Remember Air Supply, that soft pop music group from the 80s?  This is not them.  We are talking about getting air into your bike tires and then, just as important, knowing how much you have in there.  As tires have been getting poofier and rims wider, air pressures have been plummeting and now I commonly run 21PSI in a typical trail bike MTB 29er tire on a wide rim.  And Plus bikes are in the 13-15 PSI range.  Fat bikes are at 5-6 PSI and while the difference of 1 PSI on a typical 29er from days gone by is not even noticeable, on a true Fat bike 1PSI is a big deal.  A little product came into my hands a couple of years ago that actually just sat in a box for quite some time as it seemed a bit of an excessive…like I really needed to know a absolute number when I had a tire pump that gave me a gauge. That was close enough. But now, in this new low-PSI world we are riding in, after using it a lot I realize I could not function effectively without it.

The Airchecker is SKS, the German fender and air pump giants, best selling item in the air supply line.  A simple, handheld digital gauge, the SKS Airchecker allows you to check both presta and schraeder valves, bleed off pressure with a small button on the gauge head, and tells you the pressure very accurately in either PSI or Bar.

Just hit the ‘on’ button, wait for the display to come up, then press the Airchecker onto whatever valve you are working with.  A slight ‘beep’ lets you know it has measured the pressure.  So while I was able to be content in the old days, when we ran 30-35 PSI in our tires, by going with whatever the pump gauge said (or by our calibrated thumbs), now I can fine tune a Plus size tire by 1PSI and that is awesome.  For MSRP $24.99, it is too cool for school and it comes in a little storage bag.

SKS AircheckerSKS Airchecker

Last spring I ended up with a nice looking floor pump in the guise of the Airmenius, what ever that means…likely the German god of wind or something.  But the cork handle is pretty swanky, the wing-foil shaped barrel means it is aero, and we all know how important that is (you would not inflate your aero carbon wheels with ROUND air, would you??), and the general look of it is pretty sexy.  It feels pretty solidly built too.  At first I was cussin’ it as the air chuck was very difficult to work with, needing a lot of thumb effort to close and especially open the valve latch.  It was bad enough to make me concerned about snapping off a valve stem, especially some of the aluminum tubeless ones.  And while you can unscrew the knurled knob and lessen the clamping pressure over the valve, I had to take it almost to the point of parts rattling around and falling off before it got better.  I was bummed because it was a nice looking pump and had one KILLER feature…the gauge.  Or more importantly the gauge face which at 100mms is HUGE compared to most pumps and tops out at 180PSI/12+Bar.  But while I did not need anything close to 180PSI, I loved the spread of the gauge numbers that allowed me to see with a nice degree of accuracy the air pressure I was hitting.

SKS Airmenius

So, I just set it aside and every so often would use it again as it did a great job on road and gravel bike tires, it being a bit of a low volume/high pressure item to use for fatter MTB tires, especially Plus and Fat bikes.  Then something happened.  I don’t know what, but the pump head/clamp freed up and began to work really well and now it is smooth and easy to use.  Dunno.  So it is now my go-to pump for most things except stuff like seating tubeless tires on a MTB, etc, where you really want something with a bigger barrel for more air movement per stroke.

SKS Airmenius SKS Airmenius SKS Airmenius

I love the gauge, the handle is comfy, and although the base looks wide and steady, it actually is a bit tippy and falls over easily if you are casual with where you set it.  Most of the time it lives in the back of my wife’s car where she keeps it for all her bikes, mostly her road bike.  That fact, although you would not immediately realize it, is a real product endorsement because if it was in any way fiddly or difficult or inefficient to use, that woman would toss it in the garage and that would be that.  She does not suffer fool’s tools.  MSRP $124.99.

29er pumpNow as an option for those folks looking for more volume per pump stroke, look at the SKS TWENTYNINER floor pump which has a larger diameter barrel.  The gauge, while being only 80mms in diameter, tops out at only 87PSI/6bar, so while the gauge face is smaller around, the number range is lessened so it should be quite easy to see well enough to get you into the neighborhood you are shooting for.  The Airchecker will do the rest, dialing you in to the bullseye.





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Note: SKS provided these products at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.