Stuff We Like: Silca Super Pista Floor Pump

We like Silca pumps. They’re clearly designed to last a very long time; the critical parts are made from metal and wood, and replacement parts are available so they can be rebuilt for a few dollars when the seals eventually wear out.

Our favorite is the Super Pista. Features include an 8″ Beechwood handle; a 60cm tall chamber for high volume and upright pumping; a metal gauge mounted at the base where it’s safe in the event the pump gets knocked over; and a bomb-proof brass head with no levers or other moving parts to break.

Silcas are a little expensive, but they’ll outlast most other pumps by many years. Good stuff.

Silca

22 Responses to “Stuff We Like: Silca Super Pista Floor Pump”

  • Chris Baskind says:

    Funny you should post this today. I was thinking about which of my bike equipment most needs replacement today. I’ve decided it’s the Expensive Pump that Doesn’t Work Well. Bought it because it was a bit cheaper than a Pista. Stupid mistake.

  • eddie f says:

    I hope your blog allows for contrasting opinions and experiences. I never had particularly good luck with the Silca no-lever pump head. Yes, I know about replacing the rubber grommet, etc., but that thing used to drvie me nuts. Maybe operator error. I have had fine luck with both the Joe Blow Pro and Topeak customer services…when needed. Silca stuff certainly looks the part.

  • AndyN says:

    My super pista is only 16 years old, but it seems pleasingly timeless. I’ve replaced the o-ring in the base twice, and the chuck once. Just don’t do what my roommate did and cover the small breather hole with stickers. I can recall being cross with him for a day or two for having “broken” my new pump. Fortunately, it was an easy fix.

  • John says:

    Hmm… I’d just been researching floor pumps last night…

    It should be noted, for anyone new to cycling, that it’s possible, and preferable, to obtain a pump that is designed for the type of tire which one is inflating. While the one shown here, the Silca Super Pista, is excellent for high-pressure 700c tires, Silca’s Terra would be a better choice for larger volume, lower-pressure MTB tires, owing to a larger pump body. The larger diameter the pump body, the more air it pumps per stroke. But it quickly become more difficult to operate to higher pressures as the pressure builds in the tire, hence the the need for the smaller diameter Super Pista for those tires. It’s the old “right tool for the job” mantra.

  • Stephen D. says:

    My Silca from about 1980 (that’s 30 years!) is still working fine. It has the Columbus tubing, with sticker, with a few chips and dings here and there. I’ve only replaced the hose. Everything else is completely original.

    I think I remember that Silca used the same tubing that the Italian frame builders used for building steel frames in this era. Can anyone confirm that?

    A true cycling classic.

  • MarvinK says:

    Another brand of nicer floor pumps worth looking at is Lezyne. The chuck is a love/hate thing… but for me it’s love. http://www.lezyne.com/products/floor-pumps

  • brad says:

    I’ve been really satisfied for the past nine years with my $25 Beto floor pump from MEC. It also has a steel barrel, wooden handle, metal gauge at the base, and feels rock-solid reliable. The killer feature for me is that the thumb-lock head has two separate holes: one for Schrader, one for Presta, so you don’t have to change anything. My touring bike uses Presta tubes while my city bike uses Schrader, so this is perfect for me.

  • Grateful says:

    What Eddie F. says. I hated my Silca pump for a couple of years and in frustration one day tossed it into the land fill. I don’t know what model it was – but what a piece of crap. OLD technology. I don’t think it was this model.

    I replaced it with a Joe Blow pump and have not had PMS (Pump Malfunction Syndrome) in 5 years. :-)

  • Alan says:

    I’m not surprised to hear people have had trouble with the pump head – it takes some fussing to get it adjusted just right. But, once I found the sweet spot — not too tight, not too loose — I haven’t had to touch it in years.

    Alan

  • Phil says:

    I’ll have to be another dissenting voice. In less than a year, the wooden handle came off, threads stripped. Superglue worked for awhile, but eventually handle and shaft separated again. Tried cutting a length of doweling, gluing it in place and rethreading. That lasted about as long as a June frost. I gave up. Put the Silca where in belonged in the first place (in the trash) and bought a Park PFP-4. No more problems.

    The Silca has classic looks but poor execution. The wood/metal interface isn’t done properly. The handle should be drilled through and bolted on. In addition, the Park has the pressure gauge at the top, where these old eyes can actually see it.

  • brad says:

    Speaking of readability of the pressure gauge, another thing I like about the MEC Beto floor pump is that it has an adjustable marker that you can use to set the desired pressure. No need to squint at the meter reading from afar, just pump until the needle on the gauge lines up with the clearly visible marker.

    The MEC pump is made in China, but it doesn’t have a cheap “Made in China” feel about it; it’s a well-thought-out piece of machinery and the price is right. I have had zero problems with it for the nine years I’ve owned it. I see mixed reviews about it from users on the MEC website, so maybe the build quality isn’t quite as uniform as it seems based on my experience and the ones I’ve seen in the store.

  • Pete says:

    I recently bought an inexpensive nashbar pump largely because it had the gauge at the top. It works fine, but is hardly a work of art.
    I’d be all for buying a well-made expensive pump, but none seem to have gotten ALL the details right. So, as long as I’m still buying compromises, I prefer to pay as little as possible for them!

  • Moopheus says:

    I’d agree with Phil on the gauge at the top—a very good feature. I think ours is a Blackburn—I can’t remember off the top of my head. Works fine. Gauge at the top makes it much easier to use.

  • Alan says:

    @Phil

    Your’s is the first I’ve heard of a problem with a Silca handle. Did you try returning it for a replacement?

    @Moopheus

    I guess I’m hard on pumps (either that, it’s my rambunctious Australian Shepherds), because I’ve destroyed two pressure gauges on pumps with the gauges mounted at the top when they tipped over.

  • Zyzzyx says:

    I’ve got a Topeak Joe Blow that’s a bit over 10 years old now. Bought it in college and remember cringing when I spent that much on a floor pump ($40 or so?). Prior to that I just used my frame pump all the time. But its been 10 years, and its still doing me just fine. No seals or O-rings replaced, both sides of the the dual-head still work, and the gauge at the top is still dead-on accurate. And its just the right size to give decent volume for the big tires, but it can still do 120psi without too much effort.

    I can see the attraction to the Silca pumps, but I don’t understand it. The ones that I’ve used, even from folks that say they’re working great, just didn’t do so well. Too finicky for my tastes.

    I will admit though, they do look good.

  • Phil says:

    @Alan

    No, I labored with that handle for about four years and finally gave up. I didn’t want another because unless the way the handle is attached had been changed, I feared I’d just be going through all that gain. Add to that the gauge placement and the fact that the Park is a more effortless inflator.

    I’m as big as retrogrouch as anyone. The “newest” bike in the stable is a ’79 Colnago Super. But all that hassle wasn’t worth going through just so I could have a pump that looked like the one I played with in my uncle’s garage in 1953. (I did keep the Schrader-to-Presta adapter, though. You never know.)

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    I had a Pista for years, and it wored…ok. Eventually I replaced it with Park Tools PFP-6, and couldn’t be happier. The Park just works, every time, and the head is far less fussy. The Silcas are a thing of beauty but IMHO the Park is far more pleasurable to deal with on a frequent basis.

  • Chris says:

    I’ve had my Super Pista pump since 1990. Bought it because it was and still is one of the few that will go to very high pressures for track cycling (200psi sometimes), and lasts forever. To date I’ve replaced the rubber seal in the chuck a few times, and that’s it. It has traveled with me all over the country, countless mountain bike camping trips being thrown around, even took it apart one time to fill a teammate’s tires with water for a good happy birthday present :-)
    One of the best investments I’ve made in cycling. Probably the only thing that has lasted 25+ years that I have, that still works.

  • Buck-50 says:

    The chuck is a PITA if you’ve got threaded presta valves and you still end up needing another pump that can handle schraeder valves if you’ve got any kind of burly, bob or chariot trailer… and god help you if you’ve got threaded presta valves on a small wheel.

    I love my super pista, but there are times when it definitely feels like an affectation I could do without.

  • Chris says:

    Yep, agreed the chuck is a PITA sometimes. However it is one of the relative few that work with Zipp valve extenders if you want to go to any reasonable road riding pressure. I have one where the Presta chuck unscrews, and you’re left with a Schraeder chuck but that is a major PITA – you must thread it on. Which means unscrewing it lets out a bunch of air. My solution…Presta valves in my townie bikes!

  • dwainedibbly says:

    @Stephen D: Yes, Columbus tubing. My circa 1984 Silca Pista still has the sticker.

    I really like this pump. I replaced the head with Silca’s updated presta head with lever and I have replaced the leather washer a few times, but no other problems. Mine has the plastic handle, so no issues there.

  • doug in seattle. says:

    I’ve never had a good experience with Silcas. My Topeak Joe Blow has worked flawlessly and easily every time. It feels a lot more solid than other pumps I’ve used as well. I always tell the same lame joke when I have to use a Silca: old and Italian is not the same thing as good!

 
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