The Birzman Infinite Apogee Road with CO2 is a lovely looking piece of kit, all mirror-polished aluminium, but the limitations of the Snap-It Apogee head, which is not as versatile or effective as you might hope and expect, take the shine off.
Although it's compatible with both Presta and Schrader valves via a CNC'd collar that you lift and twist, it appears to work better on threaded Presta valve stems than threadless ones. It has no problems with Schrader valves, which are all threaded.
The pump has a CNC'd aluminium body that's robust and solid. The sturdy piston rod, anodised green and laser etched with the legend 'Conquer all constraints, be boundless' is equally confidence-inspiring.
A heavy-duty steel braided hose is concealed inside the handle and held in there by a rubber stopper. The hose screws in at the other end – the layout is that of a traditional pump.
However, the Birzman has a trick up its sleeve, or rather at the end of its hose, as it can also be attached to a CO2 canister – this model comes with two of these in their own special bracket – for speedier inflation.
At 25.5cm the pump is slightly too long for a rear pocket, but it comes with a bracket that mounts to your bike's bottle cage bosses. The pump sits one side and the two CO2 canisters the other.
I tested the Infinite Apogee Road on five different valve types and found that it only worked consistently satisfactorily on two. These two were the threaded Presta valve and the Schrader valve (Schrader valves are always threaded).
The Snap-It Apogee head has a collar that you pull backwards for Presta to release the pin that would depress the spring in a Schrader valve. Once it's over the valve stem, you push the collar back down and “with a short twist” according to Birzman's instructions, it seals around the valve.
However, I found the head tended to blow off one threadless Presta valve stem at between 80 and 90psi – but strangely not another. This is not a problem in itself, because that pressure is absolutely fine for getting home on a 25mm tyre, but Birzman claims 160psi and an instant, secure engagement with no blow-offs at high pressures.
The same thing happened with a Vittoria valve extender, the type where you need to remove the valve core. To be fair, as far as the pump is concerned, this is the same as a threadless valve stem.
However, there were certain threadless valves that it coped with perfectly. It stayed put on a Continental Podium tubular valve, for example. I can only think that because there's no standard for valve construction or dimensions, there are certain ones that the Snap-It head is not compatible with.
The Birzman would not work at all with the type of valve extender that screws over the top of a Presta valve. The head's Schrader pin in this case blocked the opening to the extender.
It did work as advertised with a threaded Presta valve stem and in this case it was my arms that gave up before the head blew off – at around 100psi (which was relatively quick to reach since this pump has quite a decent volume). The head was never going to blow off because the o-ring and twist/clamp system were able to get more of a purchase on the threads than on the threadless valve – but I unfortunately prefer the threadless type on my inner tubes simply because it doesn't chew up the rubber o-rings of pumps. And who actually uses the knurled nut that the threads on a threaded inner tube valve carry?
In its defence, Birzman could well be looking to the future, to a world where everyone will ride tubeless tyres – which use threaded valves because here the knurled nut is essential as it works as a locknut to seal the rim. But that world hasn't arrived for everyone yet and until then I need a pump that works on all threadless valves too.
On a Schrader valve it worked fine, screwing tightly onto the threads with no air loss while pumping.
And finally, the CO2 canister test. I knew it would work fine with the threaded Presta valve so I tried it on the threadless one – and surprisingly it held without blowing off, up to the canister's maximum pressure, about 90psi in a 25mm tyre. I then tried to top it up manually – and the head blew off.
The Birzman is quite a bit cheaper than the Crankbrothers Klic HP+ Gauge but it doesn't have the gauge. It's also cheaper than the Zefal EZ Max FC CO2, which has gone up to £38.99 since we reviewed it, but the Bontrager Air Rush at £24.99 undercuts it and is pocket sized.
The Birzman Infinite Apogee works well with Presta valves that have threaded stems and with Schrader valves, but I prefer threadless Presta valves mainly because they don't wear out the rubber o-rings of pump heads – and the Snap-It head blows off that type at 80-90psi. That's fine for getting you home, but Birzman claims it can go up to 160psi.
With deep-section wheels I prefer the type of valve extender that goes over the top of the valve to the type where you need to remove the valve core – and the Birzman Snap-It head does not work at all with those. However, Birzman may well be looking towards the road tubeless market, where all valve stems are threaded. So I'm giving it a score of 'above average' because it's nicely made and works well, but not so well on all the valve types that I use, and I'm sure that for the time being at least I'm not alone in using threadless inner tube valves and valve extenders.
Good looking, well-made pump but the gleaming aluminium body outshines the performance of the patented Snap-It head
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman Infinite Apogee Road with CO2
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?
Birzman says this of the pump: Features a retractable steel mesh hose which connects either to the pump itself or to a CO2 cartridge.
And of its patented Snap-It Apogee head:
Simplicity – one simple shift of the collar to alternate between Presta and Schrader
Security – an instant, secure engagement means no blow-offs at high pressures
Peace of mind – no pull-outs or damage to the valve core
Precision and versatility – air lock ensures no air loss and enables use on front fork suspension
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Head: Snap-It Apogee (Presta/Schrader)
Barrel: CNC machined aluminium
Size: 25.5 x Ø2.5cm
Includes: 2 x 16g cartridges & 1 neoprene grip
Capacity: 160 psi / 11 bar
Very nicely made and attractive polished aluminium body/handle concealing a polished, anodised green piston rod. The braided steel hose is robust and the CNC'd head is also beautifully made.
The Snap-It head works perfectly on threaded-stem Presta valves and Schrader valves, staying locked in place with your arms the limiting factor, but it blows off some threadless Presta inner tube valve stems at a pressure of around 80-90psi – but not others – and is not compatible with the type of valve extender that screws over the Presta valve's upper threads. Having said that, the hose stayed locked onto a threadless valve stem when used with a CO2 canister up to 80psi... but then blew off when I reattached it to the pump to top it up. I tried pumping it (ie without using CO2) with a total of five valves: threadless Presta valve stem, threaded Presta valve stem, Vittoria valve extender (removable core type), Mavic valve extender (type that screws over the valve with no core removal necessary) and Schrader.
Very durable in terms of its structure but I have managed to put a couple of unsightly gouges into the polished body with my wedding ring while pumping furiously.
It's not a minipump and it's not built to be superlight – there are lighter and smaller pumps if that's your priority.
The Birzman is reasonably big and easy to grip. The rubber end that holds the hose when it's not in use supplies some extra grip for the palm of the hand when pumping.
It's cheaper than some rivals, and the materials and quality of its construction help justify the money, but its functionality has to be taken into account too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs flawlessly on Presta valves with threaded stems and Schrader valves (which are all threaded anyway). Birzman's own video shows the Snap-It Apogee head attaching to a threaded valve stem, but it doesn't say anywhere that it doesn't work so well on threadless stems, where the head doesn't grip as well on certain threadless valves and can blow off.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It looks great and is well made.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It didn't work for me on certain threadless inner tube valve stems and valve extenders. There are simpler push-on heads that work fine with all Presta valves and extenders.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Birzman is quite a bit cheaper than the Crankbrothers Klic HP+ Gauge, but it doesn't have the gauge. It's also cheaper than the Zefal EZ Max FC CO2 which has gone up to £38.99 since we reviewed it, but the Bontrager Air Rush at £24.99 undercuts it and is pocket sized.
Did you enjoy using the product? On the valves with which it is compatible, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Birzman Infinite Apogee works well with Presta valves that have threaded stems and Schrader valves, but I prefer threadless Presta valves mainly because they don't chew up the rubber o-rings of pump heads – and I found that the Snap-It Apogee head can blow off that type at 80-90psi. That's fine for getting you home, except Birzman claims it can go up to 160psi with no blow-offs. With deep-section wheels I prefer the type of valve extender that goes over the top of the valve to the type where you need to faff with removing the valve core – and the Snap-It Apogee head doesn't work at all with those. So I'm giving it 'above average' because it's nicely made and works well, but not on all the valve types you might use. If you only use the valve types it works with, consider it very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic
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: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem
Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.
As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.
He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).