A puncture in a long distance time trial or triathlon can be the difference between a placing or a long walk home. You don't have a whole lot of storage in a pair of Speedos or a skinsuit, so the Topeak Airbooster Race Pod X makes a lot of sense, especially considering how well it suits an aero seatpost – a very niche marketplace.
Intitial thoughts were that the Pod X is rather expensive for what are off-the-shelf parts. Closer inspection shows that it's only going to cost you 2p less if you buy everything individually, and that doesn't get you the seatpost bracket, which you do want because it's actually really good.
The Topeak mount is designed to work with both aero and round seatposts thanks to its flexibility, with its Velcro strap keeping things tight and secure. You aren't going to feel this thing moving around.
The strap feeds through and back over itself to tighten, which means it's quick and easy to get into position and, just as importantly, to remove, use and reattach. There is enough length in the strap to wrap it around an inner tube too.
So, what do you get in the kit? Two 16g threaded CO2 canisters (one of which will get a 700x23 tyre up to around 115psi), two tyre levers and an inflator head.
That aluminium alloy inflator head is CNC machined, which gives it an excellent feel and finish, with rounded edges and clean threads. It's shaped like a T-piece with the valve connector at the bottom and two threaded ends above. One is just threaded for storage of the CO2 cartridge, keeping everything together, the other side behind the dust cap is the end that you use to inflate. It has a pin inside to break the seal of the cartridge and as you push the head against the valve it dispenses.
For attachment to Presta valves all you do is push it against the valve, while with the Schrader alternative you need to screw the head on.
It's a really quick and easy operation. You can add a little bit of gas, release hand pressure on the head to make sure the tyre is seated, and then push again to fully inflate. The only thing to keep in mind is that the cartridge gets very cold – cold enough to stick to your skin if you aren't wearing gloves.
The tyre levers are strong and I've had no issue with any breakages even on some tight tyre/wheel combinations. The pronounced clip on the back fits snuggly around both aero and round spokes to aid tyre removal.
Overall, the Airbooster Race Pod X is a neat piece of kit, ideal for any rider but especially those who tend to race. It's quick and simple to use, which is exactly what you want when time is of the essence.
Great idea for long distance time trials or triathlons like the Ironman, where things like pockets are at a premium
road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak Airbooster Race Pod X
Size tested: 12x6.3x5.5cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Topeak says, "The AirBooster Race Pod X is a compact and completely self-contained tyre inflation kit featuring an AirBooster CO2 inflator, two tire levers, two 16g CO2 cartridges, mounting module with strap. The unique mounting module straps to the aero or round tube, and provides lightning fast access to the AirBooster inflator, extra CO2 cartridge and tire levers. The perfect CO2 tire repair solution for racing, endurance or triathlon events."
It fits perfectly on aero seatposts, making it ideal for fast road bikes and those used in time trials and triathlon.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Head: Presta / Schrader w/ integrated dust cap, CNC aluminum
Tyre Levers: Engineering grade plastic
Contents: 2 threaded 16g CO2 cartridges, Mount Module for aero or round tube.
Size (L x W x H) 10 x 6 x 12.3 cm / 3.9' x 2.4' x 4.8'
The CNC machined inflation head is a lovely piece of kit. The tyre levers are pretty robust too.
Inflation head works great, tyre levers are impressive and the bracket stays in position. Really impressed with how it works with an aero seatpost.
I've used the tyre levers on really tight tyre/wheel combinations and they haven't snapped or even scratched. Again, the inflation head really impresses here.
Lightweight alloy used for the head and everything else is on par with the competition.
Buying the components independently would set you back £29.97, minus the bracket. A CNC machined head is always going to be more expensive than a cast item, but worth it for the quality of the threads etc.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Ideal for race situations. Quick to grab and use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The aero seatpost mount.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You could buy cheaper variants without the bracket.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? For racing, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
There are cheaper options out there in terms of CO2 inflation but for the likes of time trialling or triathlon, where pockets in clothing are somewhat limited, the Topeak makes sense. It's quality kit too and justifies the price with its machined inflator head.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.