We test the fastest, most convenient CO2 inflators to blast the wind back into your wheels – so a puncture needn’t destroy your PB mission.
1. Genuine Innovations Hammerhead £17.99, buy online.
Genuine Innovations’ latest design is impressively slick. The 16g cartridge screws into the minimalist HammerHead without leaking, but be wary of accidentally nudging the push button on the back. Once slid home and triggered the button is impressively accurate for regulating flow rate and again there’s no leaking from the EZ Connect/Auto Detect valve of the Proflate Elite headunit.
2. Lezyne Control Drive £19.79, buy online.
Lezyne kit is always stylish and that applies to this dial-valve controlled model of their six-strong inflator family. As long as you make sure the valve is fully closed, the cartridge engages without leaking. Then it’s just a case of sticking the adjustable head onto the valve and carefully opening the control dial to release the cartridge. A neoprene sleeve stops cold burn, but you need to be careful of the head if you’ve not got gloves on.
3. Portland Design Works Shiny Object £15.30, buy online.
The most steampunk-styled inflator here, the Shiny Object is really well priced for a valve controlled inflator. The leather sleeve does a decent protection job and there’s no leaking when you screw the cartridge in if the dial is closed shut. Having the dial opposite the cartridge, accessible on the far side of the wheel, is a bonus and the all metal construction makes it tough, too. This is the best value yet most aristocratic-looking inflator.
4. Vittoria Pitstop £7.15, buy online.
Vittoria’s sealant and CO2 canister is potentially the best fast puncture fix and it’s great value too. Rather than replacing the tube, you stick the can onto your valve and hope the sealant inside will block the hole as it blows the tyre up. If you’re lucky (and we generally were) it’s the fastest way to get racing again (and the only way to repair rather than replace a tubular tyre on the road). You may want to carry a pump or CO2 cartridge, too, just in case.
5. Topeak CO2bra £19.79, buy online.
Topeak’s snake-headed CO2bra makes us smile, protects fingers and works well if you practise first. There’s some gas escape as you connect the cartridge to activate the red (full and ready) or green (empty) indicator. Flipping the lever up discharges gas through the universal fit valve. The operation isn’t obvious at first so it’s worth practising, and shopping round for alternatives to Topeak’s expensive spare cartridges.
6. Truflo Minoot CO2 £13.49, buy online.
The cheapest and simplest here, but no less effective. Unscrew cartridge from ‘transport’ side of double-ended head. Flip up rubber cover and screw into ‘active’ end until spike punctures cartridge. Slide universal-fit head onto tyre valve then back the cartridge off quarter of a turn to release gas charge. Sealing is good and if you know what you’re doing (a lack of instructions doesn’t help) it’s a simple, cost-effective tyre filler.