The 5 Best CO2 Inflators & Cartridges to Save You from Walking [2021] 🥇

The Best CO2 Inflators

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After comparing dozens of CO2 inflators, reading reviews, owners’ experiences, and bike forums, I selected the best CO2 inflators & cartridges on the market.

The overall winner is the Pro Bike Tool CO2 inflator. You will find out why I think it is the best later in this article.

You will also learn how to use the CO2 inflator, what pressure you get using various CO2 cartridges, and what are the best CO2 cartridges for the money.

Let’s dive in!

Table Of Contents


What Are the Best CO2 Inflators?

ProductCompatibilityWeight 
Pro Bike Tool CO2 InflatorSchrader & Presta valves30gCheck Price
Lezyne Control Drive CO2 InflatorSchrader & Presta valves46gCheck Price
Genuine Innovations Air Chuck Elite CO2 InflatorSchrader & Presta valves17gCheck Price
BriskMore CO2 InflatorSchrader & Presta valves21gCheck Price
Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator with Storage CanisterSchrader & Presta valves58gCheck Price

The Best CO2 Inflators

The following part includes the best CO2 inflators and inflator heads with and without cartridges.

Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator (Best Overall)

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Main features

  • Available in 3 colors
  • Protective sleeve included
  • Lever for regulating CO2 flow
  • CO2 cartridge is not included

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 30g
  • Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
  • Made of aluminum
  • Compatible with threaded CO2 cartridges (12g, 16g, 20g, 25g)

This CO2 inflator by Pro Bike Tool has gained popularity mainly thanks to the high built quality. You can rely on this inflator in every situation.

Pro Bike Tool CO2 inflator will easily fit into your saddle bag. It’s very light, so you forget you have it.

You can regulate CO2 flow by using a lever that initially requires more force to turn. This allows you to prevent the tire from overinflating.

Another advantage is that the package contains a protective sleeve. It’s thin, so your fingers will freeze, but at least you won’t burn your skin. If you have space in a saddle bag, pack gloves as well.

You can choose from 3 colors (glossy black, matt black, and glossy silver/red). My favorite color is matt black. What’s yours?

When buying, don’t forget to order a CO2 cartridge as well (see below). These are not part of the package.


Lezyne Control Drive (Best CO2 Inflator For MTB)

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Main features

  • Available in 4 colors
  • Protective sleeve included
  • Knob for regulating CO2 flow
  • 16g CO2 cartridge included

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 46g
  • Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
  • Made of aluminum
  • Compatible with any CO2 cartridge

Compared to the Pro Bike Tool inflator, the Lezyne CO2 inflator uses a knob instead of a lever. So it depends on your preferences which solution you like more. The control knob is useful for preventing the tire from over-inflating.

Like the Pro Bike Tool inflator, this one is also not bulky. You can store it into your saddle bag with ease, and you will still have plenty of space left for a CO2 cartridge, spare tube, etc.

Thanks to the protective neoprene sleeve, you won’t burn your hands when inflating the inner tube. However, the sleeve is thin, so I recommend using gloves.

I recommend it for MTB riders due to its durability, however, even roadies can use it.

There are 4 colors – black, purple, red and silver. The package also includes a 16g CO2 cartridge.


Genuine Innovations Air Chuck Elite (The Lightest CO2 Inflator)

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Main features

  • Available in 1 color
  • Very lightweight
  • Push-to-inflate technology
  • 16g and 20g CO2 cartridges included
  • Easy to use (single-handed use)

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 17g
  • Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
  • Made of aluminum
  • Compatible with any CO2 cartridge

According to some owners, the Air Chuck is one of the lightest and easiest-to-use CO2 inflators on the market. This means you will be able to use it even in the dark when you can’t see almost anything.

Unlike the previous 2 CO2 inflators (Pro Bike Tool & Lezyne), this inflator has a different gas flow regulation. You can influence this by how hard you press the head on the valve. Thanks to this, your other hand will remain free, so you can firmly hold the wheel.

The advantage is that the package contains 16g and 20g CO2 cartridges. However, no protective sleeve is included. Therefore, do not forget to pack gloves with you for the ride.

The biggest disadvantage of Air Chuck is the built-quality, which does not reach such a high level as previous inflators.


BriskMore CO2 Inflator (Best For Tubeless)

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Main features

  • Available in 1 color
  • CO2 cartridge is not included
  • Protective sleeve included
  • Knob for regulating CO2 flow

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 21g
  • Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
  • Made of aluminum
  • Compatible with any CO2 cartridge

BriskMore CO2 inflator is very similar to the Lezyne CO2 inflator. They differ mainly in their design. The BriskMore is boxy compared to the more curvy Lezyne inflator design.

However, even this inflator will allow you to regulate the CO2 flow, thus preventing the tire from overinflating. On the other hand, with a quick turn of the control knob, you can reach the necessary burst to inflate your tubeless tires.

The main advantages include low weight and compactness. Of course, it is compatible with Presta and Schrader valves.

It’s a shame it’s only available in black color because I think it is a reliable CO2 inflator for a good price.


Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator with Storage Canister (Best For Road Bike)

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Main features

  • Available in 3 colors
  • CO2 cartridge is not included
  • Cartridge storage canister included
  • Lever for regulating CO2 flow

Technical specifications

  • Weight: 58g
  • Compatible with Presta and Schrader valves
  • Made of aluminum
  • Compatible with 12g and 16g CO2 cartridges

This CO2 inflator is almost identical to the Pro Bike Tool CO2 inflator I introduced above. The main difference is how the cartridge is stored.

With this inflator, you screw the CO2 cartridge into the head and the canister over it. It protects your hands, so you don’t need any protective sleeve or gloves when using this inflator.

However, this feature also brings a major disadvantage. This inflator is only compatible with 12g and 16g CO2 cartridges. This makes it ideal for road cyclists because these cartridges will inflate your tire to pressure that will allow you to continue riding.

Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator with Storage Canister is available in matt black, glossy black, and red/silver.


The Best CO2 Cartridges

The following part includes the best CO2 cartridges for your CO2 inflator.

CyclingDeal CO2 Cartridge Multipack

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Main features

  • Threaded CO2 cartridge
  • 6, 12, 20, or 30 pack of 16g CO2 cartridges available

Genuine Innovations 16g CO2 Cartridge

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Main features

  • Threaded CO2 cartridge
  • 6 of 16g CO2 cartridges available

Genuine Innovations 20g CO2 Cartridge

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Main features

  • Non-Threaded CO2 cartridge
  • 6 of 20g CO2 cartridges available

Lezyne 25g CO2 Cartridge

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Main features

  • Threaded CO2 cartridge
  • 5 of 25g CO2 cartridges available

My Verdict

The best CO2 inflator in this selection is the Pro Bike Tool CO2 Inflator. It is well built, so you will always be able to rely on it.

The package contains a protective sleeve so you won’t burn your skin when inflating a tire. The inflator also allows you to regulate CO2 flow using a lever. Thanks to that, you won’t over-inflate your tires.

You can store the Pro Bike Tool CO2 inflator in your saddle bag and use it when needed. It is compatible with Presta and Schrader valves and 12g, 16g, 20g, and 25g CO2 cartridges.

Choose from 3 colors (matt black, glossy black, red/silver) and save your precious time during your bike ride.


CO2 Inflator and CO2 Cartridge Explained

CO2 inflator is a cycling accessory that will make it easier for you to inflate your tires. It consists of 2 main parts – ‘head’ and ‘cartridge.’

The head of CO2 inflators differs in its complexity. Almost all heads are compatible with a Presta and Schrader valve. Some can regulate the amount of CO2 flowing into the tire using a control knob or lever.

CO2 cartridges differ mainly in their weight (typically 16g, 20g, and 25g), i.e., the amount of compressed CO2. Depending on the type of tire, different cartridge weights allow you to pressurize the tire to a specific pressure (check the CO2 inflation chart).

co2 inflator parts new
CO2 Inflator parts | Product picture credit: Lezyne

Why Should You Get a CO2 Inflator?

If you’ve ever pumped a road tire to 120 PSI with a mini pump, you’ve probably wondered if there’s an easier way. I remember my first time when I pumped my road tires with a mini pump. I was sweating more than during my workout!

CO2 inflators are the solution. They will inflate your tires within seconds. This makes them super convenient, so you save your precious time during your ride. And they will easily fit into your saddle bag (eventually handlebar bag).

CO2 Inflator vs Mini Bike Pump (Pros and Cons)

Let’s say you’re deciding whether to buy a CO2 inflator or a mini pump. Which of the options is better? Based on reading several forums and user experiences, I summarized the advantages and disadvantages of CO2 inflators and mini pumps in the table below.

 ProsCons
CO2 Inflator• Inflating a tire is faster and more convenient.
• Takes less space.
• More expensive in a long term.
• CO2 cartridge is for one-time use only and thus not very environmentally friendly.
• Cartridges get very cold when releasing CO2 so you can burn your skin.
Mini Bike Pump• A mini bike pump is reusable.
• Less expensive in a long term.
• Inflating a tire is slower and less convenient.
• Takes more space.

Pros and cons of CO2 inflator vs mini bike pump | Sources: GCN videoGenuineInnovations.com

Don’t you like a CO2 inflator? Get a mini bike pump instead. Choose from the selection of the Best Mini Bike Pumps.


How to Choose the Best CO2 Inflator & a Cartridge?

Before you buy your first CO2 inflator, I would like to guide you through its basic features. I believe the following explanation of its features will help you decide what inflator is the best for you.

Valve Compatibility

The vast majority of CO2 inflator heads are compatible with Presta and Schrader valves. According to bicycling.com, Schrader valves are more common. You can find them on cheaper bikes. However, more expensive bicycles, especially road and mountain bikes, use Presta valves.

schrader vs presta valve 1
Inner tube with Schrader vs Presta valve

There are also other valves on the market, such as the Dunlop valve (also called the Woods valve). If you have a bike with this type of valve, make sure you buy a CO2 inflator compatible with them.

You may also be interested in floor pumps. Check my selection of the best floor pumps for MTB, road, and hybrid bikes.

CO2 Inflator Head

The heads of CO2 inflators differ in several features. The first feature is the material from which they are made. Usually, 2 types of materials are used – aluminum and plastic. I would recommend investing more in an aluminum head, especially for its higher durability and reliability.

The second essential feature is the type of head. Some allow pressure control (by turning a knob, pressing or turning a lever, etc.). You will appreciate this feature because it allows you to regulate the flow of CO2 into the tire.

This can be especially useful when you need to inflate two tires from one cartridge or if you need to regulate the tire pressure.

The last essential feature of the inflator head is its size. The heads with control knobs or levers are naturally slightly larger than the heads without CO2 flow regulation. Try to find a balance of what will suit you better. Avoid buying bulky inflator heads because they are heavier and take up more space.

How Much Pressure Can You Inflate With A CO2 Cartridge?

Depending on the weight of the CO2 cartridge (typically 16g, 20g, and 25g), you will be able to inflate different types of tires at different pressures. The table below gives an overview of the pressures you can reach for different types of tires.

The heavier the cartridge, the more CO2 it contains and the higher pressure you can inflate into the tire.

CO2 inflation chart
CO2 inflation chart (Click to enlarge) | Data source: genuineinnovations.com

Based on the information in the inflation chart, you will find out that you need one 16g cartridge for a road tire to inflate it to 130 PSI. So, for road cyclists, a 16g cartridge is sufficient.

If you ride a bike with wide tires (e.g., mountain bike or a hybrid bike), I recommend buying 20g or 25g cartridges. These cartridges will allow you to inflate the tires with enough pressure to continue on your ride.

Threaded vs Non-Threaded CO2 Cartridges

These 2 types of CO2 cartridges are very similar. The only difference is in the threading. Threaded cartridges are easier to use for beginners because they can screw them into the inflator head. This makes them more ‘accident-proof’. Of course, threaded cartridges are slightly more expensive compared to non-threaded cartridges.

If you want to use the non-threaded CO2, you have to press or push them into the inflator head. They require ‘skill’ and also some experience. Otherwise, the CO2 will leak everywhere, and your tire will remain empty. On the other hand, non-threaded CO2 cartridges are cheaper.


How to Use a CO2 Inflator?

None of my friends have avoided a puncture of a tire yet. We all experienced a punctured tire already. It’s quite possible you haven’t experienced it yet. However, if you do, it is good to know how to use the CO2 inflator.

STEP #1: Replace the punctured inner tube with a new one. Unfortunately, with a CO2 inflator, you cannot semi-inflate it to make it easier to replace. So, inflate it a bit with your mouth. Once you are done with replacing the inner tube, you can continue to the next step.

STEP #2: Using a CO2 inflator is easy. You just have to use it right. Otherwise, you risk leaking the CO2, and you won’t be able to inflate your tire anymore. So, make sure you mount the head on the valve and hold it firmly. Then, screw the cartridge in. You will encounter a moment when the resistance increases. This is a moment when the pin in the head is pushing onto the seal of the cartridge and inflates the tire within seconds.

NOTE: The cartridge gets freezing cold when releasing the CO2. This can result in burning your skin. So make sure you use a cartridge with a protective sleeve (eventually gloves) or buy an inflator head offering CO2 flow control using the control knob.

STEP #3: Once you arrive home, make sure you release the CO2 from the tire and use a floor pump to inflate it. Due to its properties, the CO2 will leak from the tire overnight.

A GCN reporter, Simon Richardson, explains how to use the CO2 inflator in the video below.

Using a CO2 inflator is easy

Once you use the cartridge, please do not throw it into the ditch and be eco-responsible. Take it home with you and once you collect more metal waste, bring it to scrap for further recycling.


CO2 Inflators FAQ


This post is regularly updated to provide you the most up to date tips on products. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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