The Sterling SG by Crankbrothers is a compact mini pump that's very well suited to bikepackers – or those who like to ride with no pack at all. It comes with a mount, has a big gauge for its size and features a neat high volume/high pressure switch to suit any tyre. Pricing is good given the quality, though the multi-valve head doesn't always engage well.
Measuring just 198mm, the Sterling SG is a pretty compact hand pump. It's also slim, but don't let its size fool you. The body and shaft are tough 6061-T6 aluminium, and have a cross hatched grip at one end. The head is a rugged plastic with grippy textured bars around it.
Built into the head is the gauge, which is pretty big for the size of the pump. It's easy to read, but with markings only every 5psi it's hard to be completely precise.
The head automatically adjusts to Presta, Scharder or Dunlop valves. Unfortunately, this is where the pump struggles. Proper engagement is hit and miss at the best of times, taking multiple attempts to get the pump to fit and work properly. In this case, I wouldn't mind seeing a more traditional solution with a screw-on end and inserts.
The included bike mount has a built-in dust cover for the head, which is great if you're bolting it onto the bike, but leaves the head open to debris when packed into a bag. Snipping the cover off of the mount is an easy workaround, if that doesn't bother you.
On the bottom you find the high volume/high pressure switch, with handy markings showing you which direction to twist for each function. The switch works with a positive click. The high volume function is good up to 40psi, after which a twist gives you high pressure mode and up to 100psi – great if you're a roadie as well.
Using this pump is a pleasant experience. It's really solid with very little wobble in the shaft, and the only frustration is that picky auto-select head. It also takes some time to inflate your tyre properly, but that's inevitable given the chamber size.
This pump is best suited to narrower-tyred gravel riders, commuters or bike packers who need an easy-stow pump and gauge. But even if you're on fat tyres, if you're looking for a quality pump to stick in your pocket and don't mind putting the strokes, the Sterling SG is a very valid choice.
You might also like: