Photograph of Arundel Shop Inflator for presta valves

Inflator shootout: VIAIR TLC, Arundel Shop Inflator, Prestaflator Professional, and Park Tool INF-2 compared

If you're adding an air compressor to your bicycle workshop, you'll need an inflator head to convert the air compressor fittings to the presta or schrader valves used on your bike. Four players dominate this market: the Arundel Shop Inflator, the VIAIR TLC, the Prestacycle Professional, and the Park Tool INF-2.

Any of these inflators will help you seat and inflate tubeless tires, plus handle all your day-to-day inflation needs. But which should you buy? Let's compare the features and specs, side-by-side, to help you decide.

Features: VIAIR TLC, Arundel Shop Inflator, Prestacycle Professional, and Park Tool INF-2 compared

Let's review the features of these 4 tools, at a glance:

VIAIR TLC Inflator Arundel Presta Shop Inflator Prestacycle Presatflator Professional Park Tool INF-2
Retail Price $69.99 $99.95 $59.95 $147.95
Handles presta?
Handles schrader? Optional add-on No, separate tool needed
Built-in gauge?
Works with 1/4" compressor fittings?
Works with 3/8" compressor fittings
Includes carry bag
Includes blower tip
One-handed design
Two-handed design

The Arundel Shop Inflator, VIAIR TLC, and Park Tool INF-2 offer one-handed operation, while the Prestacycle Prestaflator is a two-handed tool

The one-handed tools allow you to dispense compressed air with a trigger using one hand, while holding the bike or wheel with the other hand. This is convenient for busy shops or home users, eating or drinking while you wrench, or taking phone calls.

The Prestacycle Prestaflator has a different design with the presta valve fitting sitting at the end of a flexible hose, instead of integral to the tool. This makes it easy to reach around corners or into small spaces, but requires two hands to operate.

How these inflators handle presta and schrader valves

Each of the 4 inflator tools uses a different approach to switch between presta and schrader valves:

  • The Arundel Shop Inflator comes in presta and schrader versions, which are dedicated tools - they don't convert between valve types, i.e. you need two tools if you want to work on both presta and schrader valves.
  • The VIAIR TLC is primarily a presta tool, but can handle schrader if you add an optional (not included) schrader fitting
  • The Prestacycle Prestaflator handles both presta and schrader by unthreading and swapping the head of the tool. Both fittings are included.
  • The Park Tool INF-2 has an important advantage, a rotating head with fittings for both presta and schrader, right out of the box. You just flip it over. But it's by far the most expensive tool of the options.

The types of valves you'll regularly work on is an important consideration when deciding between these air tools. If you work only on presta valves, any of these tools will do the job. If you also work on schrader valves, choose carefully.

The Park Tool INF-2 uses a less common 3/8" fitting; others are 1/4" I/M

Of the various inflator heads for compressors on the market, all the major players (Prestacycle Prestaflator, Arundel Shop Inflator, VIAIR TLC) each use the common 1/4" I/M connector type. This is the connection most commonly found on the air lines, fittings, and compressors in the sub-$300 range that you'll find at Home Depot or Lowes.

The Park Tool INF-2 stands alone, it's designed for 3/8" fittings instead. This is not a huge deal - you just need a matching coupler plug or adapter to use it with the 1/4" I/M fitting commonly used on home air compressors, but it's an odd design choice. Buyers will need to make sure they have access to an adapter or coupler plug when using the INF-2.

How do prices compare?

At $147.95, the Park INF-2 is more than double the price of the $59.95 Prestacycle Prestaflator Inflator or TLC, and 50% more than an Arundel Shop Inflator. So what do buyers get for the money?

  • The INF-2 has a clever dual-sided head that handles both presta and schrader valves, no adapter needed. With the other tools, you'll be swapping parts or swapping entire tools.

This is a great feature, but only worth paying for if you encounter schrader valves regularly. Since most mid-to-high-end bikes use presta valves, this may not be important for many riders - choose one of the less expensive presta-focused tools instead.

Included accessories

These four inflator tools are differentiated slightly by the included accessories:

  • With the VIAIR TLC Inflator, you'll receive a carry bag, which is nice for protecting the inflator in your toolbox or while in transit to an event.
  • The Prestacycle Prestaflator includes a blower tip, which is useful for cleaning up sawdust or debris around your shop.

Maximum PSI and included gauge

The VIAIR Inflator comes in 120 and 160 PSI versions, the Park Tool INF-2 comes in a single version that also maxes at 160 PSI. The Prestacycle tool goes up to 172 PSI, while the Arundel Shop Inflator stops at 160 PSI.

This is worth noting, but probably isn't the differentiating factor.  The trend on modern road, mountain, gravel, and cyclocross is toward wider tires with lower pressures - either device has a gauge that goes much higher than most riders will ever use.

Which inflator tool should you buy?

Any of these inflators are a high quality, pro-level tool to add to your toolbox or workshop. So how to decide?

If you work with schrader valves regularly (automative, motorcycle, ATV, etc.) consider the Prestacycle Prestaflator or the Park Tool INF-2, which come out of the box ready for both presta and schrader use.

If you only work on presta valves, the much less expensive VIAIR TLC or Arundel Shop Inflator are more attractive options, the designs are simpler with no extra parts to misplace.

    Learn more about using an air compressor with tubeless tires

    Once you've purchased an inflator head, learn how to select an air compressor, and how to hook it all up with my guide, "how to setup a home air compressor for use with tubeless bicycle tires."

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