Pista Floor Pump

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - VINTAGE VELO -

With the cur­rent pro­lif­er­a­tion of ul­tra-pre­mium floor pumps, this may be the ideal time to look back at what is ar­guably the most iconic bike pump of all time. Built by Silca, an Ital­ian com­pany formed in 1917 by Felice Sac­chi, the Pista was, for many decades, the floor pump used by al­most ev­ery se­ri­ous bike shop and rider. In fact, there are many cy­clists who are still us­ing decades-old Pista pumps. (I own two 30-year-old Pis­tas that I use daily.) This is a rather amaz­ing fact when you con­sider that the mod­ern cy­cling in­dus­try has a ten­dency to view any prod­uct that’s more than a few years old as ob­so­lete.

So what was it about the Pista that cre­ated such a loyal fol­low­ing from so many rid­ers for so many decades? Af­ter all, com­pared with more mod­ern floor pumps, the Pista had some ob­vi­ous short­com­ings: the base was per­haps too small and un­sta­ble, the han­dle could have been big­ger and the head had the habit of un­ex­pect­edly pop­ping off of tire valves when you were in­flat­ing your tires. It’s a pretty damn­ing list of draw­backs.

What these fail­ings don’t show is that the Silca Pista was the pump you could not kill. Se­ri­ously. Con­structed with Colum­bus steel tub­ing for the main air cham­ber and sporting com­po­nents you could re­build com­pletely, the Pista could in­flate tires to more than 200 p.s.i. (if you ever wanted to do that) day in, day out with­out fail. If any com­po­nents did wear out (maybe the leather plunger or head gas­ket), they could eas­ily be re­placed be­cause Silca sold all the nec­es­sary com­po­nents. Few, if any other pumps at the time, could claim this level of func­tion and dura­bil­ity.

Will the new ul­tra-pre­mium floor pumps sur­pass the Pista in terms of per­for­mance and longevity? Per­haps. But un­til then, the only way I’ll give up my Silca Pista is when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.– Gusalexan­dropou­los

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