There’s nothing more frustrating than being stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. That’s where CO2 bike tire inflators come in. These handy devices can inflate your tire quickly, getting you back on the road.
To ensure you’re equipped with the best, we delved deep into the world of CO2 inflators. We’ve tested countless brands, pored over hundreds of user reviews, and even sought advice from professionals.
Whether working with a tight budget or looking to splurge on the premium end, this guide covers you.
It’s time to pump up the knowledge and get back on the road faster.
In A Rush? Here Are Our Top CO2 Bike Tire Inflators
Review Of The Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators
We recently enjoyed using the Lezyne Control Drive CO2 inflator and found it an essential addition to our saddlebag.
Made out of CNC-machined aluminum with brass internals, this has been built to last. This quality design makes it a dependable inflator for use in any type of weather condition. The Lezyne will inflate your tire in no time flat (pun intended)!
We experienced freezing with the CO2 cartridge, which can be concerning if not handled carefully. However, it does come with a high-quality neoprene sleeve on the canister to protect your hands against the cold released from the gas.
The twin slip chuck is a fantastic feature, as it provides compatibility with both Presta and Schrader valves. Having this compatibility means one less thing to worry about when packing your flat kit for different types of bikes!
Lastly, we found it slightly challenging to operate the inflator in tight spaces, but the oversized control knob still gave us excellent control over the speed and volume of CO2 release.
Overall, this is our top pick for hassle-free and efficient tire reinflation!
This beautifully designed yet simple inflator comes from Portland Design Works.
We can confidently say that it gets the job done and is undoubtedly a spartan-looking pump – no frills, just effective.
It embodies three essential factors in making a good CO2 inflator: lightweight, compact, and works as intended! The fact that it’s even smaller than a CO2 cartridge means we can always have it with us without taking up much space.
The control knob allows us to regulate the speed of CO2 release, ensuring we don’t waste any gas while inflating our tires. The compatibility with Presta and Schrader valves is a plus, as it saves us from carrying multiple inflators.
The leather sleeve and CO2 cartridge that come with the inflator add a touch of elegance to an otherwise functional tool. The vegetable-tanned leather sleeve looks beautiful and protects our hands from the cold when operating the inflator.
One potential drawback is that the Shiny Object is only compatible with 16g threaded CO2 cartridges. However, this size is more than sufficient for inflating bike tires during our rides.
Additionally, the instructions on the box could be more detailed, although we figured things out with little difficulty.
Simply put, this inflator looks incredibly unique. The beauty is in its simplicity.
Here is the bang-for-buck option. Ideal for budget-conscious cyclists who need a CO2 inflator now but do not want to break the bank, relatively speaking!
When we tried the BriskMore CO2 Inflator, we were impressed with its classic and durable design. This inflator is made of solid aluminum alloy and can withstand regular use. It easily fits in our saddlebags, making it the perfect store-and-forget item!
We appreciate that it fits both Presta and Schrader valves, meaning we don’t need to carry multiple inflators.
The included washers also ensured a tight seal, preventing leakage during inflation. The control valve lets us easily adjust the CO2 flow to our desired tire pressure.
On the downside, the insulated rubber foam sleeve can only fit 16g CO2 cartridges. Additionally, only three extra washers were included. You’ll need to replace them after a few inflations.
Overall, the BriskMore CO2 Inflator is a user-friendly and budget-friendly solution for cyclists looking for a reliable tire inflator.
The Pro Bike Tool inflator is very popular in the cycling community, and we can see why.
We were impressed by its convenience and efficiency.
Inflating a tire within seconds was effortless using the 1-turn Valve System. It also allowed for controlled inflation with minimal fuss. The secure connection also ensured no leaks during use, unlike some cheaper CO2 inflators we’ve encountered.
This inflator is great for packing in a cycling jersey pocket or saddlebag, making it an ideal tool to bring along on any ride.
However, we’d like to emphasize that it’s incompatible with valve extenders and requires extra care when used with Presta valves with removable cores. Additionally, CO2 cartridges are not included with the purchase, so remember to grab some separately.
One note of caution is that the foam cover is a little thin, so you’ll need to be extra careful or ensure you are wearing gloves to maximize the protection of your hands.
From the fine folks at Muc Off comes this inflator kit. It comes in the signature Muc Off pink that pops and is sure to draw compliments from your fellow riders.
This handy tool helped us get back on our bikes quickly after encountering a flat tire during our ride. The inflator kit is compact and easy to carry, making it perfect for emergencies when a bike pump isn’t readily available.
One thing we loved about this inflator kit is the included Muc-Off neoprene sleeve. It keeps the cartridges safe and protects our hands from freeze burns when using the inflator.
The CNC-machined inflator head is durable and compatible with Presta and Schrader valves. We appreciated the soft-touch press-down button, although it took us a few tries to get the hang of controlling the CO2 release.
This kit comes with two 16-gram cartridges to prepare you for multiple flats. This kit has two variants, one for road bikes and one for MTBs, so be careful when clicking buy.
The iconic pink design will speak volumes to your fellow cyclists!
- One of the lightest inflators on the market
- Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
- Easy push-to-inflate technology
- May not work well with some non-Genuine Innovations cartridges
- Possible seal issues with shorter valve stems
- Fragile red O-ring
From the Genuine Innovations Store comes this incredibly light and efficient inflator.
Its lightweight structure allows us to carry it in our saddlebags without feeling any added bulk. The push-to-inflate technology offers us quick and hassle-free tire inflation, especially during unexpected flat situations.
The AirChuck works well with both Presta and Schrader valves. This universal compatibility allows us to use it on multiple bikes without worrying about different valve types.
The inflator head is also compatible with 16, 20, and 25-gram threaded CO2 cartridges, making it versatile for different inflating needs.
However, we did notice that there could be some issues when using non-Genuine Innovations CO2 cartridges. It is essential to ensure that your cartridges are compatible to avoid any problems when inflating tires.
Another thing worth mentioning is that we experienced difficulties when trying to create a good seal with shorter valve stems. The red O-ring also seemed fragile, so be cautious when using the inflator.
Carry A CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – Don’t Let A Flat Stop Your Ride
Getting a flat in the best circumstances, whether riding around your block or in the middle of a brutal 100-mile ride, can be frustrating. A flat tire can ruin your ride and day if you are not careful.
If you are like me, you have spent plenty of time using an electric bike pump, glaring at the slowly inflating tire, wondering how much longer it will take.
If you want to ensure that you never have to push your bike back home ever again, then make sure to invest in a handy CO2 inflator.
Here’s a guide to help you choose the best CO2 inflator for your inner tubes:
How Does A CO2 Bike Tire Inflator Work?
If you have never used or seen one, CO2 inflators are straightforward tools. They are composed of four essential parts.
- The inflator head – this fits over the valve on your bike and facilitates the flow of CO2 into your tire.
- The control knob – this allows you to control the flow of CO2 into your tire. You can adjust the flow according to your needs.
- The CO2 canister – chances are you have seen these small, round canisters before. They look like a miniaturized scuba tank. The canister threads into the inflator head.
- The canister sleeve – Made out of foam or plastic, the sleeve protects your hands from burning your hands on the tank due to the release of CO2.
These are the basic components found in most CO2 inflators. There are some differences, however, and we will discuss those more in the following section.
Different Types Of CO2 Inflators
A standard CO2 inflator kit has two pieces – the inflator (aka nozzle) and the cartridge. There are a few differences between CO2 inflators you will want to know about. The differences exist in inflator head design and the types of tanks used.
- Trigger Style: Allows you to control the flow of CO2 with a button or trigger. This allows you to stop and start the CO2 flow as needed.
- Twist/Push-to-Inflate: You must twist or push the cartridge into the inflator head to release the CO2.
There are a couple of things to consider when looking at CO2 cartridges. First is how it connects to the inflator.
- Threaded vs. Non-threaded: Some inflators use threaded cartridges, while others use non-threaded. “Threaded” and “non-threaded” is how it’s connected to the inflator. One is a screw top (threaded), and one isn’t (non-threaded). Ensure the inflator you select matches the CO2 cartridges you plan to carry.
- Cartridge Size: CO2 cartridges come in various sizes, usually 12g, 16g, 20g, or 25g. The size you need will depend on your bike tire volume. Ensure your inflator can accommodate the size of cartridges you plan to use.
The other thing to consider is the construction material.
- Metal (Aluminum/Brass): Durable and less prone to freezing while discharging CO2.
- Plastic: Lighter but might not be as durable as metal inflators.
Compatibility with Tire Valves
Ensure the inflator is compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves unless you’re sure about the kind of valve you’ll be inflating.
CO2 cartridges can get extremely cold when discharging.
Some inflators have a protective sleeve or foam cover to prevent hand freeze. Consider this if you’ll be using the inflator without gloves.
Here are a final few items to think about when picking up a CO2 inflator:
- Size and Weight – If you’re a weight-conscious cyclist, especially in racing or long-distance touring, you’ll want to opt for a compact and lightweight inflator.
- Reliability – An inflator should have an excellent seal to prevent CO2 leakage and be durable enough to last several uses.
- Extras – Some kits come with additional items like spare cartridges, patches, or tire levers. These can be handy for on-the-go repairs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many uses can I get from one CO2 cartridge?
Typically, one CO2 cartridge can inflate a single road tire to around 90-130 psi or a mountain bike tire to 30-50 psi.
However, the exact pressure achieved will depend on the tire size and the cartridge’s volume.
Can I partially use a CO2 cartridge and save the rest for later?
Once a CO2 cartridge is pierced and used, it cannot be resealed.
Any unused CO2 will leak out, so use the full cartridge or prepare for the remaining gas to dissipate.
How do I ensure the CO2 doesn’t leak while inflating?
Ensure the inflator’s seal is in good condition and correctly attached to the tire’s valve. Some inflators also have a control knob or trigger to help regulate the CO2 flow and prevent leaks.
All CO2 inflators have their pros and cons. Honestly, I like them all for different reasons.
When it is all said and done, my preference is the Lezyne Control Drive, but only by a nose. I love the oversized control knob that makes it easy to control the release.