The SKS Airchecker is a well-made digital gauge for tyre pressures that's quick to use – once you know how.
- Pros: Good quality from a reputable German company
- Cons: Requires a bit of practice to use it properly
SKS is well known for its mudguards. The Airchecker is a solid digital pressure gauge that comes with the same rugged build quality and carries a five-year warranty.
Operation is mostly self-evident: press the On/BAR/PSI button to wake the gadget up and toggle between scales. The Mode button allows you to change from the default 'snapshot' pressure reading to a real-time gauge that you'll need when you want to let some air out. That's achieved by pressing the little orange 'deflate' button on the valve head.
The valve head rotates and you turn it so your chosen adapter is facing upwards, then push up onto the tyre valve. I had problems at first getting a tight seal, especially on Presta valves, so a lot of air came hissing out. I asked the UK distributor for SKS, ZyroFisher, about this and clearly, other people must have had similar issues as I was sent a helpful little video that demonstrated the correct technique. Basically, you need to put your thumb on top of the tyre and push up firmly on the Airchecker until the valve pops securely into the device.
The reading is done quickly – usually a second or so before the Airchecker beeps. The display is backlit and easy to read. After this, you can hold the 'On' button for 3 seconds to turn off the device or wait 30 seconds for it to turn itself off. I couldn't see anything in the instructions about any way to zero it, though you can do this by switching to "realtime" mode and back again.
Checking it against two analogue gauges in my possession, the readings were consistently lower than one and sometimes higher, other times lower than the other. Like owning three watches, you never know which one is telling the right time, though SKS assures us that this new incarnation is "more accurate than ever".
The SKS Airchecker sits neatly in the hand and has rubbery strips down each side to stop it slipping in use. The construction is of rugged plastic and the clear screen material seems to resist scratching, so that even as I've pressed this into use in my little bike repair workshop over the past few weeks it's still looking pristine. Battery change is easy, using a small screwdriver to prise the cover off. So far, I haven't had to change it.
It's a tidy little tool that's quicker and easier to use than a pump gauge if you just want to make a quick assessment of your tyre pressures, or your everyday pump doesn't have a gauge. It comes in a smart cardboard box and would make a good present.
The redesigned Airchecker is comfortable in the hand, quick and easy to use and rugged
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road.cc test report
Make and model: SKS Airchecker
Size tested: One
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 says, "The fully redesigned Airchecker digital air pressure gauge features an all-new sensor for supremely precise digital pressure measurement, especially at lower pressures, within an improved ergonomic design.
"The Airchecker's composite sides provide great grip and comfort in use, while the backlit display with XL digits can be read in all positions thanks to the swivelling Duo head.
"Compatible with all Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves, the display can be switched from bar to PSI at the push of a button. Incremental pressure deflation is easy thanks to the pressure release button, and the AirChecker also includes real-time measuring, so there is no need to remove and reset the gauge to give a new reading."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weighs 55g (SKS say 56!)
Measures 0-10 BAR (144psi)
Battery type: CR2032 (supplied)
Solid without being overly heavy.
The function buttons are pretty straightforward but I had problems getting a tight seal around the Presta valves. ZyroFisher put me right on how to do this but it's not obvious at first use.
Looks good after a few weeks' use. No scratches on the digital screen. There's a five-year warranty which suggests SKS has confidence in its product and it won't end up in landfill after a year.
Small and light enough to stick in a pocket.
Fits well in the palm and has rubberised grips along each edge. The display is large enough to read easily and is lit.
Priced similarly to the Topeak D2 Smarthead (rrp £29.99). Cheaper options are available from the likes of Revolution, BBB and LifeLine. If it outlives its five-year warranty, should give a good return on your investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This worked well when used correctly. The read-out is clear, the functions are pretty straightforward to understand and it gives a quick reading. It's well made and feels good in the hand.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good display, quick reading, well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
You need to know the right way to use it to avoid air leaks around the valve.
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
Once I'd been shown how to get a tight seal around the valve, I found this a useful gadget. It's comfortable to use, quick and easy to get a reading, you can switch easily between "snapshot" and "realtime" pressure readings, and SKS guarantees its accuracy and quality. The auto-off function should reserve battery life. Overall: very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking