How to Use CO2 and Inflators For Cycling | Barton Haynes

Getting started with using C02 is slightly intimidating because it’s not as intuitive as simply using a small hand pump. What if you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere with a flat and you can’t get the CO2 to work? What if, like me the first time I bought them, you can get them to work but you get the wrong size and keep blowing our your tubes?

Fortunately, it is easy and the advantages are worth the hour it takes to get comfortable with using CO2:

  • Less space needed (no pump required) while riding
  • Quicker tube change times
  • Perfect tire pressure when changing

Parts Needed for CO2 While Cycling

You need two parts to use CO2 while cycling:

  1. The inflator, which connects to your tube, has a slot that connects to your CO2 cartridge, and (sometimes) has a small lever allowing you to control airflow
  2. CO2 cartridge, which comes in one of three sizes and type types – threaded and unthreaded.

The Inflator Part

The inflator comes in two types:

  • Those with flow control, usually in the form of a small lever
  • Those without flow control, which dumps the entire cartridge into the tube

You can guess which one I recommend if you read about my first experience using these, and busting 3 tubes in row- FLOW CONTROL!

In addition to making sure you don’t over pressurize your tubes, you have the ability to not dump the entire cartridge in, such as in situations like:

  • It’s rainy and you want a softer tire with better grip
  • You have a bumpy ride and you don’t want a hard tire that makes you feel every pebble

The CO2 Cartridge

CO2 cartridges come in three sized:

  • 12g – designed to fill up tires to 90 PSI
  • 16g – designed to fill up tires to 120+ PSI
  • 25g – designed to fil up tires 140-170 PSI

Also, they come as threaded or unthreaded cartridges. I use threaded ones because it’s easier to do it right (and not screw up). Simply screw it in and inflate.

How to Use CO2 Cartridges

Barton Haynes Co2 Inflator

It’s quite simple. 

  1. Attach your inflator to your tube in the same way you would attach your pump head to the tube
  2. Screw in the cartridge (for threaded) or stick it in hard (for unthreaded)
  3. Control the flow of air if you have flow control, otherwise watch your tire fill up (it takes only a moment)

That’s it. Way way way better than sitting by the side of the road cranking on a small hand pump that won’t go above 90 PSI no matter how much you try. 

Happy cycling,

Barton Haynes

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3