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The Zefal EZ Max FC CO2 Inflator is a decent pump that gets air into the tyre quickly, although I have to question the choice of a metal barrel when using it for CO2.
Unfortunately one of the biggest pains of the winter, aside from the cold and the rain, is the increase in the number of punctures. To reinflate your tyres at this you have two basic pump types: CO2 dispensers or hand pumps. There are merits and drawbacks to both, CO2 is instantaneous inflation, but you can run out of CO2 canisters, hand pumps can't run out but take time to inflate.
Zefal have attempted to get the best of both worlds with the Zefal EZ Max FC CO2 Inflator which incorporates both a CO2 and hand pump in one unit.
First place to start is with hand inflation, which is pretty good. It is only a small pump so it take about five minutes and some struggle once you get above around 80psi, but the motion is good and smooth and there is enough room on the mini pump to get a good grip. This sounds like a silly comment, but some of the smaller pumps are a real pain in the hand when you are trying to get into the higher pressures.
This ease of inflation is helped by the flexible hose that extends from one end of the pump and allows you to hold the pump in a number of positions. That both saves the valve and makes for ease of use. The barrel at the end of the hose can be used as either Schrader or Presta and is simple enough to switch by just twisting it off and putting it on the other way around. All of this is held under a stiff cap that stays in place well during riding. It also stays together nicely thanks to the magnetic locking system. It also means that it doesn't rattle when going over bumpy roads.
At the other end of the pump is a similar looking flap, although this is twisted off. This is where a CO2 cartridge fits. You simply screw it in and wait for the tyre to instantly inflate through the same hose. This is easy enough to do and the actual inflation part was both quick and easy.
However, there is one drawback in that Zefal have used aluminium for the barrel. As the compressed CO2 in a cartridge expands it gets cold, and so does everything in contact with it. It is sometimes difficult to unscrew the valve when it's white with cold. However, I managed it relatively easily wearing a pair of gloves.
It would also be better to have some kind of activation mechanism rather than instant inflation. I sometimes found that the canister would begin to discharge (and therefore freeze) before it was fully screwed in, so inflation would be slower and the pump/barrel would get frozen.
The EZ Max FC comes with a mount that sits either underneath or in place of a bottle cage. This works nicely on the few rides I tried it, it doesn't tend to get in the way of pedal strokes and sits relatively nicely on the down tube or seat tube.
The RRP is 36.99, which is expensive for a mini pump. It does have some nice features that go some way to justifying this price though, such as the smooth pumping motion and use of a CO2 canister.
Overall, the Zefal EZ Max FC CO2 Inflator is a well made and innovative pump that works really nicely as a hand pump alone and being able to use CO2 cartridges as well is a big plus. However, the CO2 element could do with a little rethink given the metal barrel and lack of control of inflation beyond screwing it in.
CO2 element could be improved, but this is a really strong hand pump by itself
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal EZ Max FC CO2 Inflator
Size tested: Length: 190mm / 7.5
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?
A hand pump that combines a CO2 inflator.
Zefal say 'The EZ Max FC is the combination of two functionalities in one pump, which can make easier the choice between CO2 inflator and mini-pump.'
This is a pretty straightforward description and one that I agree with.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Screw-on intuitive connection, compatible with
Presta and Schrader valves.
Magnetic closure, quicker and easier.
ALL IN ALUMINIUM
Durability, lightweight and high resistance to corrosion.
2 IN 1
CO2 inflator and mini-pump. Easy and
Protection against cold made by the cartridge
and for a better comfort.
Prevents dirt and stays clean.
Allows inflation from farther away and
prevents damage to the valve stem.
Really well made with a nice motion and some good touches like the magnetic locking element.
Really impressive when used as a hand pump, although an engagement system would be good for the CO2 element.
Well made, good material choice and caps to keep mud out.
Fairly expensive, but it is a well made pump that is likely to last for several years.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Works very well as a hand pump, CO2 inflators gets the tyres inflated quickly, but the barrel material and lack of engagement are a slight issue.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The construction is really strong and has an excellent motion.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The lack of an engagement feature on the CO2 canister isn't ideal
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
Although they haven't quite got the CO2 element perfect, it works well enough and as a hand pump it is well made and robust.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.