Owning an air compressor is a luxury that is often the difference between a successful tubeless tire install or a stressful ‘why is this so hard?’ trip to the local store. While air compressors and car valve (Schrader) inflators are easily sourced at your local hardware giant, inflating a Presta valve isn’t always so easy (or quick) – time to welcome the Prestaflator.
We hear you asking it. What does this inflator do that a cheap hardware store bought car inflator plus a brass Presta-to-Schrader valve adaptor can’t? No doubt both will inflate the tire, but it’s a matter of convenience and you wouldn’t expect to thread on an adaptor every time you use your floor pump, so why should a compressor be any different?
For the casual user, the above reason probably won’t justify the expense. However, with its aluminum, chrome and stainless steel construction, the Prestaflator is made to withstand daily workshop abuse, and regular users in these environments will appreciate and benefit from the convenience of PrestaCycle's purpose-built Prestaflator.
The Prestaflator certainly looks the same as the inflators available at hardware stores for a fraction of the price – but having used both for the past six months, we can assure you that it’s not. Ignoring the obvious valve head difference, the Prestaflator features far more metal and has a heavier feel to it. It’s also completely serviceable, and spares are readily available through PrestaCycle.
The Prestaflator includes a handful of various compressor attachments to fit just about all common hose configurations
Durability is one thing, but PrestaCycle is also adamant that many cheaper inflators just aren’t safe for the higher pressures of road bikes, which is why the brand uses a gauge that goes to 170psi, and a flexible hose rated to 300psi.
The Prestaflator recently received a new '1way/2way' Presta head – something that’s beautifully simple, although not without its flaws.
The head simply threads onto the cap threads of a Presta valve for a secure fit. The 1way/2way name comes from the internal sliding action that enables you to take pressure readings and/or release air pressure from the tire without disconnecting the tool or the airline, by simply pushing up on the head. When you inflate the tire via the trigger action, the head will atomically push out to its ‘1 way’ position, allowing air to flow through. This design means that when you disconnect the tool from the valve, there’s no pressure loss.
The head features two different threads. The smaller you turn onto the cap threads of a Presta valve; the larger outer threads are for use with add-on accessories
While this head works brilliantly, it’s usage will prove limited for many. The thread-on nature of the head makes it susceptible to unwinding removable valve cores once inflated. Additionally, if you want to seat a tubeless tire without the valve core in place, the head won’t have anything to thread to.
This glaring issue aside, the PrestaFlator is made to be as universal as possible and can be equipped with a variety of thread-on attachments for Presta, Schrader or even a pointed blower tip.
The Schrader valve adapter is a good example of the quality add-on options
The thread-on EZ-Grip Presta accessory (US$9.95) gives the inflator a simple push-on, pull-off use. It doesn’t always create the perfect seal, but does get us to the desired pressure and works perfectly for tubeless setup and removable valve-cores. PrestaCycle actually say that this accessory is mandatory if you're a tubeless user.
Inflating a Schrader valve requires a thread-on accessory which again works extremely well, but costs another US$9.95.
These accessories make the Prestaflator a very effective tool for the workshop, but one that comes at a significant outlay. In a professional environment, this cost is marginal and would quickly pay for itself in the time saved – but for home mechanics, it may limit the the Prestaflator's appeal.