five hundred kilometres is a reasonable distance in cycling terms, even when spread over seven days, and when undertaken at this time of year, can be somewhat hard on equipment. on the sunday prior to this monumental undertaking (perhaps a slight exaggeration), when pointing out a few of the notable points of interest on islay's west coast to a visiting german cyclist, two of us were blown off the road. or at least one of us was. my companion, hit sideways by a 50+ atlantic gust, had little option but to ride headlong into the roadside grassy ditch. just prior to joining him, i managed to unclip and get a foot down just as the rear of the bike was blown through ninety degrees.
on the sunday ride prior to that, i had again opted for the ibis 'cross bike because gusting winds were blowing me all over uiskentuie road, and my choice of cycle allowed me to nip onto the grass, where being blown over was likely to be a tad less uncomfortable.
those five hundred kilometres ended somewhat ignominiously when i rode through what i thought was a couple of inches deep floodwater, but turned out to be nearer 16 inches. with both feet soaking wet and freezing cold, i emerged from the other side to discover the rear tyre had suffered a puncture. these things always seem to happen at the furthest geographical point from home, on days when sitting cosily by the central heating would have been a more favourable pastime.
coincidentally, the location of my puncture sufferage was but a few metres from the point when undertaking the same five hundred kilometres a couple of years ago that i noticed an irritating click from the chain. subsequent checking at home revealed a cracked sideplate, requiring a bike change for the remaining hundreds and the ordering of a new chain. ever since then, i have attempted to maintain the chains on my bicycles in the shiny, pristine condition they appear when new or seen on close-up footage during the tour de france. it may well be my one concession to obsessive compulsive disorder.
i would dearly love to give the impression that no matter my physical state at the end of one of those windstrewn, hail-blasted rides, that it's all about the bike. putting off the desperate need for a warm shower, i would administer tender loving care to each moving part on the velocipede before accurately checking tyre pressures and inflating accordingly. but that is very far from the truth. however, on my last day, fresh from a puncture and a coffee, i had the sense to replace the spare inner-tube in my seat pack and inflate the rear tyre a few psi more than i had managed with my frame-fit pump. the track pump that would normally be employed for this purpose is a flipping nuisance; its inflation properties are exemplary, but not only is the hose a tad too short to be used when the bicycle is cossetted by my workstand, but it refuses point blank to clip into the slot considerately attached to the pump barrel.
no doubt this flailing hose contributes in a negative way to this particular pump's propensity to fall over at the least temptation. it would be overly iniquitous, however, to lay the latter foible squarely at the door of this particular example, for the same inability to remain upright seems to have afflicted every track pump i have so far come across. not so this monster from axiom, the likes of which you could probably reverse a volvo into without its stability being called into question and the volvo suffering the greater damage. certainly, a falling over track pump rarely seems to incur any collateral damage, but the annoyance value of being met by at least one on opening the bikeshed door never seems to recede.
in this case, free range was offered at axiom to create the ultimate track pump, in consultation with some of the world's finest professional cycle mechanics. it would appear from the end result that they all probably suffered from the same irritants as do i. for starters, the exceptionally wide base, visually similar to a pair of die cast wings, will not only allow confident free-standing, but features an array of those little pins that you'll find on bmx and mtb platform pedals. put one foot on each 'wing' and nothing moves unless you want it to.
facing the red anodised handle with grips reminiscent of quality flat handlebar grips, the clamp holding it in place bears an uncanny resemblance to a stem faceplate. there is an allen bolt top and bottom should it be necessary to remove the handle for any reason. fitted on both sides of the polished 62cm 6000 series aluminium barrel are clips to hold the impressively long rubber hose, clips that actually do what they were designed to do. along with that, there's also a hook just under the handle to keep the hose out of mischief midway through an inflatable task.
somebody has been paying close attention here.
built in to the die cast baseplate is the all-important pressure gauge, reading all the way to 200psi (13.7 bar), it's remarkably easy to read and is far enough out from the barrel for it to avoid obscuring vision. not all track pumps are created equal; some feature less than accurate gauges while others begin to struggle the higher up the pressure table you go. the axiom, however, seems to contain what can best be described as a pressure gear, by which i mean all the way from zero to 100psi, the effort remains the same and with a consistent increase in pressure. meanwhile the hose is long enough to comfortably reach the valves of a workstand suspended bicycle, offering valuable versatility in placement.
judging by the plethora of allen bolts around the underside of the baseplate, dismantling or replacing any errant parts ought to be a simple procedure.
continuing my observation that not all pumps are created equal, nowhere is this more apparent than in the chuck or valve connector affixed to the hose end. i still own a track pump on which the chuck requires to be threaded onto the valve, unfortunately often unthreading the core when being removed. and though i own no wheels with schrader valves, it would seem a compulsory necessity that both options are offered in one unit. any pump that arrives with a separate attachment to take care of either valve is just asking for trouble; it takes very little time to lose something that small.
the valve connector is almost t-shaped, with the schrader connection on one end, presta on the other, colour-coded to avoid confusion. i confess i've not tried the schrader end, since i have no bicycles using that style, but the presta connector is a tight but comfortable fit on any length of valve stem. once in place, there's a small lever to flick into place, solidly locking the device to prevent blowoff at higher pressures. i found this lever a bit of a struggle, partly due to its positioning and partly because on a brand new pump, it's likely still a bit stiff.
resetting the lever once the tyre is at the desired pressure seems to release the internal pressure in the hose, making it easier to remove the connector from the valve. it's a well-designed system that's highly efficient and easy to get used to. my road bike tyres went easily to 100psi, while the same could be said for the cross tyres inflated to 45psi for road use.
the axiom annihilateair could be accused of being a fine eample of overkill. many of us would be more than satisfied simply to get air into our tyres. however, it takes only a few days of routine use to realise just how excellent this track pump truly is, and how much faff and disappointment comes with a return to the ordinary. i confess to having re-inflated far more tyres recently than was strictly necessary, simply because the axiom makes it such a cool thing to do. it's not even remotely cheap, but in my opinion, worth every one of its ninety-five pounds.
sunday 5 december 2013..........................................................................................................................................................................................................