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CO2 Inflators - not lasting - what am I doing wrong?

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CO2 Inflators - not lasting - what am I doing wrong?

Old 10-13-21, 11:07 PM
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I have a Genuine Innovations AirChuck and Planet Bike Red Zeppelin. Never used either. I always use a mini pump unless it's a fast club ride and I don't want to keep anyone waiting. But I haven't ridden with any of the fast clubs in a couple of years. My other groups don't mind waiting so I've only needed the mini pump.

I've helped one fellow with a flat repair after his only CO2 cartridge blew into the atmosphere. At first we thought it was a seal leak, but it turned out the same debris that caused the first flat was still inside the tire and punctured his spare tube. So we ended up using my mini pump and patch kit.

If bike CO2 kits are like the many CO2 airguns I've used the cartridges will hold gas for many years, no problem. And about 10% of the time a seal will fail no matter how careful we air. Even when the seals are good it takes only a slight misalignment for a leak.

If I didn't carry a mini pump I'd carry at least two and preferably more CO2 cartridges. Might as well carry a mini pump that doesn't weigh much more or take up much more room than 3 or 4 cartridges.

It's possible the seals fail on some inflators, especially if the inflator has been stored in a saddle bag for years through exposure to heat, ozone, etc. Seal failure was pretty uncommon years ago with CO2 airguns and similar devices because they specced high quality O-rings. But quality control varies wildly now with materials from China, so it's feasible a seal could deteriorate. That's certainly true of many counterfeit products including batteries.
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Old 10-14-21, 01:11 AM
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I had one fail a couple of weeks ago but thankfully I only had a mile and a half walk home. Get an SKS SuperShort mini pump, mount it on your bottle cage and call it a day.
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Old 10-18-21, 11:48 AM
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I've used several different models of CO2 inflators (Genuine Innovations, Blackburn, etc.) and have never had a problem using any of them. I use the small, chuck style inflator with threaded cartridges. Just used one last week that is at least 10 years old and worked no problem. As other said, regardless of the style, don't attach the cartridge to the inflator until you need to use it. Also, practice at home to see what you might be doing wrong.
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Old 10-18-21, 01:47 PM
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The CO2 inflator I have is one that just screws on the top of the CO2 cartridge. No lever or any valve. You just screw it on fully to puncture the cartridge then unscrew it a tad to let the CO2 flow. Screw it back in when the tire is inflated enough and you'll have some CO2 left to top off the tire if you make a lousy patch job and it leaks. Last time I used it it was a slow leak, so I just kept topping off the tire without patching it till I got home.

I got it at Walmart or Academy Sports eight or so years ago. It worked on March or April of 2020 when I needed it. And for times before that. And I expect it'll work whenever that time in the future comes. It's the Genuine Innovations Nano. You can still get it for less than 10 bucks. You can even get one from this Home Brew Beer supply store online.....

As for putting silicone grease on the o-ring, I don't see where that would hurt. But make sure which you use. I don't know that all silicone grease is made the same. Some might actually be made with bases that harm o-rings. I'd think that silicone grease for plumbing applications would be okay.

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Old 10-18-21, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
First - yes I use a pump when I can. But sometimes I prefer to use CO2, and I take the cartridges home and put them in recycling. There.

Second - every single brand of inflator I've tried - PDW Shiny Object, Blackburn Wayside, Genuine Innovation Microflate Nano - have all eventually failed to work correctly.

Typically since going to tubeless on most of my bikes I have less than a flat per year that I have to fix on the road/trail. In some cases these inflators go unused for months. And then when I go to use them either they leak CO2, or the mechanism by which you release CO2 no longer works correctly (each of the three I listed works slightly differently - one with a knob to open the valve, one you just press the head down, and one you twist the cart to open).

Should I be using some kind of silicone lubricant on the seals? Keeping it in a ziplock in my bike bag? Or is there a brand you've found particularly reliable and long lasting?
are we talking threaded or thread-less co2 cartridges?

Iíve only used threaded cartridges/inflators. I when was originally shopping, i thought thread-less inflators seemed huge compared to a threaded inflators. The threaded co2 inflator devices that i own (3 of them) are about the size of a single earbud where as thread-less inflators are about the size of a small hand pump. Additionally, threaded inflators accept pretty much any size threaded cartridge. Conversely, thread-less inflators accept a much smaller set of sizes. Iíve never had any difficulties with threaded co2 cartridges leaking or use. I donít get many flats so most of my cartridges are several years old. Note, i NEVER leave a cartridge attached to the inflator.
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Old 10-18-21, 02:35 PM
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I wish I knew which manufacturer made my inflator head, because i've had it so long I don't know anymore. It screws onto the top of a CO2 cartridge, and has a red knob that you open to let the gas flow. The brass-coloured outlet screws onto either Presta or Schraeder.

I always used it just as others have suggested - One time use. CO2 cartridge fills punctured road tire to about 80psi, and that's about all it's good for so it gets disconnected again. Recently a friend put me on to the slightly larger CO2 cartridges, so I grabbed a couple. I fixed a fellow rider's flat on one ride, filled their tire until it was probably 95psi, then closed the valve and put it back in my bike. A week later I noticed my tire was low on a ride, and pulled it out on a whim to see if it would work... It did, and still had enough air to bring me up from ~50 to ~90 psi. I was amazed it hadn't leaked out in the week between. I don't carry a pump anymore.
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Old 10-18-21, 04:42 PM
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I had the same problem. I went through 4 or 5 different inflators before I found one that worked reliably. The Lezyne CO2 Flex Hose. It's totally different than any other inflator I've used.
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Old 10-18-21, 06:04 PM
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Bike Pro Tool

I've had good luck with Bike Pro Tool's inflator and carry them on several bikes. They deal with the problem of unintended release while attaching the cartridge and unintended release while attaching to the valve on the bike.
I buy generic cartridges on Amazon in boxes of 30 for a little over $1 each. Someone has studied the probabilities of bad cartridges and claims that if you weigh them you can determine if they're empty. Fun to think about, but I just carry one in the chamber (upside down) and two in the pack and have not been stranded anywhere (yet).
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