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Mountain biking is an exciting sport that enables you to explore the great outdoors. However, if you’re trying to get the best experience on your mountain bike, you’ll likely be hitting rough trails and terrain, putting a lot of stress on your bike’s shocks. Over time, you’ll lose air pressure, making your shocks work less efficiently and adding to the wear and tear of your ride.
One of the best ways to mitigate this problem is to use an essential tool called a shock pump. As a precision device, you need to know how to buy the best shock pump for your bicycle. We’ve collected the top models for this list, and we’ll break down the features and elements you must pay attention to when making your final decision.
Our Top Pick for the Best Shock Pump
We firmly believe that the RockShox Digital High-Pressure Shock Pump is the best shock pump out there right now, thanks to its ease of use, durable construction and large digital readout screen:
What Is a Shock Pump?
A bicycle air pump is designed to inflate the bike tires so they’re at the correct pressure. A shock pump is a similar device, but it’s built to inject small amounts of air into your bike’s shocks. Since these pieces require high air pressure, you need a pump that can reach those levels without a ton of effort. Otherwise, you’ll tire yourself out. Also, you should look for a mountain bike shock pump that’s light in weight and durable if you want to bring it with you on your next adventure.
The Best Shock Pump Models for Mountain Bikes
RockShox Digital High-Pressure Shock Pump – Best Overall
Although the majority of shock pumps are very similar to each other, some models come with unique features that make them better than the competition. We chose the RockShox High-Pressure Bicycle Shock Pump as the best overall model because it works well for virtually every situation. So if you’re not sure what kind of shock pump you need, this is a great place to start.
One essential component you have to look at when comparing shock pumps is the type of readout it has. Usually, a digital display will be more accurate and easier to read than an analog gauge. Not only are the numbers more prominent, but they also can include decimal points, giving you greater precision. This display is easy to use and offers an excellent window into your shock’s pressure level.
Built-In Bleeder Valve
Many mountain bikers face one challenge when refiling their rear shocks: the pump can leak air when disconnecting. This issue can be pretty annoying, especially if you have to keep refilling the shock to get it right.
Fortunately, this pump comes with a pressure release valve so you can adjust the setting as you go. Also, the hose threading is designed to minimize leaks, so you should be able to get the job done faster.
- Durable construction
- Easy to use
- Large digital readout screen
- Bleeder valve for precise injections
- Reaches max 300 psi
- Accurate results
- You must recalibrate the pump regularly
- More expensive than other models
Lezyne Digital Shock Drive Pump – Best Compact Model
As we’ll discuss, a shock pump’s portability is a central selling point since you don’t want to leave home without this essential piece. Realistically, you won’t have to top off your shocks after each ride, but you never know what can happen while you’re on the trail. Having something compact and high-tech like the Lezyne Digital Shock Drive Pump is invaluable.
Reaches 350 PSI
Typically, your mountain bike should have a sag level of 25 to 35 percent. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, sagging refers to how much the seat compresses when you’re sitting on it. The best way to measure your bike’s sag is with a tape measure. The heavier you are, the more sag you’ll experience, and the higher you’ll need to set your shock pressure.
Having extra pressure in the Lezyne makes it ideal for more riders and offers an extra buffer when filling the shock. This way, even if some air leaks out, you won’t damage your suspension.
Built-In Battery Level Indicator
The main problem with digital shock pumps is that they rely on batteries, which can run out quickly. Lezyne helps you avoid a dead battery on the trail with a built-in indicator. So you’ll know when to replace your pump’s batteries instead of playing the guessing game.
- Compact size and attractive design to fit in your bag easily
- Rugged materials can take abuse
- Reaches maximum pressure of up to 350 psi
- Battery life level indicator for added convenience
- Pressure relief valve for better accuracy
- Digital readout for faster results
- Bleed valve is tricky to use
- Must calibrate every time
Pro Bike Tool Shock Pump – Best Analog Model
Although we like digital pumps, analog versions are often more reliable and last longer. The Pro Bike Tool Shock Pump is one of the most well-reviewed and popular pumps out there, making it a top choice for mountain bikers everywhere.
Large 1.5-inch Industrial Gauge
The primary issue with using an analog shock pump is that it’s hard to read the numbers. Also, the needle can bounce and shift as you go, so these models are not as accurate. However, this pump comes with a larger pressure gauge, so you don’t have to squint as much. And since it’s an industrial piece, it will last longer overall.
Pull Out T-Handle
Although shock pumps don’t require as much effort as a tire pump, they can still take quite a bit of energy. This model helps alleviate this problem by including a T-handle with an ergonomic design. With this comfortable handle, you can pump faster and more efficiently so you can save more power for the road.
- Very affordable shock pump
- Reaches 300 psi
- Large and easy-to-read accurate gauge
- Built-in T-handle for easier pumping
- Durable metal finish and threaded pump hose
- Dual-stage anti-leak valve
- In rare cases, the pump can lose air while pumping
- Bit of a learning curve to use properly
Overall, analog shock pumps are the norm, and they’re much more affordable than digital versions. If you’re looking for something durable and easy to use, the Fox High-Pressure Shock Pump is an excellent and popular choice. While it’s not as accurate as the Pro Bike Tool version, it works well for most mountain biking situations.
A swivel gauge is necessary to ensure that you don’t have to tilt your head to see the reading. This way, you can fill your shocks quickly and use less effort than you would with a fixed gauge. That said, the swivel head can wear down over time, meaning it won’t necessarily stay in place. When that happens, you may have to replace the entire pump.
As with the Lezyne Shock Pump, this model is lightweight and compact, making it an ideal companion for the trail. Since it’s made from aluminum, you don’t have to worry about rusting or corrosion, which is helpful if you like to ride in wet and wild conditions. As long as you take care of it, this pump should last for quite a while.
- Durable material construction
- Reaches 350 psi
- Easy to use and calibrate
- Swivel head for added convenience
- Not as accurate as other models
- Must overfill to accommodate bleeding when disconnecting
Our final shock pump model is another aluminum analog version. Birzman is a reliable company, and the Macht Shock Pump is a pretty accurate pump overall. It also comes with a few unique features that you might not find on other pumps.
Built-In Airlock Valve
As we’ve mentioned, leaks can be a considerable problem when filling your rear suspension forks. Fortunately, this pump alleviates the issue by having an airlock valve. This way, you can detach the hose without losing too much air, making it faster and more efficient. The only reason we didn’t rank this pump higher is because it’s a bit tricky to calibrate.
The hose you use to connect your pump is crucial, as you need it to be flexible and durable. This feature is not exclusive to Birzman, but they do an excellent job of delivering a convenient and compact pump.
- Durable and lightweight aluminum
- Reaches 300 psi
- Airlock valve prevents air loss
- Flexible hose
- Longer than most other shock pumps
- In rare cases, the airlock valve may break suddenly
Do You Need a Shock Pump?
If you’re riding a mountain bike with an air fork or rear suspension, you need a shock pump. Without this device, the suspension will wear down over time, leading to excessive damage and wear on your bike. The harder you ride, the more you need one of these pumps. Even if you’re taking your mountain bike on flat terrain, a pump can help make your ride as smooth as possible. Fortunately, these pumps are usually affordable and easy to use, so there’s no excuse not to have one for your bicycle.
How To Choose a Shock Pump for Mountain Bikes
Although these devices are relatively simple, they come with various features that you have to compare when making a final decision. So here’s a breakdown of each component to pay attention to and why it matters to your selection:
Digital Gauge vs. Analog
As a rule, digital shock pumps are more accurate than analog versions. Since the readout comes with decimal points, you can be far more precise.
The RockShox Pump gives highly accurate readouts on a large display:
That said, digital pumps require batteries, which can run out relatively fast. If you need to pump on the road, you don’t want to wind up with a dead battery and no way of reading your shock pressure. Overfilling your shocks can lead to damage or bursting, which is worse than the normal wear and tear.
Although shock pumps are not super-expensive, they can be a little pricey for what they do. If you’re an avid mountain biker, investing in a higher quality pump is often better. However, if you don’t ride too hard, you might be able to get away with a budget shock pump that works in a pinch.
Like we said, a digital pump gauge is often more accurate than an analog pump. But you need to pay attention to whether you can adjust your pressure as needed with a bleeder valve. Without this valve, you have to release more air than necessary and then refill it to the correct pressure level, which means you could spend tons of time refilling your rear shocks when you could be riding.
If you’re serious about mountain biking, you should carry your shock pump with you every time you ride. Since you never know what the trail may bring, having this piece of equipment can come in handy pretty often. You want a portable shock pump that’s lightweight so that it won’t be too cumbersome or difficult to use. We like aluminum pumps for this reason, but what matters most is the shape and design: you want something that can fit in your pocket if necessary.
If portability is important to you, the Lezyne Shock Pump is a great pick:
As a rule, you should get a pump with a higher pressure level than what your bike requires. This is because you’ll have to overfill the shock a little bit to account for bleeding. What happens is that as you release the connector valve, some air escapes. High-end pumps don’t lose much air, but low-quality models can leak a lot. Having that buffer zone can help you avoid issues on the trail.
Overall, the RockShox Pump is an excellent digital version that works for both casual and hardcore riders. We like the built-in bleeder valve and the accuracy of the gauge.
However, if you prefer something analog, the Pro Bike Tool Pump is probably your best bet.
Both of these models are well built and deliver exceptional results.