The CO2 inflator was originally a favourite among mountain bike racers.
So, if you’re thinking about ditching the pump, we’ve tested six of the best CO2 inflators to help you decide which to go for.
Best CO2 inflators 2023, as rated by our expert testers
Lezyne Control Drive
- £28 / $32 / AU$40 as tested
If it’s rapid inflation you’re after, the Lezyne Control Drive is easily the best CO2 inflator.
The Control Drive’s extremely high flow rate will have you back on the trail in no time.
It gives you the best chance here to reseat a tubeless tyre on the rim too.
You can control the rate of gas release with a simple knob.
The secure push-on inflator works with both Presta and Schrader valves.
It’s expensive, big and heavy, which makes it more awkward to store on a bike or in a pocket – although we’re talking a matter of grams here.
Specialized SWAT Mini
- £10 / $12
The SWAT Mini CO2 inflator is small and light, yet packs a big punch.
It fits securely onto Presta valves then the gas is released via a simple unthread-the-canister process, with a good flow rate.
A plastic spacer is supplied, which allows you to attach a canister to the inflator for convenient storage without piercing its seal.
We found it harder to screw canisters into the Specialized inflator than any other here – it has a tight fit – and it only works with Presta valves.
The price is for the inflator head only – cartridges and sleeves cost extra.
Birzman Roar Control
- £20 as tested
The Birzman Roar Control CO2 inflator is another screw-on design, which attaches tightly and securely onto the valve.
To control the flow of gas, you simply unscrew or tighten the cartridge. It dispenses the CO2 at a decent rate.
It’s not as intuitive to use as a push-on or tap-equipped inflator.
Although small, it has one of the longest chucks on test, which can make it a slightly more awkward shape to carry in your pocket or stash on your bike.
But it’s compact and lightweight, and its simple design means there’s less to go wrong.
The price includes three 16g cartridges and a protective sleeve.
- £5 / $7 / AU$10 as tested
On top of the wallet-friendly price, the Lifeline CNC C02 inflator is one of the most secure inflator heads on test.
Its screw-on design keeps it firmly in place on the valve.
You can control the flow of air by twisting the tap open or closed. It provides a decent flow rate.
Because it has to be screwed on, the CNC is a little fiddlier to attach than the best CO2 inflators, especially with cold hands.
No canisters or protective sleeves are included, making it less good value than it appears at first.
Topeak Micro AirBooster
- £23 / AU$45 as tested
The Topeak Micro AirBooster’s straight, in-line design makes it one of the more compact CO2 inflators.
You control the flow of gas by depressing the inflator head, but the action is lighter.
Being a straight, push-on design, it was a little tricky to fit the Micro AirBooster between the wheel spokes with the canister in place.
It also took longer to empty the cartridge than the best CO2 inflators.
It fits both Presta and Schrader valves, features a secure, no-leak fit and comes with both a sleeve and a 25g canister.
Genuine Innovations AirChuck Elite
- £25 / $30
With its large, easy-to-fit head, the Genuine Innovations AirChuck Elite CO2 inflator connects securely to both Presta and Schrader valves.
Two canisters (one 20g, one 16g) are included.
Genuine Innovations’ Push-to-inflate technology means you don’t have to fiddle around with the cartridge once it’s installed.
The spring that you have to compress to initiate the flow of gas is firm and it takes quite a bit of strength to hold it down.
Airflow isn’t the fastest either, and there’s no insulating sleeve.