When your tire is low on air while you are riding, what’s better to use? A bicycle hand pump or a CO2 tire inflator?
Watch in the video below, or click here to watch the video on the Texas Mountain Bike Trails YouTube channel.
Bicycle Hand Pump or CO2 Tire Inflator?
Which one of these is better to use? It’s really more of personal preference, but there are some good reasons to use one over the other.
Let’s take a look at each and then I will share what my preference is and why.
Bicycle Hand Pump
A bicycle hand pump is a small portable bicycle pump that is usually about a 1 or 1.5 feet in length. It’s small enough that it can fit in your Camelbak or can be mounted to your frame using a velcro strap or a clip on a water bottle cage it mounts to the side of your bike. The great thing about these pumps is that they never run out of air, if you had to ride 15 miles on a flat tire you could conceivably do it with some duct tape and one of these pumps by just stopping ever couple of miles and putting some extra air in.
The downside to a bicycle hand pump is that it can be absolutely exhausting to air up a tire with. What I really like about the Park Tool PMP-5 frame pump is that it has a good grip and fits on pretty much any frame. Hand grip no a bicycle hand pump is the most important part, if you have one with a poor grip then it makes the daunting task of airing up your tires even more tiresome and aggravating. Airing up a tire to 35 psi can take between 20 and 50 pumps. After you have already been riding hard and are a little bit tired, this is the last thing I want to do.
CO2 Tire Inflator
A CO2 tire inflator is a great way to air up your tire while your on the trails, in a race or just cruising around the neighborhood. These are ultra-portable and are easily kept in the back pocket of your cycling jersey, in a Camelbak, or in a bag under your seat. I love these CO2 tire inflators because they are so easy to use and work incredibly quickly. You can easily air up a flat tire in seconds. Just put the CO2 cartridge in the adapter, then put it over the tube valve and twist the adapter or pull the trigger, immediately the tube starts to inflate and before long your back on your way.
Sram Trigger Red Inflator With Cartridge – $20.00
Retail Price: $30.00
You Save: $10.00
from: Jenson USA
The downside to a Co2 tire inflator is that they aren’t never ending like the frame pump. A cartridge is good for one use and then you’re off to the store to buy another one. They do make a couple of different sizes. For road bikes and 26 inch mountain bike tires you should be good with the 16 gram cartridges. For 29ers and tubeless tires I would recommend the 40 gram “Big Air” cartridges. These “Big Air” cartridges are capable of re-sealing a tubeless tire with the force it can put out.
I personally love the Sram Trigger Inflator because it is so easy to use. Instead of having to screw on the adapter and then adjust the tension to let out air, all you have to do is cover the valve and pull the trigger. Super simple. It’s also conveniently in one piece in your pocket or bag so you don’t have to hunt around for additional pieces.
Back To The Question, Bicycle Hand Pump or Co2 Tire Inflator?
Personally, I greatly prefer the CO2 tire inflators, they take up less space on the bike and are easier to use. I tend to buy my CO2 cartridges in bulk because you get a slightly cheaper price per cartridge, but you also have them available when you need them. JensonUSA usually has pretty good prices on cartridges. I can get this pack of 6 that will last me nearly a year, money well spent in my mind.
Innovations CO2 Replacement Cartridges – $21.99
Retail Price: $31.99
You Save: $10.00
from: Jenson USA
I like to use the Sram CO2 tire inflator with my race kit on both my mountain and road bike. This is my preferrence because during a race its all about being fast. If I have to change a tube or put some extra air in, this is the fastest way to do it. I also keep some extra CO2 cartridges and a small twist on adapter inside the seat bag of each of my bikes and inside of my Camelbak so that I’m always prepared.