(March 6, 2010)
Originally adopted by racers as standard repair equipment during competition, fear of arm burnout, lack of patience and pump storage options on
modern bikes has made C02 inflators commonplace for non-race conditions. One thing is for sure, a C02 inflator can get you back up and riding is
world cup time.
There are drawbacks to C02 inflators. If you’ve ever witnessed someone on the trail (or on the side of the road) try
- but fail to correctly use a C02 inflator you know that the outcome can be dire. Usually the failure manifests itself in the form of a tire bead
blown off the rim or, even more infuriating, copious amount of C02 blowing off in every direction except into the valve stem (while simultaneously
freezing your fingers to the C02 cartridge). The failures are usually caused by a combination of user error and poor inflator design. Improving your
own ability to follow directions is up to you but starting with a well-designed inflator and, most importantly, giving it a practice run in the
garage, could save you a lot of trouble.
What I’m looking for in a C02 inflator is two main things. Control and more control. The
inflator valve needs to make good contact with the valve stem (and not wander off at different angles) and the user needs to be able to control
airflow. And it all has to work.
Mountain Flyer tested two options form Genuine Innovations: The mas svelte Microflate Nano (a minimalist
23.2g design) and the more user friendly Ultraflate 2.
Microflate Nano – Low Price, light weight, works on disc
The Microflate Nano basically
consists of nothing but a plastic valve piece so it can only be used with threaded cartridges. The Nano Design is specifically for those wanting a
CO2 inflator that can be used for disc/aero wheels or just those looking for an economical/minimalist inflator. The airflow on the Nano can be
controlled by carefully twisting the CO2 cartridge counterclockwise. It works well and it’s super light but it’s definitely geared more
towards racing conditions where you’re willing to forgo a little control to save a few grams. The inflator valve hugs the valve stem of the
tube nicely and I didn’t have any trouble getting the CO2 to flow into the tire where it belonged but it’s worth noting that it takes
two hands to control the inflator and requires some careful coordination. One nice thing about this design is that there is very little that can go
wrong with the device. I have an original Gennuine Innovations inflator that used roughly the same design – only it was a little more bulky. I
carried it with me for 5 race seasons without ever needing to use it (a record I’m sure). I finally ended up using it last year and it worked
flawlessly despite the build up of pocket lint inside the valve.Price: $13.99
Ultraflate 2 – More
For recreational use or just for
someone more concerned about features than weight, there is the Ultraflate 2. It’s similar to the original Ultraflate model only it’s
lighter, smaller and the control trigger has been significantly improved by making it flush with the casing (thumb controlled) so it can’t be
broken off or accidentally yanked on while floating around in your hydration pack. Compared to the Microflate Nano, the Ultraflate 2 is nearly twice
the weight at 39.6 grams (ohhh – weight weenies, get out your postal scales) and will not work with disc wheels but the big difference for
most of us is that it’s considerably easier to use because of the trigger control. The flat tire victim can hold the bike wheel with one hand
while controlling the airflow with the other. For me, that’s worth the extra 16.4g. The Utlraflate 2 can be used with threaded or threadless
CO2 cartridges (the plastic casing is removed when using threaded cartridges).
Both are excellent products and
Genuine Innovations backs ‘em up with a lifetime warranty.
More Info on Genuine Innovations