Looking at almost all professional workshops or racing machinery, you may see or at least hear the air compressor in use. The job of an air compressor is very simple-compressed air for pressurized release-it is achieved by pressing the air into a confined space (tank) by one (or more) motors.
When working on a bicycle, air compressors are most commonly used for two key tasks. First, and perhaps the most beneficial, they are the perfect tool for drying clothes after washing, or blowing grit out of narrow gaps (such as derailleurs and brakes, but be careful). I hate no one to complete this task.
Secondly, they are an easy boon for tire inflation, that is, setting up a cumbersome tubeless combination may require sudden and sometimes large amounts of air (using a pump or filling a tubeless tank can be tiring!)
Most importantly, air compressors are not as expensive as you think. In the first part of this two-part function, I will introduce the basics of setting up an air compressor. The second part focuses on the inflation tools needed to inject compressed air into bicycle tires.
Air is air, in this sense, low-cost air compressors may be very suitable for casual home users. Given that air compressors are considered tools for DIY projects, there are countless effective low-cost options. However, there are some key elements that need to be understood and considered.
Most importantly, to obtain sudden air injection capability, a tank (aka receiver) is required to pressurize. For this, the compressor must have a tank. There are many reasonably priced “electric inflators” or “compressor inflators” on the market (see more at the bottom of the article) that lack this key feature. Beware.
When it comes to fuel tanks, generally the more you spend, the larger the compressor and connected fuel tank will become. Generally speaking, larger compressors and tanks provide comparable filling pressures to smaller options (so the initial air explosion is the same), but the increased capacity means more air is available before the pressure drops. In addition, the motor does not need to fill the fuel tank frequently.
This can be a crucial thing if you run a power tool or spray gun, and it is convenient if you blow water from the entire bike (or bike). However, the large fuel tank capacity is not important for tire filling, tubeless tire seats, or just drying the chain.
At a minimum, a 12-liter (3 gallon) compressor should be sufficient for tire seating and filling needs. Those who want to dry their bikes should consider the more common low-cost 24 liter (6 gallon) size. Heavier users, or those who wish to run other pneumatic tools, may again benefit from something that is at least twice this capacity. If you are keen to run pneumatic tools, such as paint sprayers, nail guns, grinders, or impact wrenches, you should look at the required CFM (cubic feet per minute) and match it with a suitable compressor.
Almost all consumer compressors are powered by a standard household 110/240 V outlet power supply. Some newer (and more expensive) models can be powered by the same lithium-ion batteries as large-brand power tools-if you need something portable, this is a good choice.
Smaller 12-liter compressors start at around US$60/A$90, while larger compressors don’t cost much. There are many generic brands on the Internet with surprisingly low prices, but my recommendation is to at least buy compressors from hardware, car or tool stores. If a warranty is required, they will provide a stress-free experience-after all, electrical appliances. This article is for international readers, so I won’t provide specific store links that recommend compressors (but hey, at least you know this is not affiliate links to make money).
Few people have endless workshop space, so size is always a factor. Obviously, the larger the oil tank, the larger the footprint of the compressor. Those with tight space should look at “pancake” compressors (usually 24 liters/6 gallons, for example), they usually reduce the footprint through a vertical-based design.
It is important to note that many air compressors, especially the cheapest oil-free compressors, are filled with noisy bugs. In confined spaces, noise can be much higher than unhealthy levels, so it is worth considering whether the ears you have and the ears of your cohabitants and neighbors can tolerate this noise.
Spending more does not only mean more capacity; it can also afford a quieter compressor. Brands such as Chicago (sold in Australia), Senco, Makita, California (sold in the United States), and Fortress (a brand of Harbour Freight sold in the United States) offer “silent” models that are significantly quieter and more pleasant. After owning a few low-cost noise machines, I bought myself a Chicago Silenced a few years ago, and my hearing has thanked me to this day.
You can talk about these silent compressors while they are running. In my opinion, they are worth the extra cost, but I also tend to spend more on tools than most people are satisfied with.
It is also worth noting that compressor designs vary widely, and there are a variety of oil and oil-free compressors on the market. For cleaning purposes, oil-free compressors are even better and can blow out air without oil particles. If you are using an industrial style oil-filled compressor, you may need to add oil and water filters.
Okay, you already have a compressor, and you may need some other items. You can buy the “air compressor accessory kit”, but based on my experience, you will leave a bunch of unwanted garbage.
Instead, I recommend that you buy a high-quality hose that suits your needs, a blow gun for cleaning and drying purposes, and a method to inflate your tires (for more information, see Dedicated Inflator Features). You may also need a way to connect all these components: quick connect couplers are the best choice here.
The first is the air hose. You need a device that is long enough, at least from the air compressor to the furthest point where you will work on the bike. The most common type of hose is the low-cost spiral hose, which works like an accordion, giving you extra length while remaining compact when not in use. Assuming you have walls or ceilings to install, the better option (although much more expensive) is the automatic air hose reel, which works in exactly the same way as the automatic retractable garden hose reel-they are neat, and Provide sufficient reach.
Generally, air hoses are equipped with joints at both ends, usually including a quick release joint, to facilitate the replacement of pneumatic tools. You may need to purchase a “male” adapter (a.k.a. plug or accessory) that can be threaded into your pneumatic tool and match the quick release connector provided. There are several different standards for coupler accessories, and it is important not to mix and match them. These accessories usually vary from region to region, and you will find that the accessories common in the United States are different from those common in Europe.
The three most common types of accessories are Ryco (a.k.a. car), Nitto (a.a. Japan), and Milton (a.k.a. industrial, as well as most bicycle-related tools).
Most consumer-available tools and compressors use 1/4″ size threads as accessories, but you must be careful to check whether you need BSP (British Standard) or NPT (American Standard). Tools from American companies may require NPT accessories, And tools from other parts of the world usually require BSP. This can be confusing, and it is difficult to find the opposite in some areas. Although this is not ideal, from (incidental) experience, I find that it can usually be A leak-free fit is achieved by mixing NPT and BSP.
Using an air compressor to help clean and dry requires a way to concentrate a stream of air, and a low-cost tool called an air blow gun is needed here. The cheapest spray gun works well, while the more expensive version can better provide more airflow control and higher pressure blowing from the delicate tip shape. The cheap option should cost you about $10, while even the expensive option should cost you less than $30. This is just a quick safety warning. If used improperly, these tools can be dangerous. Therefore, safety regulations usually require the use of low outlet pressures. I can assure you that most bicycle shops and racing technicians use this tool without a low-voltage limiter, but it is recommended to wear safety glasses.
Finally, there are tools needed to inflate bicycle tires: tire inflation tools. Of course, I tested almost all popular options, so there is a dedicated gunfight article.
Once you have a compressor, be sure to follow the manual settings-there are subtle differences between many popular compressors.
Most compressors allow some form of adjustment of the filling pressure to control when the motor stops adding air to the tank. For bicycle use, I have found that using a line pressure of approximately 90-100 psi (pressure from the compressor) is a good compromise between easy tubeless inflation and not overuse of tools.
Compressed air will cause water to accumulate at the bottom of the water tank, so semi-regular venting is important, especially considering that most air compressors use steel water tanks, which will rust if ignored. Therefore, it is a good idea to place the compressor in a relatively easily accessible place.
Almost all brands warn against leaving a full compressor, and the water tank should be emptied between uses. Although you should always follow the brand’s recommendations, I would say that most seminars will keep their seminars alive. If your compressor is unlikely to be used frequently, empty it.
As the last important safety point, it is always recommended to wear safety glasses when using an air compressor. During the cleaning process, debris will be sprayed in all directions, and unexpected things may happen when handling tires.
As mentioned above, there are many products on the market with similar names and uses as traditional air compressors. Below is a brief guide on what these are and why you should and may not consider them.
These small devices were designed as electric alternatives to hand pumps, and were first popular among mountain bike and cross-country mechanics, and then quickly became popular thereafter.
More and more industrial tool brands, such as Milwaukee, Bosch, Ryobi, Dewalt, etc., provide such pumps. Then there are general options, such as Xiaomi Mijia Pump. The smallest example is the Fumpa pump for bicycles (a product I personally use almost every day).
Many of them provide an accurate method that requires very little manual operation and portable packaging to achieve the required tire pressure. However, all of these do not have fuel tanks, so they are almost useless for setting up tubeless tires or drying components.
These are very similar to the electric inflators above, but usually rely on an external power source to power them. In most cases, they will turn off the 12 V power supply and act as emergency pumps that can be plugged into the car.
As above, these are almost always unfilled tanks, so they are meaningless when the compressor is usually the most convenient.
Tubeless cylinders are air chambers dedicated to bicycles, which are manually pressurized by floor (track) pumps-think of them as an air compressor, and you are the motor. The tubeless water tank can be purchased as a separate accessory or as an integrated component of the tubeless floor pump.
These fuel tanks are usually filled to 120-160 psi before allowing you to release the contained air to install stubborn tubeless tires. They are usually effective tools for this task, and I know some people choose to use them to install tubeless tires instead of turning on noisy compressors.
They are portable, do not require electricity, and produce no noise-if you don’t have a dedicated workshop space, all of this makes them an ideal choice. However, filling them can be tiring, and if the bead is not in place immediately, it can quickly become tedious. In addition, due to the limited air volume, they are hardly used to dry components.
Blowers are most commonly used for cleaning electronic components or grooming pets. Metrovac is an example of this. Many of them look like paint sprayers, but blow out an amazing amount of warm air. If you just want a tool to help dry the parts you just cleaned, these are a good choice. They are generally quieter than air compressors and have far fewer safety warnings. Depending on your patience, leaf blowers, hair dryers, and similar tools can also be used in these situations. Obviously, none of these blower devices are suitable for tire inflation purposes.
If you are keen to set up an air compressor for your riding needs, be sure to check out the features of the best tire inflators we provide for air compressors.
Post time: Aug-23-2021