The SKS Airgun is a pump designed for riders who need to inflate their tyres in a hurry, and is particularly suited to race, time trial and triathlon riders who need to get moving again quickly.
The Airgun comes complete with one cartridge - it takes the 16g threaded type CO2 cartridges – a bottle cage mount for the pump, another that holds a spare cartridge, and an insulating sleeve.
The quoted weight of the pump is 105g including the cartridge, separate 16g cartridges weigh in at around 58g each.
The inflator comprises a cast aluminium head with an interchangeable valve assembly that allows it to be used with both Presta and Shrader valves. It is simply a case of unscrewing the valve nozzle and turning the internal seal to the appropriate direction for the type of valve you intend to attach to and replacing the nozzle.
The Airgun differs from the more basic inflators in that it also has a release valve on the top of the head, allowing precise release of the CO2 flow; this is a useful feature as it allows you to test the valve connection with a little blast of CO2 before committing to releasing the contents of the cartridge into the tyre.
The neoprene sleeve that slips over the cartridge body prevents the cartridge freezing to your hand when releasing the contents – a very real problem with CO2 inflators! The head also has a rubber pad inset where you place your thumb for the same purpose.
To use the inflator you simply screw the cartridge tightly into the head, making sure the release valve is shut first. This punctures the cartridge allowing the release of the CO2, then attach the pump to the tyre valve and turn the release knob to control the flow rate of the gas. Speed of inflation is impressive, as with all CO2 inflators, taking only a couple of seconds to fully inflate a flat tyre.
The quoted pressure achievable with a 16g cartridge is 108psi into a 700Cx23 road tyre, but my test suggested I was getting closer to 95psi when checked with my track pump.
The weight of the unit with a cartridge is around that of many conventional mini pumps, and increases as you add spare cartridges, so weight is not it’s main benefit. You are also going to be limited as to how many inflations you can achieve by how many cartridges you want to carry, but in a race situation you are likely to only want one shot, as more punctures than that is going to leave you a long way off the pace!
The SKS Airgun is a well-made pump with the benefit of controllability that makes tyre inflation less hit and miss than many of its rivals.
road.cc test report
Make and model: SKS Air Gun CO2 inflator
Size tested: n/a
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?
SKS describe it as an "extremely small CO2-pump for race and training". I feel the benefits are race oriented rather than for training though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
CO2 Inflator for use with 16g threaded cartridges.
Robust aluminium valve head with pressure control valve, insulation sleeve and dust cap, one cartridge and mounting
Build quality is good, the seals all worked well and the mounts were well designed and functional.
The pressure release valve enables consistent performance from the Airgun, ultimately the cartridge dictates the achievable pressure, and at 95psi it was sufficient to complete a ride.
Cast aluminium head with rugged plastic control knob and nozzle complete with dust cap gives confidence in the long-term durability of the Airgun.
At 105g for the pump head and 16g CO2 cartridge it is light enough, but any additional cartridges will add 58g each time. Many conventional micro pumps will weigh less that this.
The insulating sleeve and pad prevent it freezing to your hands when in use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Airgun was reliable and easy to use, providing a convenient and quick solution to inflating your tyres.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pressure control valve was a welcome addition, which gave confidence that you weren't about to waste a co2 cartridge.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? As much as any pump!
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 6' 1" Weight: 155 lbs
I usually ride: Litespeed Icon My best bike is: as above
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Track Cycling