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The Genuine Innovations Ultraflate CO2 inflator is a super-useful bit of kit, but that comes at the expense of size and weight.
At this time of year, anyone who has had to change a tube in the cold/wet/rain/snow/all of these will know what a pain in the backside it is. Just getting the tyre off, new tube in and getting the tyre back on takes up enough time, without trying to inflate to 100psi or so with a mini-pump and now-frozen hands. Genuine Innovations' Ultraflate makes the job a whole lot easier.
The unit, made of tough glass nylon and featuring brass metal parts that won't rust, comes in two parts, a canister holder to, erm, hold the gas canister, and a head unit that the canister holder screws onto. The head unit features a trigger and lock switch to control and secure the flow.
It's a simple process: for non-threaded 20g canisters, insert the canister into the holder and screw the holder onto the head; as it tightens, the head punctures the top of the canister and creates a seal. You can either partly tighten the holder and only tighten all the way when needed, or tighten it fully then engage the lock switch, which will stop the trigger from moving, keeping it ready to go. There is a question over whether the gas will leak over time, but it didn't seem to with a week or so in between applications.
For threaded 16 or 20g canisters, you screw the canister directly onto the head, again puncturing and creating a seal, before screwing the holder to the head to protect your hands.
Both canister types work well, so it doesn't matter which you pick up as spares.
It works with both Schrader and Presta valves, although I only tested it on Presta. Group rides were an ideal testing ground, as with a good number of riders there was bound to be need every ride or so, and it didn't take too long to put it to good use. Once the hard work was done, it was simply a case of popping the Ultraflate onto the valve, flicking the lock switch off and triggering a bit of gas into the tube, checking everything was seated properly, then using bigger blasts to fully inflate.
The trigger means you can ease the delivery rather than dump a big load of gas as with some simpler heads, which can cause a popped tube with the sudden pressure. The holder keeps your hands safe from the sudden thermal change in the canister, which literally freezes as the gas is discharged, and the plastic sections of the head and trigger keep your fingers away too.
Once done, if you think there is some gas left – which is a bit of a lottery – you can lock the trigger and use it again next time. You should definitely carry an extra canister or two, though.
One 16g canister will easily inflate a 23-25mm road tyre, but for larger volume tyres such as 30mm or more you may need to top up with another canister. At worst, you can finish off with a mini-pump if you have one available.
At £19.99 with a 20g canister thrown in, it's not overly expensive, with canisters readily available and pretty cheap when bought in larger quantities. The Birzman Roar Control 16g is also £19.99 but more fiddly, and there's the possibility of touching the frozen metal parts, while a super-cheap option is the £7.99 B'Twin CO2 Inflator, but it has less control and although there is a sleeve for the canister, the metal head is exposed.
The Ultraflate is a good option: it's easy to control, and though it's a little heavy it's worth it for the speedy inflation.
Really useful and user-friendly inflator which, though bulky, is well worth taking along for the ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Genuine Innovations Ultraflate CO2 Inflator
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
An easy to use and controllable CO2 inflator that takes threaded or non-threaded 16g and 20g canisters.
Genuine Innovations says, "Comfortable, durable and most of all reliable. The Ultraflate is Genuine Innovations' most tried and trusted cupped inflator. An inflator that's comfortable to hold and built to last, its reinforced glass nylon construction and brass internals means it can take the strain of everyday use and still maintain precision inflation performance. Compatible with 20g threaded, 20g non threaded, 16g threaded cartridges. Supplied with 1 x 20g non threaded cartridge."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Glass nylon construction with brass internals
Trigger Controlled technology for fast, easy and controlled CO2 inflation
Built in Trigger Lock prevents accidental discharge
Heavy duty design and construction
Works with both Presta and Schrader valves
Lifetime Warranty on inflator
It's sturdy and seems well put together, and has stood up to some roadside abuse with no ill effect.
It does what it's supposed to well, and is easy to load, whether using the threaded or non-threaded canisters.
Glass nylon is used for the main body and part of the head, with brass connector and internals meaning it should last a long time. It also has a lifetime warranty.
As an all-in-one unit it is convenient, but not light when loaded with a canister against a simple inflation head, and quite a bit heavier than other options.
No freezing of hands on the canister.
At £19.99 retail it's not a huge investment and when compared to simpler head-only inflators it stands up well – and it comes with a 20g canister too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On cold, wet, miserable days it was a godsend, saving time and effort getting the tyre inflated quickly. The trigger also helps to ensure the tyre and tube are seated properly before giving a good blast.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The convenience and usability, not freezing my hands by being an enclosed unit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It is a little bulky (and heavy) in a jersey pocket, but the benefits are there. Although you can 're-use' partly drained canisters it's hit and miss as to how much is left.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's good: a useful and easy to use roadside tool that saves time and effort, if a little bulky.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman AirPro Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives