Put Something In The Box
Question: What do you (hopefully) carry with you on every ride, almost never use, but when needed it’s the single-most important thing in existence, and if you’re truly lucky you’re allowed use it several days in a row?
Yeah, that’s right, it’s a pump. And yes, this is a review of a pump—the Portland Design Works magic flute™, to be exact.
When PDW sent their magic flute™($60USD) pump for me to ride/review, I was stoked. Although, that same stoked feeling you get with nearly every product you buy/receive is a little different with a pump. Don’t get me wrong, the shiny metallic body, the laser etched logo, the anodized green shaft, and the elegantly clean look of the CO2 attachment were all irresistible. But when it comes down to it, I didn’t want to use the pump at all. It’s not unlike a North-African despot’s golden fire extinguisher. It looks fantastic, but you hope you never have to use it.
But it’s inevitable. Just as inevitable as an Italian pro receiving “nutritional advice” from Ferrari, you’ll eventually get a flat. That inevitability increases when you inject something new into your routine—like a new pump. Not long after they sent me the pump, I got a DM from PDW inquiring as to whether or not I had a chance to try it out yet. I had to answer. By replying “No.” I knew I’d get a chance sooner than later. I was right.
Nearly a week after answering PDW, I had more mechanicals and flats in a span of 3 days than I’ve had in years. So how did the magic flute™ perform in this ruthless theatre of action? Flawlessly. First flat allowed me to marvel at its powerful pumping action. It efficiently inflated the flaccid butyl vessel into the stout, weight supporting, race-ready 700c tube it was born to be. No, I didn’t engage in the ridiculousness of a pump count, nor did I test if it reached the appropriate atmosphere or not.
The pump is surprisingly light considering its all alloy construction. Additionally, I’m a huge fan of the thumb-lock inclusion on the device. Not all mini-pumps have one, making the connection with the valve imperfect. The only thing I could see making this better would be making the handle convert to a ‘T’ shape. It’s not necessary on this pump, but it would’ve made the magic flute™ perfect, at least for me.
The second flat allowed me to used the CO2 device. It very clearly is labeled OPEN and CLOSE with directional arrows on the top. This makes it extremely easy to get it right the first time. I know I’ve been mid-ride, super tired, winded, and made a mistake in the order of its use and blew two(!) cartridges out. That day, I was riding minimalist (read: stupid), carrying just the inflation chuck. Had to ask a passer-by to for a pump to use. There he was, clad in full-Fred hi-vis (not the cool kind), looking smugly at the pro-boy wearing a full team kit using his hand pump. Not cool.
Therein lies the beauty of the magic flute™, it has a backup plan. Burn a CO2, and you still have the traditional pump to not only just get you home, but to continue your ride at a decent pressure.
The PDW magic flute™ pump is nearly a perfect product. From aesthetics to performance, it simply shines. I say nearly perfect due to my desire for a t-handle, and well, it’s a pump. No pump could ever receive a perfect PRO rating. Except when it gets you where you need to go.
PRO FACTORS: Beautifully designed, highly efficient, surprisingly lightweight.
OPPORTUNITIES: Would love to see the addition of a t-handle, plus it can’t help that it’s a pump…
RATING: 95% – Not only does it’s job with aplomb, it simply looks PRO.