Tubeless tires have become an essential for modern cyclocross, gravel, and mountain bikes. While some tubeless tires can be seated using a floor pump, using an air compressor is the "easy button" method.
It's now possible to get a full home workshop compressor setup for working on bicycles for about $200, making it within range of the home mechanic. In addition to their usefulness on tubeless bicycle tires, owning an air compressor has many other household uses, and adding one to your home workshop is more realistic and useful than ever.
In this article I'll share with you a shopping list to create your own home compressor setup, and step-by-step instructions for how to use it for bikes.
Modern bicycles increasingly use tubeless tires. Sometimes, when installing tubeless tires, the beads can be seated using a floor pump. It varies quite a bit based on the tire, rim tape, and rim. More stubborn tires or tricky rims need more consistent, higher-pressure air to seat the beads. Bike shops and pro mechanics use compressors for this purpose, and so should you.
Let's go shopping! Here's what to look for:
There are certainly others that would work from many other brands. To keep it compatible, look for equipment with the 1/4" I/M type connector to ensure everything matches up. This connector is used on many compressors, air lines, pneumatic power tools, and most importantly, it's also the connector used on the Prestaflator inflator tools.
It should go without saying that you should wear eye and ear protection before using power tools. Please do so.
Consult the owner's manual for your specific compressor, but generally compressors have some features in common. You'll usually find a regulator to control the PSI output - turn it to an appropriate PSI for bikes - you might start with 40 PSI to begin and go higher if needed later.
Open the presta valve and hit it with the compressor. With a little luck, your tubeless tire beads will jump right into place with a satisfying "pop", but if not, check this article for some additional steps to take.
In addition to seating tubeless tires at installation time, you can of course use a compressor for your daily "top-up" inflation needs. Some of the Prestaflator inflation tools have a built-in pressure gauge you can use. If your inflator doesn't have the gauge, use the regulator on your compressor instead.
Once you've got your compressor setup, you can easily remove the Prestaflator Inflator using the quick-release I/M fitting to install other tools. Compressors have a variety of uses beyond bicycles, including:
Compressors are quite noisy and can bleed air slowly over time, which means the motor will turn on to refill the tank periodically. So you'll want to turn it off when not in use. Be a good neighbor!
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I hope this article helps you get the most out of a home compressor setup. Hit me up @RideCX and let me know your own tips.