The 10 Best CO2 Tire Inflators
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in March of 2016. You’re hot, muddy, exhausted, and — oh, joy — now you’ve got a puncture. Save the pumping for the gym and make sure you’ve got a CO2 tire inflator in your bag or flat kit. These handy little gadgets use pressurized carbon dioxide gas to rapidly air up your tire, so you’ll be back on the road in no time. Most aren't too pricey, either. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
July 30, 2019:
After some deliberation, we have decided to remove the somewhat popular Genuine Innovations Air Chuck due to ongoing issues with its durability. In fact, many users have experienced the unit blowing apart; whether this is down to user error or poor construction, we don’t think it’s worth the risk at this time. We've also removed the Bicykit CO2 Inflator Kit over similar durability concerns.
When it comes to sturdy top options, we still like the Portland Design Works Shiny Object and the Planet Bike Red Zeppelin for most users. Both are simple enough to operate and entirely portable, so there's no reason to be caught off-guard by a puncture. We’ve also kept the CO2 Inflator by Pro Bike Tool as a top choice, with one caveat. If you have a Presta valve with a removable core, you’ll need to be extra cautious when you unscrew the inflator, because it’s easy to inadvertently remove the core along with it. But it's sturdy and boasts a control lever, so it may earn a spot in your bike pouch.
Topeak HybridRocket HP If you’re having trouble deciding between a CO2 inflator and a hand pump, why not both? The Topeak HybridRocket HP is a single unit that gives you two inflation options, leaving you with very little to worry about. topeak.com
Lezyne 18K Gold Series Kit Both the price and the styling might be too much for some, but for those who love a little bling, the Lezyne 18K Gold Series Kit might be perfect. You’ll not only receive an inflator with a cartridge but also a hand pump, multi-tool, and bottle cage, all in handsome 18-karat gold. competitivecyclist.com
The Benefits Of Biking
With all these incredible benefits that biking offers, you’ll probably want to go hop on the nearest frame and start pedaling your way to your favorite spots.
Since its invention, the bicycle has been a pretty efficient way to get around in most cities and towns. It can take you from point A to point B almost as fast as most vehicles can travel on a crowded road, especially since you can weave among cars and get to the front of the line at lights when you’re on a bike. There's nothing more exciting than being passed by a car on one part of the road, only to overtake it and exceed its place down the line.
Not only can a bike get you around a lot faster than walking and, in certain situations, more effectively than a car, it’s also much better for the environment to ride your bike to work or school, or just when running simple errands around town. Even if you don’t believe that your vehicle can have a negative effect on the environment, then at least consider the effect that gasoline has on your wallet every time you fill up.
Perhaps most importantly, however, is that riding a bike gets your heart rate up without sending it skyrocketing beyond your target heart rate. By elevating your pulse just enough to get you into a fat burning mode, your body will reap all the cardiovascular benefits of consistent exercise while simultaneously slimming your waistline. That also means that you won’t have to worry about the negative effects of impact on your joints from running, or the stress you might put on your system by exceeding your maximum heart rate.
With all these incredible benefits that biking offers, you’ll probably want to go hop on the nearest frame and start pedaling your way to your favorite spots. In order to make sure you get there without any interruptions, however, you’ll want to invest in a handful of useful accessories, many of which we’ll get to below, but one of which is the focus of our time here today: the CO2 inflator.
Why It’s Smart To Keep An Inflator On Hand
If you’ve ever been caught with a flat tire on the side of the road, you know how stranded you can feel. This applies to both bicyclists and drivers, especially those who are unprepared. Opening your trunk to realize that you have neither a spare nor a jack is enough to make you woozy with grief. There’s little difference between this situation and finding yourself with a flat on your bike, except for the fact that you won’t have the comfort of a car’s cabin to retreat to if the weather turns wet or cold on you.
If you spend any significant amount of time on your bicycle, you’re going to want to keep a CO2 tire inflator on hand.
If you spend any significant amount of time on your bicycle, you’re going to want to keep a CO2 tire inflator on hand. These are much lighter and easier to pack into a messenger bag or backpack than a full-size pump, meaning that you’ll have more room in that bag for anything from groceries to school books. Many units also attach directly to your bike frame, which means that you can hit the road without any bag at all, and that's a must for those looking to work on race times or to use their bikes exclusively for exercise.
CO2 tire inflators also have the benefit of requiring no physical exertion to refill your tire. If you’ve been riding for an extended period and you get a flat when your energy stores are waning, the experience can leave you exhausted, making it tough to manipulate a manual bike pump. A CO2 tire inflator fills up with little more than the pull of a trigger, getting you back on the road faster and with less work. If you end up using your CO2 inflator for another item (like a basketball or soccer ball), you’ll benefit from this minimal exertion, as well.
Other Vital Biking Accessories
Getting your hands on a high-quality CO2 inflator is important, but it’s only one part of the kit you should have with you if you intend to bike a fair distance with any regularity. Obviously, we’re looking at flats here, and a good inflator can’t do much to keep air pressure high inside a tire that’s got a hole in it. In addition to the inflator itself, it’s vital that you keep a patch kit and a spare inner tube with you. You might also need a special tool to get the tire itself safely off the wheel in order to patch it and replace a damaged tube.
You might also need a special tool to get the tire itself safely off the wheel in order to patch it and replace a damaged tube.
Once you’ve completed your roadside tire maintenance kit, you should take a look at your arsenal of visibility tools. These should include a reflective vest of some kind that you can throw on over whatever else you’re wearing. A good vest will pull double-duty, as well, providing a reflective surface that makes you more visible to motorists, and protecting your shirt or jacket from getting stained or damaged by flying debris.
You also might want to upgrade your helmet. A normal helmet is all well and good, and it’s far better than riding without one. But today’s models include some smart helmets that can display turn signals that you activate with a bluetooth controller installed on your handlebars. It’s a level of safety that wasn’t available to us just a few years ago. On the topic of lights, USB-rechargeable LED headlights and taillights are an inexpensive investment that can be the difference between life and death when riding at night.
If you want to extend your maintenance practice to the rest of your bike, you’re going to need to elevate it of the ground. Investing in a good bicycle repair stand is the fastest way to turn your garage (or even the street in front of your place) into your very own bike repair shop.
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