CO2 inflators are becoming increasingly popular with cyclists, and it’s easy to see why. Out on the road, they offer plenty of advantages over the tried and tested alternative of a hand-pump.
The choice of inflators has now never been greater. Happily, the best CO2 bike tire inflators have also never been better made and never been so affordable.
Therefore, we decided to put together a review of the most popular tire inflators currently on the market. So, let’s get to it and find the best Co2 inflator for your bike…
- 1 What are CO2 Inflators?
- 2 Top 5 Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators To Purchase In 2021 Review
- 2.1 1 LEZYNE Control Drive CO2 Bicycle Inflator & 16g Cartridge| Presta & Schrader Compatible – Best Quality CO2 Bike Tire Inflator with Universal Adapter
- 2.2 2 MARQUE AirJet Max CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – Pump high Volume Tires with Presta and Schrader Valves – Best Lightweight CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
- 2.3 3 Black CO2 inflators for Bikes Tire by BriskMore, Presta, and Schrader Valve Compatible – Best Affordable Small CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
- 2.4 4 Genuine Innovations G20310 Ultraflate Plus CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – Best Bike Tire Inflator with 20g CO2 Cartridge
- 2.5 5 Mini CO₂ Bicycle Air Pump – Presta and Schrader Compatible – Best Mini CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
- 3 Are the Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators worth it?
- 4 Other Useful Bike Accessories…
- 5 So which of the Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators should you go for?
What are CO2 Inflators?
CO2 inflators, in conjunction with a gas canister, are essentially a much quicker and easier way to inflate your tires. Compared to using a traditional or mini-pump, they can save you an appreciable amount of time and effort.
The CO2 inflator connects to a gas canister. The purpose of the CO2 inflator is to provide a means to transfer the gas from the canister and into your bike tire.
How to use it?
The inflator screws into the canister and subsequently punctures the canister’s seal, thereby allowing the gas to be discharged. The gas is then retained and released by the CO2 inflator’s regulator valve.
Once the CO2 inflator has been connected to the canister, the inflator’s hose is then attached to the valve on your bike’s innertube. You are then free to use the regulator to discharge the gas into your tire at the speed of your choosing.
Why you need a CO2 Inflator?
The fact is that you don’t actually need a CO2 inflator. If you are perfectly happy to use a pump or a mini pump to inflate your tires, then you should stick with it. One of the huge advantages of a regular pump is that air is free.
So, why should we ever bother with a CO2 inflator?
There are two main reasons which are speed and ease of use.
If you are in the house and have a floor-standing pump, then the need to inflate your tires quickly is just not there. At home, and with ready access to a floor standing pump and free air, the CO2 inflator and cartridges can be left locked away.
However, once you’re out on the road, it’s a different story.
When you’re on a ride, particularly on more competitive or group rides, you don’t want to spend an undue amount of time inflating a repaired tire. These days, most cyclists, if they don’t use a CO2 inflator, carry around a mini-pump because of space and weight savings. Consequently, filling a tube with air will take a much longer time in comparison to a floor standing pump.
Seconds versus minutes…
Compared to using an inflator and gas canister, this difference is even more marked. Using an inflator can take seconds rather than minutes. This means if you’re quick at refitting your tube, it’s not impossible to do a complete tube replacement and inflation in under a minute.
If you’re competing in a race, it could give you the chance of getting back with the group. It could undoubtedly improve your ranking or time in any race. Alternatively, it could just save you from time spent on the roadside on a cold or rainy day.
The second advantage of a CO2 regulator is that they require no effort to use. A floor-standing pump requires minimal exertion, but if you’re out on a ride and have a mini-pump, things will be very different.
Fully inflating a tire with a mini-pump takes a lot of effort. The fact is that it’s so exerting that a lot of us will give up and settle for putting an under-inflated tire back on our bike rather than persevering and getting it to the right pressure.
The result of this will be an underperforming tire and bike. Handling will be worse, rolling resistance will be worse, and you leave yourself more vulnerable to a pinch flat and another puncture.
Out on the road, other than for longer and less time-sensitive rides, there are undoubtedly good reasons to use a CO2 regulator. Despite the cost involved, it can frequently make a lot of sense.
Top 5 Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators To Purchase In 2021 Review
1 LEZYNE Control Drive CO2 Bicycle Inflator & 16g Cartridge| Presta & Schrader Compatible – Best Quality CO2 Bike Tire Inflator with Universal Adapter
The Lezyne CO2 bike tire inflator has a high-quality CNC aluminum outer casing. The internals are brass. It’s very well put together and undoubtedly one of the best CO2 bike tire inflators in terms of quality. This is a product that’s durable and reliable.
The colors and design are very much in keeping with Lezyne’s range of biking accessories. The head of the inflator comes in a choice of four colors. We’re not exactly sure why but you get the choice anyway.
Mini gas canisters…
You can use the inflator together with any mini gas canister regardless of its size. You get the option of purchasing just the inflator, or you can opt to get it with a 16g cartridge. Whatever you order, a neoprene sleeve for the gas cartridge is included.
This is pretty much a must-have, as, without one, you run the risk of your fingers freezing when you discharge the canister. A nasty experience, as anyone who’s suffered from it will tell you.
The good news is that this compact and lightweight inflator can be used with both Schrader and Presta valves. This is via a universal connector that sits at one side of the hammer-head inflator. On the other side, there is a knurled regulator control valve.
The valve is nice and easy to use. The knurling ensures a good grip and makes it easy to control gas flow to prevent over inflation. This all means you can safely pump up your tires in seconds.
Now, who wouldn’t want that?
- Schrader or Presta valve compatible.
- Well-machined and finished.
- Easy to operate flow regulator.
- Gas cartridge sleeve included.
- Inflator must be held over the valve during inflation.
2 MARQUE AirJet Max CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – Pump high Volume Tires with Presta and Schrader Valves – Best Lightweight CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
This has to be one of the most compact and lightest CV02 bike inflators you can buy. It’s tiny actually and weighs just 1.5oz. Even when you put it together with a couple of cartridges, you’ll never have to worry about carrying much weight.
Oversized knurled flow regulator…
The Marque is made from CNC aluminum. One of its most outstanding features is the oversized knurled flow regulator. This is smooth to open and close. Plus, it’s also easy to get your fingers around even when you’re wearing a pair of full-fingered gloves on those colder rides.
We love the regulator knob, but even better is the fact that this is so well-engineered that there’s no chance of a leak. That’s good peace of mind since a leak will not only leave you with under-inflated tires but will also leave you with over chilled fingers. From personal experience, we can tell you that’s a bad experience.
Insulating sleeve provided too…
To further ensure your fingers don’t get frostbite when you discharge the canister, the inflator comes with an insulating sleeve. We strongly suggest you use it. Unfortunately, the sleeve will only fit on a 16g cartridge. If you do choose to use a larger one, you’ll have to source suitable sleeves elsewhere.
The inflator is compatible with all sizes of mini cartridges. Additionally, it has a universal head that connects to either a Schrader or Presta valve. This leaves you covered from all angles.
Finally, it’s good to see that Marque stand by their product. They offer a full guarantee of either a refund or a replacement product if you’re not completely happy.
- Large knurled flow regulator knob.
- Leak-free regulator.
- Includes an insulating sleeve for the 16g canister.
- Full customer satisfaction warranty.
- No gas canister included.
3 Black CO2 inflators for Bikes Tire by BriskMore, Presta, and Schrader Valve Compatible – Best Affordable Small CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
This is the smallest and least expensive CO2 tire inflator on our list. If you’re looking for a good deal and want to trim every last possible gram off your bike’s overall weight, this could be what you’re after.
The inflator weighs under a single ounce, which seems insane. We’re not sure how they’ve done this as the quality looks to be good from every which way you look at it. It’s made from aluminum and looks well-made and sturdy.
The flow regulator…
The one place we think they may have shaved off a few grams is on the flow regulator. Compared to the Marque inflator that we’ve just reviewed, the regulator is noticeably smaller. The impact of this is that it’s more challenging to operate, and this is, even more the case when you’re wearing gloves.
The inflator can be used with all sizes of mini gas cartridges with a screw-on fitting. There are no gas canisters included with the inflator and no combination packages offered. However, this is no big issue since plenty of online sellers provide great deals on cartridges.
Although you don’t get a gas cartridge, the BriskMore canister does come with an insulated sleeve. However, we were not overly impressed with this one. It’s a rubber sleeve rather than a neoprene sleeve, and frankly, it’s bulky.
More positively, BriskMore is another company to offer full customer satisfaction in the form of either a refund or replacement product. Well done, guys and girls.
The inflator can be used with both Schrader and Presta valves.
- It’s super-light.
- Compatible with all bike tires.
- Customer satisfaction guarantee.
- Fiddly to operate regulator.
- Bulky gas cartridge sleeve.
4 Genuine Innovations G20310 Ultraflate Plus CO2 Bike Tire Inflator – Best Bike Tire Inflator with 20g CO2 Cartridge
We applaud Genuine Innovations for taking a different approach to tire inflation in conjunction with a gas canister. There’s no doubt that this is an innovative solution. However, the question has to be, is it any good?
Let’s find out…
Rather than attaching the inflator to the gas canister in such a way that means you have to keep hold of the canister while it’s being discharged, with Ultraflate Plus, the gas canister fits inside an integrated thick casing. The fact is that this means you never need to worry about getting frozen fingers. It also does away with the need for having to squeeze an insulating sleeve on every new cartridge you use.
That’s all very neat and time-saving…
The Ultraflate Plus also has the advantage that it can be used with a 20g non-threaded cartridge, which is included, along with more standard 16g, 20, and 25g cartridges, which are not included.
On the one hand, you get the advantage of having the option of using a non-threaded cartridge, but on the other, you are restricted to a maximum of a 25g cartridge. This is because the cartridge has to sit inside the main casing. If you have a fat bike or larger tires, this could be a deal-breaker as a smaller cartridge will be unlikely to provide sufficient gas to fully inflate your tires.
Trigger flow regulator…
The inflator can be used with either Schrader or Presta valves and is discharged via a trigger that regulates the flow. The trigger is a cool idea, but it doesn’t give as much control as a lever or knob.
All in all, it’s not a bad design and an interesting idea. However, unfortunately, there have been reported quality control issues relating to leaking gas and even explosions. This may have now been sorted out, but it’s never the less something to be aware of.
- Integrated casing.
- No need for a canister sleeve.
- Schrader and Presta valve compatible.
- Can use with a 20g non-threaded gas canister.
- 20g gas canister included.
- Past quality control issues.
- Lack of control with trigger-style flow regulator.
5 Mini CO₂ Bicycle Air Pump – Presta and Schrader Compatible – Best Mini CO2 Bike Tire Inflator
This West Biking mini-CO2 tire inflator features a lever regulator flow valve. We like it a lot, and in our experience, this is definitely amongst the best CO2 bike tire inflators in terms of the quality of the regulator.
So, why do we like it so much?
Simply put, it’s the easiest to use. Switching it on or off and accurately regulating the flow is a breeze. There’s nothing fiddly about this at all. Plus, operating it in gloves, which we often wear, doesn’t represent any kind of challenge.
Full marks on the regulator.
So, what about the rest of the inflator?
Pretty much all good here too.
It’s well made, lightweight, and has a good thread that makes attaching the canisters a simple job. Also, it’s compatible with all mini cartridges though no canisters are provided. You do, however, get a rubber insulation sleeve that will fit a 16g variant. Unfortunately, the sleeve is another bulky affair, so that’s one for the minor moans and niggles section.
Other than this one minor complaint…
Everything else is good. The inflator is small, lightweight, it’s inexpensive, and can be used, via the universal head, with either Schrader or Presta valves. It even comes with a customer satisfaction exchange or refund policy.
There’s very little not to like about this one.
- Excellent flow regulator.
- Suitable for all valves.
- Manufacturer’s warranty.
- Bulky rubber cartridge sleeve.
Are the Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators worth it?
In a word, yes. Used in the right circumstances, they are an excellent alternative to using a standard pump. The quality of CO2 inflators these days is also high. Almost regardless of the inflator you choose, you will be sure to effectively discharge the gas from the canister and into your bike’s tube.
CO2 inflators continue to gain traction and are a much more common site amongst cyclists’ kit. They are here to stay and for plenty of good reasons. For any keen or competitive cyclist, they have very much become an essential product.
What size co2 do I need to fill a road bike tire?
For a wheel no larger than 29” and with a diameter of no more than 32mm, a 16g canister will be sufficient. It should be noted that on the higher end of this spectrum, it could mean you can achieve no more than around 70psi. Realistically, this should be enough in most circumstances.
For wheels between 32mm to 42mm, either a 20g or a 25g canister is recommended. If you tend to run your pressures relatively low, opt for the 20g canister. If you run your pressures high, 25g is a better choice.
For wheels that are typically found on mountain bikes, between 2.0” to 2.5”, you will need a 38g canister. If you’re running anything larger than this, you’re likely to need a couple of 25g or even 38g canisters unless you’re using very low pressures.
How do you use co2 inflators?
The good news is that all CO2 inflators are easy to use. Although they may have different types of regulators to control the gas flow, they essentially all work in the same way.
To use an inflator, you first make sure the valve is closed before screwing the canister into the regulator. Next, attach the inflator’s hose onto the valve of your inner tube. Then, slowly open the regulator valve and release the gas into your tube. Finally, when the tube has reached the desired pressure, shut off the valve and unscrew the CO2 inflator from your inner tube’s valve.
And that’s all there is to it.
How long do CO2 cartridges last?
Once a CO2 cartridge has been screwed into the regulator, it cannot be removed.
This means that for the practical purpose, these are one use only items. In theory, if you have enough gas left in the canister, you could either use it on another tube or keep it for later use. However, since you are only ever likely to have a cartridge with enough gas to fill just a single tube of whatever size you’re running, this is an unlikely scenario.
This, therefore, means you can safely assume CO2 canisters are single use only.
How much CO2 should I inflate my bike tires with?
Wider bike tires will require a lower psi than narrower tires. One of the main reasons we inflate tires to higher pressures is to avoid pinch flats. These are more likely to happen on narrower tires, which is why they require more pressure.
The main criteria…
Running your tires at different pressures will very much depend on factors like your weight, the weight you’re carrying, the terrain you’re riding on, and the requirements of grip and comfort.
All in all, it’s a vast subject. If you’re unsure of how much gas to use and what pressure your tires should be running at, there are online charts that will give you some basic guidelines. However, in our experience, trial and error from the norms will often bring you to your optimum figure.
Other Useful Bike Accessories…
While you’re browsing bicycle accessories, you may want to check out our reviews of the Best Bike Camera, the Best Bicycle Pump, the Best Bike Helmets, the Best Cycling Glasses, the Best Cycling Gloves, and the Best Bike Lights you can buy.
Or, take a quick look at our reviews of the Best Bicycle Tool Kits, Best Bicycle Seat Review, the Best Bike Mirrors, the Best Bike Racks, the Best Trunk Mount Bike Rack, the Best 2 Bike Car Racks, or our Best Bike Chains Review?
OK, back to the best CO2 Bicycle tire inflators…
So which of the Best CO2 Bike Tire Inflators should you go for?
There we have it. We are big fans of tire inflators, and as keen cyclists, we all have at least one tucked away somewhere. The CO2 bike tire inflators in our review contain some great options. In fact, so much so that we’d be happy to take any one of them out with us on our rides.
However, if we had to choose only one, it would be the…
This is our top pick because we love the easy-to-use flow regulator. It’s least fiddly to use and by far the best to open and close when wearing gloves. We also like that it’s lightweight, well made, suitable for all tubes and that it’s the least expensive on our list.
Enjoy your bikes and enjoy your rides.