Different from regular mini pumps or bike pumps, a CO2 inflator fills a tire within a few seconds. Exchangeable CO2 cartridges offer the necessary pressure. This method saves a lot of time. Amateurs as well as professionals in bike racing and mountain biking make use of it.
Technology and function
Each air pump is designed for a special purpose. Upright pumps for everyday usage in the workshop, mini pumps for emergencies that occur on tour. CO2 systems find application when the clock is ticking. The systems and extra cartridges by Airace, Contec or Crankbrothers are lightweight, fast and reliable. The rider bolts a cartridge into the CO2 adapter and by pulling the trigger, he can immediately inflate tires or tubeless systems within seconds. The systems on offer are normally compatible with Dunlop and Sclaverand but also Schrader valves and valves on cars. The cartridges are available in different sizes for tires with different capacities.
Cartridge inflators are an efficient method to fill tubeless systems for the first time, as particularly high pressure is necessary in this process. The air rushes through the valve into the tire and presses the edges against the rims where they seal the tubeless system together with the sealing fluid and the rim tape.
CO2 inflators are small and handy helpers that fulfill their purpose quickly at minimal weight. No doubt they are helpful in workshops and bike races. However, you need to be careful with MTB tires, which have very high capacities and small cartridges. In some cases that capacity of a single cartridge is insufficient to fill a tire completely. In this case additional pumping is necessary.