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CO2 inflators

Old 07-26-15, 09:09 PM
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CO2 inflators

Hi everyone. After getting a flat today, I am in the market for a CO2 inflator. I was lucky that I was only 6 miles from home and my wife was nice enough to come get me with the car. I was planning to get ready to commute to work a couple of days a week and actually was going to buy some tubes to keep on the bike tomorrow. Ironic?
Anyway, I saw the inflator pictured below at Wally World today. Any thoughts on this brand? From the information on the back of the package, looks like I would need two of the 16 gram cartridges to fill my 26" x 2.00" tubes. Max pressure on my tires say 65 psi. I have been keeping them at 60.
Is it as easy as the directions say it is? Seems a hell of a lot easier than some silly hand pump.

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Old 07-26-15, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by NOLABIKER View Post
Hi everyone. After getting a flat today, I am in the market for a CO2 inflator. I was lucky that I was only 6 miles from home and my wife was nice enough to come get me with the car. I was planning to get ready to commute to work a couple of days a week and actually was going to buy some tubes to keep on the bike tomorrow. Ironic?
Anyway, I saw the inflator pictured below at Wally World today. Any thoughts on this brand? From the information on the back of the package, looks like I would need two of the 16 gram cartridges to fill my 26" x 2.00" tubes. Max pressure on my tires say 65 psi. I have been keeping them at 60.
Is it as easy as the directions say it is? Seems a hell of a lot easier than some silly hand pump.

Some inflators are built better than others, the cheap ones have plastic bits and metal pins that can fall out with the normal jarring that goes with cycling, rendering them useless.

Keep in mind that once you inflate a tire with CO2 it will seep out even quicker than air pumped in will, so you should view CO2 inflation only as a temporary measure to get you home, then evacuate whatever is left and pump up with air instead, it will last much longer than CO2.
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Old 07-26-15, 11:08 PM
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A pump never runs out of air, and doesn't require you to spend money on refills. CO2 cartridges are empty after use, and you must spend money to replace them.

Cartridges are faster, but there's a reason why pumps are still tried and true for many (most?) cyclists.
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Old 07-26-15, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
Keep in mind that once you inflate a tire with CO2 it will seep out even quicker than air pumped in will, so you should view CO2 inflation only as a temporary measure to get you home, then evacuate whatever is left and pump up with air instead, it will last much longer than CO2.
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Old 07-26-15, 11:18 PM
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I use this kind..

Genuine Innovations Microflate Nano CO2 Inflator
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Old 07-27-15, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
...so you should view CO2 inflation only as a temporary measure to get you home, then evacuate whatever is left and pump up with air instead, it will last much longer than CO2.
That's exactly how I was looking at it, as a temporary measure to get me to where I am going.


Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Do you have trouble finding the threaded cylinders for it? Or do you just order online?

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Old 07-27-15, 06:51 AM
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I just bought this inflator and so far, I love it. On Amazon you can get this inflator with one or two 16g cartridges and most importantly, a leather sleeve that goes around a cartridge. When you inflate a tire with a CO2 cartridge, it and the inflator get so cold that they frost over and will "burn" you like dry ice.

I had to try mine out and the inflator worked just fine with my Presta valves and one 16g cartridge filled my 700 x 40mm tire to about 40psi. If I'm close to home, I'll just ride that home. If I'm further away, I carry two cartridges so I can get my tire to full pressure.

A word on CO2 leaking faster than air. I got my tire to 40psi with CO2 and then up to 65 with a pump. The next day, it was already back down to about 40psi. CO2 will literally get you home and that's about it.

I carry mine in a small saddle bag and I found that a camera case for a small point-and-shoot camera worked perfectly to hold 2 16 cartridges, my inflator, four allen keys (to fit everything on my bike) and the bearing pressure cap for my Hollow-tech II drivetrain (don't ask why I carry it....learned the hard way). My spare tube fits in a mesh pocket on the flap of my saddle bag, my "tool kit" sits in the bottom and there is still plenty of room for wallet and keys with room to spare.

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Old 07-27-15, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by skimaxpower View Post
A pump never runs out of air, and doesn't require you to spend money on refills. CO2 cartridges are empty after use, and you must spend money to replace them.

Cartridges are faster, but there's a reason why pumps are still tried and true for many (most?) cyclists.
I carry both. There's also a chance the cartridge lost its charge, you the user will waste it before getting more than a few lbs into the tube. I like how quick they are but also do not rely on them. OP. I believe they make bigger cartridges as well.
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Old 07-27-15, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by NOLABIKER View Post
That's exactly how I was looking at it, as a temporary measure to get me to where I am going.




Do you have trouble finding the threaded cylinders for it? Or do you just order online?
Bought mine On Line. from here.

http://www.redrockminnesota.com/co2-cartridges/
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Old 07-27-15, 07:49 AM
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OP, the inflator you pictured is probably fine and if it will take non-threaded cartridges, is a bit more versatile than just the mini inflators. But threaded cartridges are not at all hard to find, and the inflator heads are a lot less bulky. Two cartridges would be fine and is good practice to carry as backup; one cartridge would get you up to 35psi or so, more than enough to get you going in an emergency, to the nearest place you could top up your pressure.

Lately, I've only been carrying a CO2 cartridge and mini inflator. Used to carry a pump, then a hybrid pump/CO2 inflator, now just the inflator. All my bikes have puncture protection tires and flats are extremely rare.

The hybrid inflator I carried looks like this:


It is an extremely compact pump, so I carried it in a bag with one cartridge, instead of bolted underneath a waterbottle cage with the bracket shown here. Because it is so compact, it really is just a backup to the inflator. I never actually had to use the pump, only ended up using the inflator a few times, and since that ended up being the case, I feel confident just carrying an inflator now.

Upshot is that you can repair a flat very quickly, since pumping with a micro- or mini-pump takes a while vs. nearly instantaneous fill with the inflator/cartridge. Downside is it's a one-shot deal, so you better get it right the first time or be carrying an extra cartridge or two.

I'd advise wasting a cartridge to try it out and do a practice run at home before having to use it for real at the side of the road, and always offer such an opportunity to students who take my roadside flat repair class at the shop.
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Old 07-27-15, 07:57 AM
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I did a little searching online and saw a couple of models that will accept the smaller 12 oz. cylinders as well as the 16 oz. cylinders. I think I might go with one of those. I have a good bit of the 12 oz. that aren't being used by the kids anymore for their BB guns. I'm also going to check out what you guys suggested above. Thanks.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:04 AM
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I'm not a fan of CO2 inflators. They are what seems silly to me. Give me a pump any day, they are more reliable and don't generate waste.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist View Post
Keep in mind that once you inflate a tire with CO2 it will seep out even quicker than air pumped in will, so you should view CO2 inflation only as a temporary measure to get you home, then evacuate whatever is left and pump up with air instead, it will last much longer than CO2.
Wait, air is 70% nitrogen. Are you saying that CO2 molecules are smaller than nitrogen atoms and therefore leak out faster? That sound HIGHLY dubious to me. In fact it sounds completely implausible. If that's not the reason I'd love to hear the mechanism behind CO2 being leakier than nitrogen.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:11 AM
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What happens when you get two flats? I love my topeak road morph pump.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:13 AM
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I am a recreational cyclist. That means that although I do run errands and such on my bike.... I am retired and have no need to "commute" to anywhere. Being retired... I am able to chose my destinations and select the roads I ride.

The C02 inflators fit my needs very well. I don't ride a lot downtown or on high traffic roads. So I don't have to deal with many flats from automobile tire metal belt cords/wire (those little wires you find in your tires). I believe (at least in my area) they are the major cause of flats.

But on the rare occasion that I do have a flat... the spare tube and inflator (mixed with careful inspection of the tire) has proven to be an effective light-weight tiny package. It is all I need.

But then again... if stuck I can always just call for a ride back home. I'll never be late getting to work. I don't have much of a need to pump in a few ponds of pressure and move along. I think for a "work bike".... I'd want a nice frame pump. Even though I'd still carry the super-fast-easy C02 inflator as well.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:21 AM
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Well the plan is to commute to work. I will be leaving about 4:30 in the morning to get to work for 5am. There's a little wiggle room but not much. So I will need a quick fix for a flat. To answer the question "What happens when you get two flats?" My plan is to carry two tubes and enough CO2 to fill them both.
I didn't intend this to be an air pump vs CO2 inflator thread. I was just looking for thoughts on how easy the CO2 inflator is or isn't and any recommendations on particular brands.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
I'll never be late getting to work.
I hope to be with one day. It would be nice to never be late for anything.
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Old 07-27-15, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Wait, air is 70% nitrogen. Are you saying that CO2 molecules are smaller than nitrogen atoms and therefore leak out faster? That sound HIGHLY dubious to me. In fact it sounds completely implausible. If that's not the reason I'd love to hear the mechanism behind CO2 being leakier than nitrogen.
The nitrogen in the air is N2, not single N atoms. And it has to do with more than the raw size of the individual atoms. Nitrogen has a larger effective size than you might expect because the electron cloud is relatively diffuse. I'm having a hard time finding good comparative information on size between nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide, (it doesn't help that they are differently shaped) but you can rest assured that CO2 does diffuse out a tire more rapidly than air. It's not that big a deal, though, and there's really no need to do anything other than top off the tire when it gets low, as normal. I don't carry CO2 cartridges myself. They seem kind of wasteful to use for routine flat repairs.
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Old 07-27-15, 09:05 AM
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For some reason, I carry both CO2 and a pump. I had gotten in the habit of using CO2 cartridges a while ago because they can fill a tire so quickly. However, I got several flats during my commute one day, ran out of CO2 cartridges and had to walk 3.5 miles in my cycling shoes. I have carried a pump ever since then, but continue to also use CO2 for its convenience.

CO2 will leak out of tires much faster than regular air. It get you home or to the end of your ride just fine, but your tire will be spongy the next morning.

BTW, if you buy a CO2 inflator that doesn't require threaded cartridges, you can save a lot of money. That's because you can buy un-threaded cartridges in boxes of 12-24 at bigbox or hardware stores for much less money than threaded ones.

If you decide to get a pump, the Topeak Road-Morph with the gauge works great, as well as their frame-fit pump.
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Old 07-27-15, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post

CO2 will leak out of tires much faster than regular air. It get you home or to the end of your ride just fine, but your tire will be spongy the next morning.
That's all I'm looking for. A quick fix to get me going and finish my ride, either to work or home. Once I get to either location, I can deal with the situation more thoroughly. We can play the "what if" game all day long.
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Old 07-27-15, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by NOLABIKER View Post
Well the plan is to commute to work. I will be leaving about 4:30 in the morning to get to work for 5am. There's a little wiggle room but not much. So I will need a quick fix for a flat. To answer the question "What happens when you get two flats?" My plan is to carry two tubes and enough CO2 to fill them both.
I didn't intend this to be an air pump vs CO2 inflator thread. I was just looking for thoughts on how easy the CO2 inflator is or isn't and any recommendations on particular brands.
Not really a pump vs CO2, but I would carry both. You don't want to run out of CO2, or learn that they lost their charge over time or mess up at the valve and waste 90% of a cartridge. I carry two charges and a pump after seeing a few too many people have bad charges, or waste 90% of them and be SOL.
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Old 07-27-15, 09:25 AM
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I've had a couple of inflators of the cartridge type, and they never quite managed to let in enough pressure. I have a small compact pump now, it's very efficient and pump up slim and wider tires quickly and with ease. I never felt I gained any particular benefit or ease with the cartrige type pump. I lean towards getting a good manual pump as the best alternative.
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Old 07-27-15, 09:55 AM
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$14.97 for one shot?!
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Old 07-27-15, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mtb_addict View Post
$14.97 for one shot?!
14.97 for the pump itself and one CO2 cartridge. Looks like most brands only come with one cartridge.
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Old 07-27-15, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
Wait, air is 70% nitrogen. Are you saying that CO2 molecules are smaller than nitrogen atoms and therefore leak out faster? That sound HIGHLY dubious to me. In fact it sounds completely implausible. If that's not the reason I'd love to hear the mechanism behind CO2 being leakier than nitrogen.
My understanding is that it has to do with the partial pressure gradient, in other words, there is such a much higher concentration of CO2 in the tire after you inflate it than in the ambient air that the CO2 tries to escape to equilibrate that imbalance.

When you pump up with air, you create a gradient due to the higher pressure, but it's not as extreme as the gradient between pressurized 100% CO2 and the partial pressure of ambient CO2 in the atmosphere.

I carry a pump and CO2 as well, the best technique I've encountered is to actually blow the tube up with your mouth first, then CO2, then top it off to rideable pressure with the pump, because even two CO2 cartridges won't get a 700x32 tire, for example, fully inflated, and for a bigger tire you might need three or more.

For a flat in daylight and I'm in no hurry, I would patch and pump and not even use the CO2.

The CO2 cartridge alone I would use if I got a flat in the dark and in the rain or if I were in a real hurry, then I would just use CO2 to get it rideable, not worry about topping it off, and get home or to the destination or to shelter ASAP.

Nighttime, or sketchy area with many miles to go and no close shelter/alternative is when I would inflate by mouth, then CO2, then pump as above.
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