On my rides, I often ponder the value of technology in cycling. Innovation is an oft-used word in marketing copy, but I’ve always believed that innovation is useless if it doesn’t somehow enhance the experience.
Earlier this year, Guitar Ted reviewed the $120 Silca Tattico Bluetooth mini-pump. You can read his review here, so I won’t rehash all the tech details, but in short, Silca integrated a digital pressure sensor into their already impressive (and $65 less expensive) Tattico mini-pump. Once the required iGauge app is downloaded – available for iOS and Android devices – the Tattico Bluetooth can send pressure readings to the app, which displays them in real time.
I have to admit, after reading Guitar Ted’s review, I was a bit skeptical about the need for a Bluetooth-enabled pump for on-the-road inflation. In fact, I’ve always taken a bit of pride in the fine calibration of my hands, which always seemed accurate enough for roadside pressure checks.
Quite frankly, I didn’t think the app-based gauge was needed, but was interested in finding out firsthand. So you can probably imagine my surprise when Guitar Ted asked if I’d be interested in conducting my own review of the Tattico Bluetooth. It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist, and here’s what I learned.
Check 1, 2…
From the moment I removed the Tattico Bluetooth from its packaging, I was impressed. The machined aluminum pump body features a durable anodized finish. It’s clearly not a pump for weight weenies, as it gives up 40-50 grams of weight to other competitors.
On the other hand, from a performance standpoint, few if any of those other mini-pumps have the smooth, consistent performance of the Tattico Bluetooth in-use. It pumps a good quantity of air with each stroke, is easy to pump and doesn’t lose efficiency due to excess heat buildup.
The pull-out hose and locking, reversible head are easy to use and more importantly, don’t leak air while pumping. This is important, as any leaks could affect the accuracy of the iGauge app. The knurled grips provided a secure grip and it’s clear the pump is designed to go the distance.
The app itself worked as advertised, even if it is a little thin on detailed “how to use” instructions. Connecting the pump to my phone via Bluetooth was seamless and relatively quick as well. Typically, I’d open the app and lay the phone on the ground next to the tire, and within 3-4 strokes, the pump was connected to the phone and the app would display the tire pressure. It worked consistently and reliably every time.
From a size standpoint, the Tattico Bluetooth is larger than most folks will want to carry in a jersey pocket. That said, the included frame mount is as good as any I’ve used and the pump also easily fits into any of my frame bags.
Tackling the elephant in the room…
While the performance of Silca’s Tattico Bluetooth mini-pump is fantastic, the question everyone asks first is about the necessity of the app-based gauge and Bluetooth connectivity. I guess the right answer depends on who you are, and what your priorities are.
For me, the value of having an accurate gauge with me whenever I ride is easy to justify. Yes, I could effectively do the same thing with a $55 non-Bluetooth Tattico and a separate gauge, but the Bluetooth solution is much more elegant. And since most folks always carry their phone with them on rides, the gauge is always ready to roll when you need it.
I now look at the “need” for a Bluetooth-enabled pump in much the same way as I view the need for high-end wheels or drivetrain parts. Yes, it’s possible to spend less and basically do the same thing, but if I can afford to do it, I understand the value in going with a better, more integrated overall solution, even if it costs more. So much for my well-calibrated hands!
Your mileage may vary on that, but either way, Silca has you covered. If you’re like me, and want the best overall solution (and price alone isn’t a decision maker), do what I did and go with the $120 Tattico Bluetooth.
If budget is more of a consideration, or you simply don’t want all that tech on your bike, Silca’s $55 non-Bluetooth Tattico mini-pump offers the same exact performance, minus the Bluetooth transmitter. It’s a steal considering the pump’s performance and long-term durability.
About the only area I think Silca could improve on the Tattico Bluetooth is the fit of the cap that covers the hose when not in use. On a couple of occasions, I’d finish a ride and realize the cap had popped open at some point during the ride. Since the cap is tethered, it’s not an issue of potential loss, but when it pops open the hose and locking head are more exposed to the elements. That’s not ideal, but for me it’s not a deal breaker either.
In nearly 30 years riding and racing bicycles, I’ve yet to use a better-performing mini-pump. It’s so good in fact, that I now typically leave my floor pump at home when I go to events. I simply use my Tattico Bluetooth for any pre-race pressure checks and adjustments, and in that role, it works perfectly.
The Tattico Bluetooth works great out on the road too. The app-based gauge works reliably, making it practical to actually know your exact tire pressure when fixing flats. No more pinching the sidewalls and guessing what pressure it is. That’s a definite improvement, if you ask me.
Ultimately, I’m sold on the value of Silca’s Tattico Bluetooth pump. Considering it’ll likely be the last minipump I’ll need to buy, $120 seems like a great deal. Apparently technology is a good thing, at least in this case.
Check the Tattico Bluetooth and all of Silca’s other top-quality products out at Silca.cc.
Note: Silca sent the Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump to RidingGravel.com at no charge. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.