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Being the “bicycle guy” in my neighborhood means that nearly every kid (and a few adults) brings their bike to me for a quick adjustment or fix. Thankfully, the most common issue is a low or flat tire. Once I’ve shown someone how to read the recommended pressure off the sidewall, I hand them the pump, and let them go at it. My floor pump (which is right outside the front door) has a gauge with a marker that you can set on the bezel, so even if you can’t read the numbers while standing up, you can see when the dial on the gauge lines up with the arrow on the bezel.
Makes it easy to get the correct pressure every time, right? Maybe. I hadn’t given too much thought to the gauge accuracy until SKS offered to provide their Airchecker for review. At only 45 grams, this handy little digital gauge has a bright backlit LCD display with large numbers, and reads in PSI or BAR. The head accepts presta valves on one side, schrader on the other, and swivels 180 degrees to facilitate easier readings. Although it reads to either 140 or 160 PSI, (I didn’t have a way to verify the max) one of the more important features for MTB riders that favor really fat tires is the ability get an accurate reading below 10 PSI, which is something most floor pumps don’t do so well. We were able to read down to 4.5, which is probably lower than you’d ever need.
Using the Airchecker is pretty straightforward. Give the head a twist if necessary, to get the correct angle. Press the button to turn it on. When it’s ready, it beeps once. Stick it on your valve, and a short beep confirms that it has taken a reading. A quick tap cycles between PSI and BAR. Hold the button down for three seconds, and it will power off, or it shuts down automatically after 15 seconds of idle time. Not much to it.
Testing was simple enough, and allowed me to verify that my two floor pumps were calibrated correctly. With the help of a few volunteers, we inflated some road, MTB, and 20″ BMX tires to various pressures, and checked the gauge on the floor pumps against the Airchecker. From a low of 30 to a high of 110, the floor pumps were within about 2 PSI of each other. Repeated readings with the Airchecker were consistent, although a bit more difficult with presta valves.
In summary, the Airchecker is a pretty handy tool. The shape fits nicely in your hand, and the plastic finish has just enough “tooth” to prevent it from being slippery. Included with each one is a soft case for travel, and the drawstring provides a convenient loop for hanging in the shop. The power button is recessed to avoid accidentally turning it on, which is a nice touch too. There’s a deflate button on the head, which is of limited use on a digital gauge, as it doesn’t read in real time. Once you let some air out, you’ll need to take another reading. Otherwise, it’s hard to find fault with this product.
Want to win one?
If you own a car or motorcycle, then the Airchecker could possibly let you recoup its modest purchase price of $25 or less fairly quickly. While incorrect tire pressure on a bicycle results in reduced performance, it causes accelerated tire wear and decreased fuel economy in motor vehicles, which can get expensive quickly. So a correctly used tire gauge can pay for itself in no time. But we’ll do one better. SKS was gracious enough to provide an extra Airchecker to give away to one lucky reader. The catch is that this contest is only open to members of the Twospoke.com cycling forums. All you need to do is post the words “I want one” in this road or MTB thread, and we’ll choose a winner at random on Wednesday, March 28th. If you’re a cyclist and you haven’t been to Twospoke, now would be a great time.
**Update** Congrats to John C (Jahwarrior on Twospoke.com) from Fort Bragg, NC. He’s the winner of this giveaway!