Silca launches new frame pump, the Impero Ultimate
Handmade builders will offer painted-to-match pumps from the iconic brand
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Silca has been on a tear since the company re-launched the brand and introduced the Super Pista Floor pumps last year. Earlier this year, a handful of frame builders at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show displayed custom-painted Pista Ultimate floor pumps, all looking reminiscent of the frame tubes of the builders’ bikes. Since then, we’ve been quietly wondering how long it would take for Silca’s owner Joshua Poertner to offer a frame pump, as painted-to-match Silca frame pumps were all the rage back in the day.
Sure enough, a press release went out Monday announcing the re-introduction of the Silca Impero frame pump — the Impero Ultimate. The original Impero was THE pump to have on your retro bike, and while many are still in existence, the old ones just don’t cut it with modern bikes.
“All frame pumps were ubiquitous when all frames were built with 1-inch tubing, but we don’t live in that world anymore,” Poertner said. “The arch on the head and bumper is called “FlexWing” and it can fit a 65mm tube, but if you were to push it up against an old school 1” tube, those wings would curve in and cradle the tube.”
The design of the head came after Silca looked at a number of different straps and mounts and decided it wanted to stay away from any kind of required strap. The silicone head is built by a company that does work for the military making silicone pieces that attach to M16s and other firearms, and of course like nearly every other piece of the Impero Ultimate, the silicone heads are made in the USA.
The one outlier of made in the USA componentry on the Impero is the leather piston, which is also used in the Pista Ultimate floor pump, and has been sourced from the same manufacturer in Milan, Italy since 1947.
The head has no lever for sealing to presta valves, and instead uses a cut down version of the chuck on the Pista Ultimate for quality sealing. The entire body of the Impero Ultimate is made of aluminum from the U.S. brand Alco.
For holding the pump securely on a frame, Silca first asks that you carefully measure inside the tubes of your frame and do not just go by the size of your bike. The pump is available in four sizes, from S to XL. There is a silicone bumper that slides up against the handle, and holds the handle firmly in place so it cannot rattle out even when riding over the roughest roads. Still, Silca encourages you to measure twice, and order once to make sure you get the proper fit.
Some aero tube shapes could be problematic, but not incompatible with the Impero Ultimate. Poertner said that on some aero head tube shapes — especially those with taller head tubes — the frame pump will slide down and sit below the top tube a bit. In those cases, Poertner recommends a Two Fish Bikeblock silicone block and strap.
“We’re encouraging our dealers to buy a full size run so people can try them out and know exactly what size they need,” Poertner said. “A Cannondale has a 58mm effective head tube diameter, so on a 56cm Cannondale, probably need a large pump. That identical frame geometry on, say a Vanilla, with the difference in the tube thickness because of the difference in carbon to steel, you may need to size up to an XL.”
On the topic of custom bikes Silca, Poertner told us that “paint ready pumps” will be available to select frame builders in a few weeks. The paint ready pumps will come disassembled and prepped for paint.
Breadwinner’s Ira Ryan said, “We are stoked to see Silca come out with their new frame pump. The fact it’s made in the USA is an added bonus for us too.
“We will be offering the new pump painted to match a customer’s bike for $200. If an existing customer has a bike with a stock color they want a pump painted to match, we will make it available.”
Alchemy, Mosaic, and Vanilla cycles have also said that they are excited to offer custom-painted Impero Ultimate pumps to customers, but they could not give an MSRP at press time.
So who is this $165 frame pump for? The perfectionists. People with custom frames, or even, those with vintage bikes and a desire to ride Silca and anyone who doesn’t want to buy something they would ever have to replace.
Poertner told us, “I think the Silca pumps are the most handed-down thing in cycling. Earlier this year we helped Cadel Evans rebuild an old floor pump that had been the first pump his parents had given him.”