Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Silca Impero Frame Pump

Last year, the newly revived Silca company, now based in the U.S., brought out the Super Pista Ultimate, which could well be the most amazing inflation tool a person could buy. Why not call it a pump? At $450, it is perhaps just a bit too deluxe to be labeled with such a pedestrian term. I'm not knocking it -- from all accounts, the thing is fantastic and perhaps the last pump (sorry, inflation tool) a person would ever need to buy. And from what I've heard, they aren't having trouble selling them. In fact, a limited run of special "artist edition" pumps painted by Dario Pegoretti was offered at $900 each, and the entire run sold out in no time at all. Not too many of us on teachers' salaries will be buying them, but that's hardly a yardstick for measuring economic success.

With the newest release from the revived Silca, the company does for frame pumps what it did for floor pumps with the new Impero Ultimate Frame Pump: the updated and improved version of the old classic. The original Impero, introduced in the 1920s used, used "Duraluminum" in its construction, but the model most people are probably familiar with was the plastic Impero from the 60s -- especially with the chromed steel Campagnolo head, which was a nice upgrade from the stock plastic chuck.

The new Impero Ultimate uses full aluminum construction, and a new 2-stage seal head gasket that is supposed to provide a good seal on the valve while still using the familiar press-on chuck function without a lever lock, just like the original.

Can you still install a
Campy head on it?
Silicone bumpers on the head and the handle, which the company calls FlexWing technology, are supposed to hold the pump securely in the frame and are designed to accommodate tubing diameters from 1-in. (for us vintage enthusiasts) to 2.5-in. for the popped-out-of-a-mold carbon fans.

The new pump is made in the USA with Alcoa Aluminum extrusions and bar stock. Even the head is solid aluminum. Might not need that chromed Campy head anymore. Like the new floor model, it promises to be incredibly smooth as well as efficient. The company claims it takes fewer strokes to 100 psi than any other portable pump. It comes in 4 lengths to fit a range of frame sizes.

It appears in photos to be black-anodized, with some red-anodized accent pieces. Something tells me that it would look more at home on some of today's carbon fiber w√ľnderbikes than a classic styled lugged steel frame. Any chance they'll offer a version in a silver-anodized finish? That might be more my style. Think about it, Joshua Poertner!

Okay -- it sounds fantastic. Rebuildable. Durable. Efficient. What's it cost? Currently listed on the Silca website for $165.

. . . Gulp. . .

At least I still have my plastic classic.


  1. I looked at a prototype at the NAHBS, and it is a nice pump. It sounded as though they were going to offer a paintable model for those who wish to match (or accent) their bike’s paint. At least it costs less than their floor pump!

    1. I suppose just about anything is paintable. If it is indeed anodized (as it appears to be), it also seems to me that it could be anodized in any number of colors. But I'd still be leaning towards silver.

  2. To me, one of the reasons to buy a frame-fit pump--apart from its functionality--is its classic aesthetic. I agree that the pump should be offered in silver.

    I remember seeing a silver Cinelli, back in the day, with a matching Silca pump. One could hardly tell that the latter was made of plastic--or, at least, one never would have expected plastic to look so elegant.