Silca Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump: Quick Review- by Guitar Ted
When one rides in rural areas, it is wise to have the tools and accessories at hand to bail yourself out of a potential jam. This is important not only for the continuance of a ride, but just having the right tools can bring a rider valuable peace of mind. While tool kits vary from rider to rider, one commonly carried item is an air source to inflate tires and tubes with. Probably the most common of these sources is the ubiquitous air pump.
The various shapes and sizes of mini-pumps available is enough to send one’s mind into overload. Many are variations on a theme and really don’t have any significant differences. One could be forgiven for thinking this when viewing the Silca Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump Riding Gravel received for review, but they would be mistaken. This pump has a hidden feature which is either over the top or ground breaking, depending upon your viewpoint. That would be its Bluetooth signal which can be used to drive an app for your smart phone to tell you what air pressure you have achieved when using the pump on your tire or tube.
Before we get too far though, here are the salient features that Silca lists on their site concerning this high-tech pump:
- Inverted Design: Tattico is designed backwards from most pumps. The hose and valving is hidden inside the Inner tube rather than the outer cylinder as in other designs. The Result: Up to 10% more air per stroke compared to pumps of similar length!
- Adaptable Cup Seal: Other pumps seal with o-rings, which are great when the pump is cold, but as heat builds and the cylinder grows, o-ring seals lose effectiveness. The Tattico Adaptable Cup Seal grows with the tube resulting in ultimate efficiency at all temperatures.
- Hidden Heat Sink Controls Temperatures: There is a heat sink hidden at the end of the barrel which absorbs a high percentage of heat generated when pumping. This keeps the rest of the pump cool, even at high pressures.
- Twin Tube Insulated Handle Design Keeps Hands Cool: Tattico Handle uses 2 thin tubes separated by an insulating air gap to keep hands cool. This results in better grip and control without risk to hands even when inflating multiple tires to high pressures.
These are the same features found in the non-Bluetooth Tattico pump, but of course, this pump has Bluetooth! So, what does that mean? It means that in addition to the unique construction and features of the Tattico, this pump also sends a signal via the app to a smartphone which can display a highly accurate reading of your air pressure. This works regardless of cell coverage as Bluetooth “talks” directly to your phone.
Now, if you are like me, you might be thinking, “What in the world would I need a pump with this feature for?” That’s a fair question. However; when you consider a few things about gravel riding and racing, it may make more sense. Here’s how I came to grips with this pump’s reason for being: Let’s say that you are setting your bike up for a ride. You probably carefully select an air pressure and you might use a floor pump to get your pressure right just before you set out to ride. Now let’s say that you have an issue- a punctured tube, or your tire blows a bit of sealant and air before sealing up. You have several miles to go. Wouldn’t it be nice to get right back to that initial air pressure setting you chose right before your ride, or would you be okay with just guessing? Perhaps you decide that letting a bit of air out is a better way to go due to riding conditions, but how much? With the Tattico Bluetooth you don’t have to guess. You can get a reading that is accurate to .5 psi or better of actual pressure, which beats most floor pumps for accuracy.
If you are shrugging your shoulders and thinking just a quick squeeze of the tire is good enough for you, then you probably are not who Silca is targeting as a customer. For those who would like an accurate, easy to use tool to reach and ascertain accurate air pressure in the field, this might be for you.
First Impressions: Upon receiving the Tattico Bluetooth mini-pump, I was struck by its solid, weighty feel in the hand. Not to wonder since the bulk of this pump is made of aluminum, and it is machined stock, not just an aluminum extracted tube here. There are a few rubber bits, but otherwise this pump seems to eschew plastic parts, unlike many mini-pumps. This pump seems very well made, the tolerances are obviously tighter, and I suspect the “inverted” mode of construction Silca uses is part of the reason why that is. This pump exudes quality and I expect that it would last for many years based upon a visual inspection alone. That solid feel in the hand comes with a weight penalty of around 50-60 grams compared to other mini-pumps I have of similar size and construction.
This pump’s technological feature requires the use of a smart phone. Most folks have one these days, and the app for the pump can be downloaded for free to your device. All you have to do once you have this app is to make sure you have your smart phone with you when you want to use the air gauge feature.
The pump uses the now common extendable hose feature which has a reversible chuck for use with Schrader or Presta/Dunlop valves. This chuck unscrews and is made of metal. The hose also features a metal thumb-lock to secure the chuck on the valve before pumping. Again, the level of detail and quality runs throughout almost every part of this mini-pump. (More on that in a bit.)
The pump is impressive, seems to have very close tolerances in terms of its construction, and it feels solidly made. That’s before you consider the Bluetooth pressure gauge feature. The app itself is simple to download. I had it installed on my iPhone 7 with ease. A quick run through while at home showed that everything was in order, but how does it actually work in the field? I went for a ride to find out.
Performance: The Tattico Bluetooth mini-pump is meant to be mounted on a frame’s bottle bosses with the included mount which fits the Tattico very securely. I chose not to use the mount as I often move my pump from bike to bike here at Riding Gravel. If you decide to stow it in a bag or jersey pocket you will find that this pump is a bit longer than many others. At a full 9.5 inches in length, your jersey pocket may not be a good place to stow this pump in. I had a tight fit to slip it into my front rack bag, but I managed to get the bag zipped up.
Once removed from the clutches of the city, I found a good spot out in the country to stop for a mock trial of the app and pressure gauge. I got the pump readied and set up on my wheel’s tubeless valve stem. Then I got my phone out, hit the app button on the screen, and it booted right up. The screen on the phone shows a text box with “searching” showing in the box. This means the app is waiting for a signal from the Tattico mini-pump. All you have to do is start pumping, and within about two to three strokes the pump will show a reading in very large, easy to read numerals on your smart phone screen. The app is configurable to psi, bar, or metric pressure readings simply by choosing one of these three options on the screen. There also is an option to pre-set a desired pressure to reach and the app will beep at you when you reach it. Pressure data is also said to be storable within the app. Once you are done using the pump, closing the app and stowing the pump puts the Bluetooth sender in “sleep mode”, so battery life is extended.
The read out was easy to read even in bright sunshine, mostly due to the numerals large size. With an accuracy claimed to be within .5psi of actual pressure, I could be assured that my readout was correct. In fact, Silca claims the Tattico is more accurate than many floor pump gauges. Silca did seek to try to incorporate an analog or digital gauge into a mini-pump format, but claimed that the miniaturized mechanisms required to fit a mini-pump format rendered the accuracy of the gauges they tried to be not much better than squeezing the tire with your fingers and guessing. So they opted for this Bluetooth solution, and it works really well.
The action of this pump is super-smooth, as I expected it would be by its build quality. That said, Silca claims that this design, which does not use “O” rings for sealing, will work efficiently even when it builds up heat from the friction of pumping. I have noticed that my other pumps suffer from this when they heat up.
The Tattico does pretty well in terms of performance. The Tattico took 213 strokes to fill a 26″ X 2.5 Surly Extraterrestrial tire to 20psi and 246 strokes to fill a 700c X 40mm Vittoria Terreno Dry tire to 40psi. Both tires were drained of air before inflating and both were set up tubeless. I did both tires in succession so the heat build up claims could be tested and the pump seemed as efficient at the end as it was to begin with.
Concerns: I found that your phone works best with the app if it is within about a foot of the pump and if your hand isn’t cupped around the end of the pump. That’s a minor issue, as you probably would want the phone as close as you can get it so you can monitor the pressure. As far as how the pump works, it does well. Reading the phone as I pumped I could see that upon pushing the pump on the down stroke caused a similar fluctuation upward of pressure, just like an analog gauge would flutter while pumping, so the readout would seem to be responsive.
Otherwise I had no other performance concerns. There was a minor concern which involved a rubber seal which the outer part of the barrel/handle locks into. The action of pumping would displace this rubber seal backward down the inner shaft and it would not lock into the outer portion of the barrel/handle unless manually made to do so. I reached out to my contact at Silca and asked about this. The response I got was that this rubber bit locks out dirt and grit and serves as a kind of anti-rattling feature when it is locked into the outer part of the pump handle. The Silca rep agreed that manually locking the bit to the handle part “might take some getting used to“.
While this is a minor issue, and it doesn’t affect performance, the asking price for this pump at $120.00 makes this a premium product in its category. This admittedly minor nit seems to be an incongruity with the otherwise high build quality of this pump. My suggestion is that Silca might conceive of a way to make that seal stay put so you don’t have to fuss with it.
I also had one concern involving the app. There isn’t any obvious way to understand what the app can do beyond reading pressure. This seems odd and perhaps Silca could find a better way to communicate the app’s feature set to purchasers of this pump.
At The Finish: The Silca Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump is a high quality mini-pump with a technological feature that is ground breaking in the realm of portable pumps for bicycles. While the Bluetooth feature does require that the user have a smart phone and that they have downloaded the free “i Guage” app, I found that this all works very nicely. The pump is very well built and it performs admirably, taking an acceptable amount of strokes to fill tires. The pump has smooth action and the “i Gauge” app gives you an easy to read, accurate pressure reading. The construction features no “O” rings which can lose their effectiveness when heated up by pumping action. The Tattico pump does not suffer from lack of efficiency in this way. The Bluetooth gauge feature and how this pump performs is all top notch. The best mini-pump one can buy? Silca makes a strong case for this title with the Tattico Bluetooth Mimi-pump.
There is no getting around that the asking price is pretty steep for this pump though. If you can live without the Bluetooth feature, Silca does make a Tattico without the Bluetooth capabilities for about half the $120.00 asking price of this model. However; the ability to have the capability to set your air pressure at an accurate level in the field is an attractive feature. I can totally see why this would appeal to riders in long events which are a 100 miles or longer. Especially since most of us ride with smart phones anyway. Bike packers would also be another group that might benefit from such technology. Not having to guess at your air pressure can bring peace of mind, and really, that is worth a lot more than the price of this pump when you are in the middle of nowhere.
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.