Australian Mountain Bike


- Mike Blewitt

While the benefits of a pneumatic tyre are many, the downsides always remain: punctures and the need to inflate them. With brands like Michelin stepping up the tyre casing game in the war on punctures, there are endless opportunit­ies around to make getting air into your tyres easier. From hand pumps, to track pumps, foot pumps, CO2 cartridges, big booster track pumps and of course – a compressor.

A compressor is a little bit of luxury in a home workshop or shed. My lovely wife bought me one a few years ago as a birthday present, adding to the list of excellent gift ideas she has had, including a chainsaw, some nice DeWalt cordless tools, wood working tools, a Macbook and an Aeropress. But the downside with a compressor is that all that compressed air isn’t really that useful if you can’t use it how you want to.

While the compressor came with a basic air gun, suitable for drying a bike after a clean, blasting dust away and cleaning up toast crumbs from your workbench or laptop, the stock inflator and tyre gauge was Schraeder, and best used on the wheelbarro­w, car and ride on mower.

Enter Efficient Velo, who make specialty tools including inflators for bike workshops around the world. I’ve worked in about 8 different bike workshops, plus my own, and run of the mill inflators tend to have a very short lifespan in a busy workshop. They get thrown around, kicked out of the way, wrenched off valves and are frequently covered in sealant or degreaser in their day to day use. And that’s not even listing the sorts of shenanigan­s that a high pressure compressor can get used for in a workshop!

Efficient Velo are based in Oregon in the

US, the home of functional­ly cool gear, and their product range is no exception. They have a few other inflators with gauges, and for dual valve use, but if you’re primarily dealing with Presta valves, then this is the one you want. The lever is US made, and the washer inside the head is replaceabl­e. It’s also made from a very low durometer urethane which seals well and is said to last longer than others.

In use, I really like the fast flow from the head, there is no tyre that I haven’t had pop right into the bead when setting up tubeless. There are no leaks, meaning I can have my compressor charged but turned off, ready to do about a week’s worth of tyre top ups. The action from the lever is easy, and everything falls to hand for fast operation. The inflator works in the background of prepping or building bikes, making it easy to forget that I only bought it a few months ago. But the reality is I didn’t use my compressor nearly as much without it.

Whether or not you see the value in a $145 inflator is up to you. The thing is, I still use some of the high-quality tools I bought over 20 years ago, and their service life isn’t close to coming to an end. They might have cost me a little more than some generic options could have, but I’m not sure I would have had two decades of use, and counting. I expect that the Efficient Velo Presta Inflator will be another tool in that category. These are available direct in Australia from Lead Out Sports – they have a bunch of other items including the very fancy Abbey Bike Tools. If you’re looking to get a few tools to keep for a very long time, the Lead Out Sports website is worth a browse.

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