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SKS Airboy CO2 mini pump – review

Due to the rise in the use of hydro-formed tubes on aluminium frames and interesting shapes of carbon frames, it seems almost impossible, these days, to fit a traditional frame pump on a bike. This leaves a mini pump or CO2 canister as the only real option to inflate a tyre after you’ve fixed a puncture at the roadside, either of which can clip into a bracket next to a bottle cage or be slipped in a jersey pocket or saddlebag.

With a CO2 canister, a tyre can be quickly inflated, but you’re stuck if you get a second puncture on the same ride unless you’ve taken the precaution of carrying spare canisters and tubes. However, with a mini pump, while it can take longer to inflate a tyre, you can use it again and again, again providing you have enough tubes and/or patches.

Fortunately, SKS have taken the advantages of both the mini pump and CO2 canisters and combined them with the Airboy CO2 mini pump. Much as the name implies, the Airboy CO2 is a mini pump that doubles up as a CO2 inflater. Use the CO2 to fix the first puncture you get on a ride and then if you’re unfortunate enough to puncture again there’s the elbow grease backup of the mini pump. The package includes the mini pump and gas canister, and also a bracket to carry both that mounts on the bike’s bottle bosses.

Should you need to use the pump itself, because you’ve got a second puncture and have a spare tube but not any gas canisters, it is fairly effective, and more so than I expected. The pump has a very short stroke, just 11cm, but the wide barrel offers a high volume of air on each stroke. SKS say the Airboy CO2 is capable of achieving a maximum pressure of 73PSI, though I was only able to pump a tyre up from flat to 65PSI – a little lower than claimed but certainly rideable enough to get you home. There are mini pumps out there which will achieve a higher pressure, but the Airboy CO2 is best employed as a CO2 inflator, with the back-up of a mini-pump.

Conclusion

Like all CO2 canister systems the Airboy is great at inflating a single tyre quickly but unless you carry spare gas canisters any further tyre inflation will be down to the mini pump, which despite its diminutive size is effective at getting a tyre up to rideable pressure in double-quick time. With the Airboy, SKS have created a workable solution to the problem of post-puncture roadside tyre inflation, making it very quick with a gas canister, or offering the back-up option of a useful and effective mini pump.

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