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Fix a Flat, and Fast: C02 Inflator Test

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Biking through the city, late for an appointment, I hit a crack in the pavement and — BAM! — a flat tire and the sinking feeling that “I’m going to be late.” But wait, in my pack, next to a spare innertube and a bike tool is my little magic tire inflator, the Air Kiss product from Planet Bike.

Flip my bike over on the sidewalk. Pull off the tire. Replace the tube. Plug the Air Kiss unit onto my new valve, and brace for a fast rush of air — I am back rolling in two minutes after my flat, no pump needed to get back on the road.

Planet Bike Air Kiss

C02 inflators are nothing new. But for years I diligently carried a small hand pump and labored away on the side of the road after a flat in attempt to regain adequate pressure before pedaling away.

No longer. A C02 inflator like the Air Kiss is now mandatory equipment in my bike pack when I need a fast change. I tote a small tire pump as a backup. But when I flat and am heading somewhere with a time crunch my first move is often toward the Air Kiss unit and a silver cylinder of pressurized air.

C02 cartridges from Planet Bike

The Air Kiss works simply: Screw on a C02 cartridge; attach the unit to your tire valve; pull the lever up to lock it on; finally, push the C02 cartridge forward to initiate a burst of air. Now, watch the tire instantly regain its inflated shape, ready to ride again.

This method inflates a completely flat road-bike tire to about 90psi in one second. Obtaining the same tire pressure with a small hand pump can take a few minutes and a lot of work.

Instructions from Air Kiss package (note the “don’t be tempted with your tongue” aside!)

As a bonus, the Air Kiss — as well as units like it from manufacturers including Serfas, Zefal, Topeak, and Lezyne — is a lightweight and inexpensive product. It costs just $12.99 on Planetbike.com and it weighs less than 1 ounce. New C02 cartridges can be found for as little as $2 each.

For me, the C02 method has replaced hand pumping permanently when I need to change a tire fast. I’ve cranked on a hand pump long enough. From now on I mostly will be relying on C02 and its instant “kiss” of quick delivered air.

—Stephen Regenold is editor of GearJunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.

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