably not essential you use it every time, but that is up to you its not exactly difficult to do.
The valve core tool is so easy to use that it has supplanted all of the small purpose made tools I’ve collected over the years for the same purpose. It sits snuggly on top of the valve and turning the large knurled outer diameter edge couldn’t be easier. It’s also great at undoing recalcitrant valves gummed up with latex. The beauty of this tool is that it is always to hand when you need it most, inflating or deflating your tyres.
Leaving that core tool out when you pump does mean there is a hard edge to the base of the handle as you pump which might be uncomfortable if you had to perform 300 strokes to get the pressure you need, but somewhere between 100-150, it shouldn’t cause much concern, especially if you are wearing gloves….or you could of course put the tool back in.
In use the pump is pretty efficient, maybe not as good as the Silca Gravelero, but not that far behind and due to the smoothness of the action, 20 extra strokes is not going to be an issue. For those wanting to know it reached 24.7psi in the 700 x 45 gravel tyre after 100 strokes, so not too shabby really. The test was repeated 3 times for an average and each time the tyre was fully deflated by removing the valve core and the pressure measured by a SKS digital gauge. The Silca Gravelero reached 28.6 for reference.
The large rubber cap that clips onto the head of the pump to cover the Chuck has kept the valve free from muck regardless of where I’ve carried it and is still snuggly fitting and shows no signs of giving up its duties.
The single time it has let me down was when I needed to inflate a fat- valved £230 test bike and I had no reverse valve adapters (in fact I didn’t know they existed, but they do). We had to use the car compressor to get out of that one but in truth that’s the only time it hasn’t been of use. If you own a collection of bikes you’ll know how many have fat valves, if any, you have and then you will be able to decide if this pump will work for you. Its worth noting that children’s bikes use the fat valve a lot so if you have a kids get an adaptor or consider a different pump.
Blackburn Core Mini Pump - Verdict
So what about the rivals? We reviewed the very similar looking Silca Gravelero recently and that has many of the same plus points plus a reversible valve chuck with smart lever lock, plus it’s more efficient, but it is 2.3x more expensive and it has no valve core tool.
SKS’s AirboyXL impressed us at £27 with its reversible valve head and ergonomic design to aid pumping but has no flexi tube. It’s 180mm long and weighs in at approx. 90g so it’s small and easy to stash.
The £33 Truflow MiniMTN High Volume pump impressed Liam with its flexy hose complete with reversible valve head with lever lock and although it’s not as well sealed as the Core pump is even shorter at 180mm and lighter at 118g. Only the plastic lever gave Liam cause for concern.
The Blackburn Core mini pump is really well made and well-sealed mini pump tough enough to last for years and years. The valve might not be reversible (which might not matter to you) but everything else is spot on plus its got that Blackburn lifetime warranty. Highly recommended.