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The Birzman E-Grip 16g CO2 Inflator is a compact and generally likeable design, which allows progressive and efficient post-puncture inflation. The threaded system is not only reliable, it's proven compatible with unbranded, generic cartridges. Aside from having readily available spares, this means you can plug in big cylinders for rapid resurrection of touring and gravel tyres.
For your £14.99 you get a nicely CNC machined, anodised aluminium alloy head with laser-etched detailing. The head is designed to accommodate both Presta and Schrader valves – useful if you have road and mountain bikes, and could come in handy for rescuing a riding companion, or if you're riding a road-biased build with a trailer/tagalong behind.
The head is a press-fit design, which some will argue is less secure than the threaded type, but it overcomes two major difficulties: the risk of unthreading a removable valve core, and the pain (literal and metaphorical) of having to touch and uncouple the inflator head.
As with most designs, it employs controlled release, so pressure is easily regulated. I've never blown a 700x25 or a lower pressure, big volume tyre using a 16g cartridge. Nonetheless, blowing a new tube to smithereens defeats the object somewhat – especially on a cold and rainy November night.
In some respects, the Birzman's performance is on a par with other systems, but the detailing means it's a notch or so nicer to use than some otherwise adequate budget models.
Using the stock cartridge, it raised a 700x26 tyre from flat to 110psi in three seconds. Switching to an unbranded 16g cartridge it took under five seconds to get a 700x32 to 70psi (10psi short of its maximum recommended pressure).
A bigger 25g cartridge breezed a 700x38 tube to 85psi in four seconds and a 26x2.0 tube to 46psi (14psi within its maximum), albeit at a more pedestrian nine seconds – but that's a whole heap faster than you'd ever get using a mini pump.
The Birzman's neoprene sleeve feels a little thin compared with some, but protects palms and fingers perfectly well, even after having to stretch it (in warm water) to fit 25g cartridges.
Canister size has more influence upon pressures achieved, but a head offering consistent, efficient delivery gets the best from them. The Birzman's design is pretty foolproof on the unintentional discharge front, too, provided you don't screw the cartridge fully home. In my experience, some budget inflators heave a less precise thread which can lead to accidental release; hence I keep the cartridges uncoupled until I need one.
One thing to bear in mind: while CO2 will rescue you by the road/trailside, it will quickly leach out from the tyre/tube, so it's a good idea to deflate and refill it using your track or hand pump when you get home. Otherwise you'll think you've another, slow puncture the following morning...
At £14.99, the Birzman is certainly at the lower end of the price point. Muc-Off's CO2 Inflator Kit is a screw-on design and includes a second canister but costs a tenner more – as does Lezyne's Control Drive CO2 Inflator.
Genuine Innovations' Ultraflate CO2 Inflator costs £19.99 but does come with a 20g canister and is quite innovative, albeit a bit heavier.
I'd never want to rely solely on a CO2 inflator and always carry a mini pump and Presta/Schrader adaptor (in case I need to use a garage airline). Nonetheless, for £14.99, the Birzman is a neatly executed and seemingly reliable inflator kit with decent features.
Nicely engineered inflator that's effective and pleasant to use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Birzman E-Grip 16g CO2 Inflator
Size tested: 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.4cm (valve head)
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: "Made of CNC machined aluminium for long-lasting and regular use, the E-Grip CO2 Set will work with Presta and Schrader valves for an efficient and effort-saving experience.'
It's pleasant and efficient to use, as it says in the blurb.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Material: CNC machined aluminium (valve head), Neoprene (grip).
Size: 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.4cm (valve head).
Weight: 15g (valve head).
Includes: 1 x 16g cartridges & 1 neoprene grip.
Solidly made, comfortable to use.
The head's release ensures controlled, consistent delivery of CO2.
Seems well made, with little sign of potential weak spots.
The neoprene sleeve prevents painful digits during discharge.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Using the stock cartridge, it raised a 700x26 from flat to 110psi in two seconds. Switching to unbranded 16g cartridge raised a 700x32 to 70psi (10 psi short of its maximum recommended pressure) within five.
Using 25g cartridges breezed a 700x38 to 85psi in four seconds and a 26x2.0 to 46psi (within 14psi of its maximum), albeit at a more pedestrian nine seconds.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Neatly finished, effective and reliable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing of particular note.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's at the lower end of the market: Muc-Off's CO2 Inflator Kit is £25, as is Lezyne's Control Drive CO2 Inflator, while Genuine Innovations' 20g Ultraflate CO2 Inflator costs £19.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Generally speaking, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's good: nicely engineered, reliable system and favourably priced.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)