Silca Super Pista floor pump

silca super pista.jpg

I’ve lost count of the number of bikes I’ve owned over the years, but I’ve only owned one floor pump ever: the Silca Super Pista. This is not say that I’ve never used anything else, but that Silca has never needed replacement at home. I know that there are plenty of other pumps that can achieve 100psi in fewer strokes or that have heads that effortlessly switch from Presta to Schrader valves, but they all seem to crap out after a few years and then you can’t get replacement parts. By then, there will be an entirely new model promising to be better in every way to the former. Then you’ll be forced to chuck your old pump unceremoniously into the landfill.

In contrast, the basic design of Silcas hasn’t changed in decades, and the replacement parts are widely available. I’ve replaced the rubber washer in the head about 5 times and I just recently replaced the leather gasket in the cylinder for the first time. That’s about 10 bucks total. Pumps from 30 years ago use the same pieces as new Silcas; I can’t think of another cycling accessory that does that.

On the other hand, Silca pumps today are overpriced compared to the shiny legions of pumps coming out of Asia. The finish and craftsmanship have taken a hit too. Where there used to be cast metal pieces there is frequently plastic. And if you ask about ergonomics…well, let me direct you to the pump’s classic lines.

One thing I learned about tuning up my Silca is that when the pump gradually loses efficiency, either the leather gasket might have worn out or the cylinder might need to be regreased to aid in sealing. If the gasket is worn out, you’ll need to grease the new one well before you reassemble, and it’ll take a few days for the grease to soften the gasket well enough so it seals properly. Until then the efficiency will be poor but will eventually return to normal.

Silca pumps are kinda like a old VW: not the most modern or easy to use, but simple and easily repairable. I got my pump in 1994, and I expect to have it for another 15 years as my only floor pump. Hell, I might get it repainted this year. Do you think you could say the same thing about your Blackburn, Topeak, or Zefal?



6 Comments

I have an old Silca from the late 80’s that for some reason needs to be rebuilt yearly when I use it regurlay. It gets old rebuilding it and I gave up on it in 1993. I also have an old Zefal Husky that looks like a Silca rip off, that has worked flawlessly since I bought it new in 1993 and has never been rebuilt. I don’t know that I could rebuild it if I wanted to. It’s my go to pump. So yes, I can say the same thing about my Zefal and add that I prefer it over the Silca. It even has a wooden handle like the Silca.

I love silca pumps and recommend them whenever someone asks what pump to get. However I was recently without my pump when the new style threaded wood handle stripped and I was unable to find a replacement. It would seem there is a bit of a gap between parts suppliers and silca if its a non standard replacement part. Since the shaft is some bizarre threading I considered having a new shaft in a standard metric pitch made by a machine shop so I could continue using the pump.  I love it that much.

i’ve used these several times at various bike shops around town (and the flat fix kit at my work has one) but I’m not terribly fond of them.  My Topeak has worked A-OK for three years now, though I did have to replace the linkage once (topeak sent the new one FOC).  I always assume that people like them because they’re old and Italian, which always trumps function.  Funny coming from a guy who still uses Cyclone MK II on friction bar ends.

I’ve never been in a shop that didn’t have a well-worn Silca stuff in a corner. My first racing bike was a Colango and I got a chromed Silca for it with the head. The pump was actually plastic except for the head. Don’t use it anymore, but kept it as a heirloom.

Our local shop carries the heads… which is the most important piece of a Silca pump.  Simply cut the end of another pump and replace the head for $15.

Any tips on purchasing a Silca Super Pista pump? I am not sure if they are still being made or I have to turn to the used market. If new is available, are they still as good as the vintage ones you seem to all be using? Any other caveats? Fakes?

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