Pista Floor Pump
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