One of the defining characteristics of SILCA throughout our 100-year history has been the continuous search for innovations and improvements to our products, down to the smallest of details that go into them. Our modern line-up of pumps for example pay homage to their original designs (some of them dating back more than 75 years) yet are built using modern engineering practices, materials and standards. Yet through all of the innovations and changes we’ve gone through as a brand, there are some things that will never change. A great example of this is our use of the leather washer inside of all of our pumps since 1917.
General Thought As something that is typically used before every ride; durability, efficiency and overall experience are key design goals of all of our pumps. An accurate gauge, quality chuck and stable base go a long way towards achieving these goals yet the internal components of the pump are by far the biggest determining factor in regards to overall performance. It is the internal components after all, that work together to create the seal, which then builds pressure inside the barrel that ultimately ends up inside your tires. Overall performance then depends heavily on this internal system and we’ve yet to find anything more durable, consistent, efficient or pleasurable to use than full grain leather.
Durability The biggest issue with most pumps is that they just don’t last long before they begin to not perform as well as they did when they were new or they break completely. In most cases, the issue is that there’s no longer a proper seal within the barrel to push the air through the system and into the tire. The most common system used to create the seal is a rubber O-ring on the end of the piston. Pressure is created by the O-ring making contact with the inner walls of barrel, which then pushes air through the system as the rider moves the handle up and down. The issue with O-rings is that most aren’t designed to deal with the friction, heat and airborne contamination experienced within a bike pump. Unlike a suspension fork or shock which uses o-rings completely sealed and bathed in oil, the pump inhales air and all of its contaminates with each stroke. It only takes a single particle of grit or sand to enter the pump to begin damaging the O-ring. Once the O-ring develops a nick or tear, then the seal becomes less effective and therefore is no longer able to push the same amount of air. Over time, the exposure to heat and pressure will cause nicks and tears in the O-ring to grow and ultimately fail the ring.