The BTwin Mini air compressor is exactly what it says on the tin - a compact motorised air pump that will get your tyres up to pressure with no effort from you.
For your fifty quid you get a unit shaped like the grip of a ray gun that houses the compressor and a nickel-metal hydride battery; a mains adapter; a car adapter; and a hose with a built-in gauge. A Schrader valve head with a locking lever connects to your inner tube and you get an adapter for presta valves.
It's dead easy to use. Charge it up, attach it to the valve and flick the switch. When it reaches your desired pressure, turn it off. Job done.
It's quite noisy. Not enough to have us reaching for ear protection, but enough that I avoided using it in confined spaces.
I did a simple A versus B test with my trusty SKS Rennkompressor track pump. The track pump took 30 seconds to get a 23mm tyre to 7 bar (105psi), pumping at a fairly leisurely pace. The BTwin compressor took a minute and five seconds, so a little over twice as long.
BTwin say it will reach 150psi, and that claim's reasonable if you have the patience. It's certainly easier to get to these high pressures with the BTwin compressor than with some track pumps.
I then wanted to know how many tyres I could expect to inflate from one charge, so I repeatedly inflated my 23mm tyre to 7 bar. The Mini compressor was getting noticeably warm after six repeats. On the seventh it got to about 5 bar before running out of gas.
It took a bit under six hours to recharge, as claimed in the instructions and indicated by the red LED on the switch-mode charger turning green. That charger, incidentally, has a two-pin French plug, so you'll need an adapter; Decathlon should really sell the compressor with a multi-plug charger.
Oddly, if you leave the compressor on charge overnight, the LED turns red again. No biggie, if it's had six hours it'll be charged. Peculiar, though.
You can't run the compressor off the charger, but you can use it from the car adapter, so if you need to inflate a number of tyres in the field, that's the way to go. However, Decathlon recommends you only use it for 10 minutes at a time, then let it rest for 15 minutes, so you're not going to get a whole pro team back on the road with this.
It's all very straightforward to use, to the point where my 11-year-old workshop assistant mastered it with very minimal tuition. I hope that means her tyres will get inflated a bit more often now.
Lighter riders, especially diminutive women, often struggle with track pumps because they don't have the weight to get up to high pressures. The BTwin compressor will be great for them, as well as for those of us who are just too lazy to use the trackpump.
But I couldn't help wishing for a few tweaks that would hake it from 'good' to 'great'. For starters, the hose is a bit short. Another six inches would be handy, just to make it easier to get to your valve, and to orient the gauge for easy reading.
Having a separate adapter for presta valves is a recipe for problems; it's bound to get lost sooner or later. It'd be far better to have a self-adapting chuck like Topeak's SmartHead.
Then of course you start thinking about what functions the deluxe version should have. An electronic gauge rather than a dial so you can get super-accurate pressures. A preset function so that electronic gauge can turn off the pump when your desired pressure is reached. A bubble attachment for kids' parties. Okay, not that last one. Maybe not.
You're no doubt asking why would you bother with something that's noisier and takes longer to use than a similarly-priced track pump. That's a fair question. If you're happy with a track pump, stick with it, but if you or a member of your family struggles with a track pump for whatever reason, the BTwin Mini air compressor is a nifty gadget that's well worth a look.
Good alternative to a track pump, if a bit noisy.
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Make and model: BTwin Mini air compressor
Size tested: 150psi/10bar
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?
Decathlon says it's for: "recreational or regular cyclists who want to pump their tyres using an electric compressor. Effortless inflation."
Decathlon lists the benefits as:
Ease of use: Effortless inflation
Compatibility: Presta / Shrader for bike / motorbike / car tyres
Battery life: 10 to 15 minutes with continuous inflation
Nuff said really. If you can't be bothered pumping your tyres up by hand, or you find getting high pressures a struggle, this is for you.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
For your fifty quid you get the compressor unit itself; a mains charger; a car power supply adapter and a hose with a built in pressure gauge.
It's slow compared to a decent track pump, but it's also relentless, which means anyone can use it.
Decathlon offers a two-year guarantee, and the construction seems decent. It almost certainly won't stand being kicked around a workshop floor, but that's why pro workshops buy SKS Rennkompressors. For home use it should be fine.
It's pretty loud.
£50 will get you a pretty good track pump, but you'll still have to do the work yourself.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it - it inflates tyres.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Getting tyres up to pressure without effort; being easy enough to use that an 11-year-old could master it with minimal tuition.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The noise. The slightly-too-short hose.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 46 Height: 5ft 11in Weight: 85kg
I usually ride: Scapin Style My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding,
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.