Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (2)

Earlier this year we started hearing about fat bike specific pumps. On the surface that sounds ridiculous, until you consider the mechanics. Bicycle tires offer a crazy range of volumes and pressures from 200 psi track tires to 5 psi fat bike tires. Yes, there are pumps that will do both, but if you’re the kind of person who wants the right tool for the job there are better options.

The Birzman Maha Apogee MTB is a mountain bike specific pump. What does that mean? It means the pump is purposely designed to push a lot of air as quickly as possible. Placing the focus on high volume instead of high pressure, the Maha Apogee MTB and pumps like it becoming more and more useful as tires continue to trend larger.

After getting our hands on the Maha at Eurobike and proceeding to inflate fat bike tires on the show floor, and even a flat tire on Cory’s car, we’ve had the pump long enough to give it a thorough review….

Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (5)

At the heart of the pump is the new Birzman Snap-It Apogee head. The original Snap-It was good, but it struggled with some valves. The new Apogee head reverses the location of the o-ring and clamping jaws resulting in a much better hold on the valve. The tubeless valve on our NOX composites review wheelset was one of the problem valves we came across and the Apogee handled it like a champ. Advantage Apogee.

Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (6) Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (7)

Apogee heads are available in both straight and the 90 degree version seen here and are retrofittable to older pumps. In addition to a more secure connection to presta valves, the Apogee also is schrader compatible by simply twisting the head onto the valve. Previously you had to first remove the gold barrel, then thread it onto the schrader valve. Of course the Apogee head still connects to presta valves with a simple push and a twist. Combined with a built in pressure release button (CAD, Controlled Air Discharge), the Apogee pump head is one of the best we’ve used.

Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (8)

If you want to push a lot of air, you need a big piston. The Maha MTB’s 39mm barrel hides a massive internal piston purpose built for high volume. Testing the pump out on a Vee Tire Co. Snowshoe XL 4.7″ tire set up tubeless on an 80mm rim, the Maha took exactly 20 strokes to reach 10 psi. That might sound like a lot, but for a huge tire that’s really good. A quick comparison between the Birzman pump and the new Topeak Joe Blow Fat at Eurobike proved the Maha to be more efficient pointing to the fact that there is more to the efficiency story than just barrel size. Birzman has always touted the precision in their pump manufacturing and their Evolved Barrel Structure.

If the bigger barrels pushes more air with fewer strokes why don’t all pumps use them? While the larger size makes it easier to fill up high volume tires it also makes it harder to reach higher pressures at the same time. Get past 40 psi on the Maha MTB and it starts getting noticeably harder to pump. The pump is still capable of reaching the higher pressures it just takes a lot more effort. The MTB moniker should be enough indication that this pump is not a good choice for roadies.

Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (1) Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (4)

No, the picture above isn’t taken at an angle. The Maha MTB barrel is tilted towards the user by 5 degrees to make pumping a more ergonomic affair. Equipped with a varnished wooden pump handle, the sides are tapered to fit well in your hands.

Birzman maha apogee MTB pump review fat bike high volume (3)

Shock pump attachement

Really, my only gripe with the pump comes down to the gauge. This pump is specifically designed for mountain bikes – it’s even in the name. So why would you need a gauge that goes up to 120? As it turns out the pump includes an Air Lock feature that allows it to be used as a pump for your suspension fork which actually works pretty well. To get a completely empty Bluto air cartridge up to 100 psi, the Maha MTB took just two strokes – using a shock pump it took over 90. Still, this pump would be much better served with a gauge that topped out at 60 psi to provide better resolution at lower pressures which would be perfect for fat bikes and mountain bikes running lower pressures. The suspension fork feature is nice, but given that the pump tops out at 120 psi, heavier riders will still need to use a shock pump to get to the proper pressures – and realistically, how often are you inflating your fork from zero?

In testing with two separate digital pressure gauges (SKS and Michelin), the pump’s pressure gauge consistently measures about 4 psi higher than the actual tire pressure which is actually pretty common with a lot of pumps.

With that said, the pump functions extremely well, is easy to use, and looks great. In the end the Birzman Maha Apogee MTB is a great design that is held back only by the choice of pressure gauge. That isn’t to say it’s a bad pump – just that there is room for improvement in the gauge department. As we already found out, the Maha MTB is a high volume monster that is perfect for fat bikes (or even car tires in a pinch!). If you’re looking for a seriously high volume pump, check out the $100 Maha Apogee MTB. Just don’t forget your digital pressure gauge.

 

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Roy
Roy
7 years ago

4 psi off on a pump aimed at fat bikes is STUPID, as anyone that rides a fat bike knows that is a massive amount of pressure when you are dealing with less than 10psi most of the time! and totally agree with the stupidity of the gauge reading like a road bike pump. Lets see some lower psi gauges that we can READ from a standing position, it would be nice if they were accurate as well. 60 is awefully generous, but if one uses same pump for gravel racers well then OK, but this is a FAT tire specific pump so they should make it such

Tyler
Tyler
7 years ago

Uh, this isn’t a fat bike specific pump. It’s called a “MTB” Pump. These are for new, skinnier-tired Fat Bikes with tires between 2.0 and 2.5″. A shorter range of psi would be nice for this, but this is shorter than standard road pumps that go up to 220 psi for Track use.

SmooveP
SmooveP
7 years ago

The first sentence of the article gives the impression that this is a pump intended for fat bikes. Your test examples (Snowshoe and Bluto) are both fat-specific. The gauge makes this pump only marginally better for fat bikes than any other pump.

gino
gino
7 years ago

I have the original non apogee version. The review pretty much matches my experience. I’ll have to look into the apogee head. The original one can be finicky.

The gauge though is definitely annoying. 120 psi!? I bought it for my mountain bikes and cross/gravel bikes. It’s even less about the range though and more about the gradations. If you use bar and can see the small marks you’re ok as it gives every .1 increments. On the main psi part though it only has increments at every 10 psi.

ed
ed
7 years ago

No mention of how useful it is for seating tubeless tires, this information world be handy.

groghunter
groghunter
7 years ago

For a while now, I’ve wondered if there’s a market for replacement gauges with better accuracy & finer gradation for bike pumps. Of course you’re not really talking about a market you can really get into from a manufacturing standpoint, gauge manufacture is extremely hard. I’ve also heard there’s inherent difficulties with pressure spikes causing gauges to fall out of accuracy with bike pumps, which may be the real problem.

greg
greg
7 years ago

@grog,
oil filled gauges should be able to take the pressure spikes. you can get them for about $25 on up. the sky is the limit with this, just like anything else.
it would be nice if the gauge attachment was accessible and maybe even quick-disconnect. i think Trek had a shock pump with a feature like that. then you could attach the gauge with the most appropriate resolution for the task. i cant be the only one annoyed at pumping a low pressure shock up with a 400psi shock pump.

Gixxer
Gixxer
7 years ago

anyone know of a pump with a gauge that goes like only up to 40 psi?

huu
huu
7 years ago

I wish you would have compared it to Lezyne’s high volume pumps. These are also MTB specific and the gauge on those goes up to around 60 psi. Great pump for MTBs, MX bikes and wheelbarrows etc.

Total volume of the pump cylinder would be nice to know also.

Trog
Trog
7 years ago

I’ve been using the Lezyne mtb high volume pump for my 2.5 tires for a couple years. It costs less and I just got a new gauge for it that goes to 60psi. Works well for the hybrid tyres too.

Fraser Cunningham
Fraser Cunningham
7 years ago

On the subject of the onboard pressure gauge, not sure what you guys have found, but a couple of my floor pumps that have seen a lot of service with tubeless now have completely useless gauges anyway since they’ve ingested Stans.. It’s nice to have an onboard pressure gauge but when you really think about the range it needs to accomodate, it’s a bit unrealistic to be able to cover everything the pump can handle with good enough resolution in all cases. Bottom line, for a fatbike you really need a 0 – 15psi gauge, and you can get a really good one for $10 on Amazon. This pumps forté is high volume, and it does that very well.
Bourdon tube pressure gauges are inherently fragile, and are typically less accurate at the bottom end of the scale too..