Anyone use CO2 for inflation? Recommendations?

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15 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Hi All,

My mini-pump (Topeak Master Blaster DX) is one of the better ones out there, I believe, but I'm tired of working my butt off for barely more than half pressure. I'm considering CO2 inflators due to their small size (for carrying in jersey pockets) and high-psi capabilities.

Any fellow NYCCers with experience (good or bad) using CO2 cartridges/inflators? I'd love some recommendations from club members. Any pos/neg experience (pros/cons) is greatly appreciated.

Big thanks,

Anonymous's picture
john segal (not verified)
zefal hpx

don't mess around.
get one, or find a riding partner who has one (like christian).

of course, if you have one of those silly new compact frames or CF bikes, you're out of luck.

Anonymous's picture
Joe Soda (not verified)
pumps on CF bikes

I have a CF bike (some would say THE CF bike) and I have no trouble fitting a Wrench Force frame pump beneath my top tube.

Anonymous's picture
Nigel (not verified)

"I'm out of luck, John. Poor me; I have one of ""those silly new compact frames."" Really, now.... I specifically said I wanted something pocket-sized because I don't want a frame pump if I can avoid it. I asked about CO2, not about which frame pumps people prefer.

Thanks for your two senseless cents. Perhaps your paying more attention to the thread's wording would help all involved next time."

Anonymous's picture
john segal (not verified)

nigel, it was all meant in jest. forgive me if you took offense.

and, just to set the record straight, i carry the most useless of all pumps, a silca with a plastic head. good for getting those tires up to a rock hard 40 psi. looks pretty, though.

plenty of folks use and rely on CO2 cartridges, even some whom i consider friends. but i feel more secure whenever i'm on a ride and i spot a rider with a zefal hpx....

your mileage may vary.

Anonymous's picture
Nigel (not verified)

Fair enough, John. Thanks for the apology. Couldn't tell it was meant in jest; problem with type vs. verbal inflections. Or things like this :) :( :D :P :/

Back in the day (before I had my silly new sloping frame), I used an HPX and it was a no-brainer--always super-reliable. I'll figure it all out yet.


Anonymous's picture
Michael Casey (not verified)
CO2 + & -

1. CO2 is great to get home on but your tire will be soft after several hours--something to remember in particular if you're traveling on a bike.

2. I would carry enough cartridges (or a big enough cartridge) to fill at least as many tires as you want to be able to fix on the fly, e.g., if you have two tubes and a patch kit, can you inflate at least four tires?.

3. If you have a new/unfamiliar CO2 system, test it before you really need it so you don't end up with a wasted cartridge and a still-flat tire on the road.

Anonymous's picture
rob b (not verified)

It's so easy to get bad info on message boards - especially from people who have never even used the product themselves; they've seen this or heard that. I have been using CO2 cartridges for the past 5 years.
1. No, the pressure doesn't 'leak out' or 'depressurize' during a ride. Will you have to top it up at home later? - of course.
2. Yes, you can get the tire up to a decent pressure. I use the smallest ones (12g), and in one shot the tire gets more than hard enough to ride the rest of the day.
3. I usually carry 3, just in case - really, how many times in the last 5 years have you had 3 flats in one day? I can only remember one time I ran out of CO2, and simply asked for help. To me, that's worth it. In my opinion, the cartridges are just fine.

And to the poster who complained about the Silca pump - I don't know which Silca you're talking about, but I used those frame-fit pumps for years, and although light and plastic, they are reliable and I got great pressure with mine.

Cheers, Rob

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
been using co2 for many years myself...

"...they don't seem to soften for me either. gotta admit the 16g cartridges don't get a 700x23 tire much past 90psi - but it's enough to get home. i picked up a tiny co2 adapter years ago at a-bicycle (before they changed their name) for a couple bucks. 16g cartridges are cheap (need threaded). it's a good combo for my needs.

pumps are fine, but they do go bad after a while and those little pumps are a silly. i've had folks with mini pumps beg me for a cartridge. :)


Anonymous's picture
Mark Gelles (not verified)
CO2 inflators

Have not carried a pumb in years. CO2 inflators work fine, would suggest buying one that has trigger. There are a few on the market that have mini pump & inflator in one small gismo. I use this type as it is nice to put a little air in your new tube w/the mini pump then get in on your rim. After checking for pinch flats use the co2 to inflate. Or as John mentions have Christian (or Ivy) do it......mark

Anonymous's picture
Tony Rentschler (not verified)

I was riding down River Road last year and as I passed a cyclist stopped by the side of the road, he called out and asked me if I had a pump. I did, so I stopped to help him.

Seems he'd gotten a flat, and had used one of his two CO2 bombes to fill the tire. Then he flatted again and had to use his second and last bombe to get rolling. He rode just a bit farther, when he flatted yet again! Bummer! So now he was stuck about halfway down River Road with a flat and a good tube, but no means to fill it.

I did have a pump, which I loaned him, but in his zeal to fill his tire, he tore the stem off his tube! Psssttt! Did I mention that it was cool and damp and drizzly?

Fortunately, I had two spare tubes with me that day so I gave him one and we pumped up his tire and sent him on his way - straight to the nearest bike shop, I hope.

He could have taken a tip from the Boy Scouts, who have a campground and science and technology center right there in Alpine - Be Prepared!

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)
My take

"I've used the kind of CO2 inflators with a little pump attached. I only carry 2 cartridges because I figure I can rely on the mini-pump in the worst case. But in the end, I changed back to mini-pump because twice I had 2 flats (one due to my botched the first repair). And with no spare cartridge, I started to get worry about a third flat... That ruin the ride, even though I never did actually get that dreaded 3rd flat!

That, and the example on River Rd posted earlier illustrate the key advantage and disadvantage. If you're don't ride alone at all, or you're very experience at fixing flats, plain CO2 inflator works great! Minimum weight/bulk. And in the worst case of multiple flats, your buddy can help you out.

If, on the other hand, you're not sure of your flat fixing ability, or ride alone on less traveled road, I'd stick to at least the kind with a mini-pump attached, because you can never carry enough cartridges to cover all the botched repairs and there's no one there to help you out if you run out.

Speaking of ""silly CF frames"", I once had a buddy who velcro his Topeak Road Morph to the SEAT STAY!!! I was suspicious of its security so I asked him how long he had it. He said he had it there for a couple year now. So appearently its pretty secure. I, on the other hand, found my Trek OCLV's seattube had no cable running down it. So I mount my Road Morph there. Being a short 50cm frame, it fits with no more than a millimeter extra room!"

Anonymous's picture
Michael (not verified)

Buy your cartridges at Wal-mart in the BB gun section. I have found the ideal number to be 3. Particularly on the well traveled roads in Bergen/Rockland where someone will come by after you've used your last cart. on a bad day. If you are travelling or doing long distance on poorly traveled roads take a pump... even if is one of those combo CO2/mini pumps.

Now if someone can explain why the tire goes flat again the next day (I did a good physics discussion in another thread... any chemists out there??)

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Partial pressure gradient of the individual gasses, I guess.

In the case of CO2, you've got CO2 at 8 atm on one side of a permeable membrane, and effectively no CO2 on the other side. And N2 at 1 atm outside the tube and no N2 on the inside. Since the diffusion of each gas is affected only by the partial pressure gradient across the membrane, the N2 will seep in and the CO2 will seep out.

Eventually, this will settle to approximately 1 atm N2 (well, air actually) both inside and outside the tube.

Two things:

1) I know atmospheric air isn't 100% N2, but it made the description easier.

2) I haven't taken chemistry since 9th grade, so this could be totally wrong, but I think I'm on the right track.

3) I have no real world experience to back this up, as I don't use a CO2 cartridge. I use a pump.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Gary Katz (not verified)
Don't you mean three things?

"""Two things:

1) I know atmospheric air isn't 100% N2, but it made the description easier.

2) I haven't taken chemistry since 9th grade, so this could be totally wrong, but I think I'm on the right track.

3) I have no real world experience to back this up, as I don't use a CO2 cartridge. I use a pump.""

I have used CO2 a few times, and it worked, but not as well as my Topeak road morph pump(which is hard to carry on my new Specialized Roubaix compact frame bike.)

The tire reached most of its desired pressure, but sure enough, went lower the next day.

Christian's explanation about pressure gradients makes sense to me. But does this mean we have to let all of the CO2 out when we get home and then replace it with air to get an even gradient?"

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

1) Apparently I haven't taken math since 9th grade either.
2) Yeah, that'd be the only way to stop it. Or invent a non-permeable bicycle tube. But re-filling with air seems easier.

- Christian

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