After the disaster that was our last foot pump (the atrocious Autocare Single Barrel foot pump which gave up the ghost after two uses), we decided to play it a little safer. We did this in two ways: firstly by going for a more familiar and established brand and secondly by willing to pay a little more. This resulted in us getting the Michelin double barrel foot pump.
Straight out of the box, the Michelin pump immediately felt a lot stronger and sturdier than the previous Autocare model. That looked flimsy; this one looks like it could go 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. It looks slightly different from the traditional an "open design" of most pumps (where two strips of metal connect the footplate to the bellows of the pump, leaving a gap down the centre). This one has a footplate that stretches the entire length of the pump.
Although it makes it look slightly odd and adds a little to the size and weight, this design has a number of distinct advantages. First of all, it makes the whole thing a lot sturdier. The fact that the two legs of the pump are connected by a solid block of plastic means that it can endure some rough treatment without giving up the ghost. It also makes it much more stable. The slight increase in weight makes it less likely to fall over if you pump a little too enthusiastically - a problem I have encountered with several previous pumps. This one is steady as a rock, whatever sort of surface it's used on.
The final advantage is that the extended footpad area makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to use. Other pumps only had a very small footpad area so you can only really put your toes or the very end of your foot onto it. This makes it easy for your foot to slip off during use. Thanks to the Michelin's extended footpad, you can fit your whole foot on there, making it a lot easier to use.
A slight downside to this sturdier build is that it does take a little more effort to actually depress the footpad and the first few times I used it, it felt rather stiff. The amount of pressure you need to apply is considerably higher than other pumps and caught me by surprise.
Using the pump is a relatively straightforward process... at least once you have worked out how to unlock it! To try and limit the amount of space it takes up, the pump comes locked in the "down" position. To unlock it, there are a couple of small plastic bolts near the edge which have to be removed. Until you get the hang of it, this is easier said than done. You are supposed to line up two small lines on the bolts with two equivalent lines on the pump and press down on the footpad to release it. In reality, this doesn't always work and it can take a fair amount of wiggling and jiggling before you can get the pump to release. The same is true when putting it away again, as you have to wiggle and jiggle the bolts to get them in the right position to lock.
The Michelin pump comes with a number of extra nozzles so that you can use it on different things (car/bike tyres, airbeds, footballs etc). Sensibly, the one you are likely to use most (for tyres) is the default fitting. However, there's a slightly curious design decision been taken here. Rather than being the traditional kind of nozzle (fit it on to the tyre, then push down a clip to secure it), the Michelin fitting is different. You attach the nozzle to the tyre and screw it in until you hear the hissing noise that means it's connected, then turn it a few more times so that the air is no longer escaping. This can be slightly awkward to get right and the first couple of times I wasn't at all sure that everything was properly connected!
The pump's main drawback arises from the analogue dial which tells you the pressure. There are a number of issues with this. The writing on the dial is not terribly clear and I have found that you have to stop and bend down to check the reading, which is a bit of a pain. This brings us onto a second problem. Although the pump gives a readout using several different measurements, the psi gauge (the one most commonly used in the UK) is printed at the bottom of the gauge. Every other pump I have ever used, this reading has always been on the top and I almost got caught out and started reading from the wrong gauge, which could have been disastrous!
Finally, and more seriously, it can be tricky to get highly accurate readings. Oddly, the measurements on it go up in twos, rather than the more traditional one. If you are trying to pump up a tyre to (say) 35 PSI, trying to decide exactly where 35 lies (rather than 34 or 36) is a problem.
Speedwise, it's not the fastest pump in the world. In fact, I'd say it was pretty slow: slower even than my previous Autocare pump, which was only a single barrel one. Theoretically, this one should be twice as fast, since it is double barrelled. It's not so bad if you only use if for pumping a tiny bit of air into some tyres, but if you're trying to inflate something from scratch (such as an air bed), then it will take a while.
The pump cost £19.99 from Halfords, and was a bit more than ideally we would have liked to pay. However, after witnessing the false economy from the Autocare pump we decided it was worth paying a little more. This has proved a good decision, the sturdy nature of the Michelin pump make it more reliable and comfortable to use and whilst there are a few issues with the speed and reading the pressure gauge, these are minor irritants, rather than serious design flaws
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013