Silca Gravelero is a well-made, easy-to-use mini pump with a short hose and a neat folding thumb lock for the valve chuck removing the need to unscrew anything when you have finished inflating. It’s certainly not cheap, but it works well in terms of the best mountain bike pumps.
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Silca Gravelero - Technical specification
The Gravelero is made from aluminium and anodised in smart smooth satin black. At 240mm long it’s longer than most mini pumps but inside the head of the pump sits a retractable flexible hose with an ingenious thumb lock lever with reversible red and black anodised valve chuck. This thumb lock offers simple installation and removal from any valve and is a clever bit of design miniaturisation. The Gravelero pump is aimed at the gravel market which means it officially tops out below the HP road pumps at ‘just’ 80psi.
The Gravelero mini pump has a frame mount and a decent rubber strap to keep it in place. The pump is sealed against the elements with a grey rubber shaft seal between the handle and the head, and a small rubber cover for the chuck which sticks out the end of the head to prevent dirt from getting in.
At the base of the handle, the Silca logo has been installed in a slightly domed plastic cap to aid comfort when using the pump.
Silca Gravelero - Performance
Silca says the Gravelero pushes 35% more air than other pumps its size but at 240mm it is actually longer than any of the other mini pumps I have in front of me so it is hard to tell if that is true. Certainly 100 strokes of Gravelero produced more psi (28.6) than 100 strokes of a very similar Blackburn Core mini pump which is 10mm shorter. I did this test three times and the Gravelero consistently produced more pressure from the 100 strokes but an average of 13.64%, not the 35% claim. Still, a win is a win.
The length (240mm) can also cause issues with where you would normally carry it. It didn’t fit into most of my handlebar bags and is a little too long for a back pocket in my opinion, so I resorted to bunging it in my frame bags during testing when I didn’t use the frame boss mount. I’m not sure about you, but attached to the side of the downtube in direct line of fire from all the cack the front wheel throws at it doesn’t seem like a sensible place to put it, certainly not in the UK from autumn through to spring.
In use, the pump is smooth and comfortable to pump to high pressure (*for a gravel tyre) due to Silca’s logo end cap having a slightly curved shape. It could be better with a sculpted end cap but that would ruin its good looks.
The black anodised body appears to be standing up very well to the in-out life of a mini pump. The grey rubber seal around the shaft has kept the crud out of the inflation mechanism although the small little rubber plug that covers the chuck is only so-so. It’s not a tight fit over the chuck in the first place and it’s 50/50 whether it will be in place when you take the pump out to use. It looks a little odd, like an afterthought, in that its angled cap doesn’t quite cover the exposed section of the chuck, let alone the reversible chucks threads – an area I would think you don’t want filling up with crud. I would have thought a larger complete cover would have been a better bet ala Blackburn’s Core mini pump.
The star of the Gravelero is the thumb lever and chuck. Many mini pumps with hoses have to be screwed onto the valve which always provides a moment of trepidation when you unscrew them hoping your valve core stays in the valve and not flying into the bushes. No issue with the Gravelero thumb lock. It works like a track pump and places no stress on the valve and prevents any loss of air. It flips on and off with ease, folds flat against the hose, and neatly slides back inside the pump head (along with the mini hose) when not in use. It’s a very clever functional piece design. Nicely done, Silca.
The retractable hose has a reversible chuck head which is handy if you find yourself stopping and offering to pump someone’s Schraeder valve (that’s the fat car valve) tyre up for them but in reality, none of my family’s bikes has that valve, nor does anybody I ride with. The fat valve tends to be fitted on OE bikes at sub £1000 so if you have a mixed fleet, it will be useful, but in reality, I suspect you’ll flip it once to admire the anodised chuck and that was it. But hang on, if the only tube you can buy on your tour of Ireland/Finland/Morocco has the fat valve you’ll be okay, it’s there. That’s planning ahead. (Or you can just carry valve converters, Ed).
Silca Gravelero - Value
At this point we should mention the price of the Silca Gravelero mini pump; it costs a solid £92 which is a lot of money for a mini pump. It weighs in at 144g on my Park scales so it’s not lightweight, and as we’ve already mentioned, it’s pretty long.
So what about its competitors? One mini pump I have to mention is The Blackburn Core for £34.99. Side by side these pumps could be in the same line-up. They both feature the same shape handle and body with the same grey rubber dirt seal.
The Silca wins out with that super cool thumb lock and reversible chuck head but the Blackburn fights back with a valve core tool and a proper over-the-whole valve head dirt cap. Both pumps are pretty efficient in use, the Silca is more comfortable to hold due to not having the knurled valve core tool end and reached a higher pressure on the 100-stroke test
Depending on how much you like the thumb lock, and I really do, or the valve core tool, which has proved exceptionally useful multiple times, will determine which one you decide to opt for. Both brands stand by their products with lifetime warranties. Check out our Blackburn Core review.
Liam was impressed in 2019 by the Truflo MiniMTN High Volume pump and although the price has risen to £33 it still features a Flexi tube with a valve head with a lever lock system albeit made from plastic.
The £35 Lezyne Grip Drive HP was well-liked by Stu and weighed in at 114g for the medium 231mm version, there is also a short version. He liked the hose option which puts less strain on the valve and your back and the lightly knurled end for grip. Lezyne doesn’t fit a valve core tool but it does offer an air bleed button for letting air out if you’ve pumped a little hard.
The £27 SKS Airboy XL impressed us with its performance, but there is no hose with this one and you have to flip the valve head inside around to work with both valves, hardly a drag. The shaped plastic ends were comfortable to hold and being only 180mm long the pump was easy to stash in a pocket.
Silca Gravelero - Verdict
I think it’s fair to say that the Silca is an expensive luxury, costing double if not triple some pretty decent pumps. Its extra length may help it achieve greater pressure with fewer strokes and the lovely valve thumb lock works like a dream, but with no valve core tool and a slightly ill-fitting rubber cap mean there are still improvements to be made. If you have the cash and want an efficient pump that is easy on your back and valves but not your wallet, you won’t be disappointed. However, others on the market do the same for much less.