Park Tool INF-2 vs. VIAIR TLC Inflator - which is best for tubeless tires?

Park Tool's INF-2 looks very similar to the VIAIR TLC Inflator, and both perform the similar functions of helping you seat and inflate tubeless bicycle tires. The Park INF-2 costs more than double the VIAIR TLC, however... is it worth the extra cost?

Let's take a look at the features and specs on the Park Tool INF-2 and VIAIR TLC Inflator head-to-head and see how they stack up.

Features: VIAIR TLC vs. Park Tool INF-2 Inflator

Let's review the features, at a glance:

VIAIR TLC Inflator Park Tool INF-2
Retail Price $69.99 $147.95
Handles presta?
Handles schrader? Optional add-on
Built-in gauge?
Works with 1/4" compressor fittings?
Works with 3/8" compressor fittings
Includes carry bag

Both the Park Tool INF-2 and VIAIR TLC Inflator offer one-handed operation, and include a built-in gauge

Both tools offer easy one-handed operation that 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.

Each inflator also includes a built-in gauge, a wash.

How these inflators handle presta and schrader valves

The Park Tool has an important advantage, a rotating head with fittings for both presta and schrader, right out of the box.

On the VIAIR TLC, it's primarily a tool for working with presta valves; an optional adapter is needed (not included) for schrader - a minor inconvenience for regular schrader users. If you only need presta, this helps keep the price low, but if you need to work with both valve types, don't forget to budget for the VIAIR schrader fitting also.

The Park Tool INF-2 uses a less common 3/8" fitting

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.

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.

The Park Tool INF-2 is more than double the price of a VIAIR TLC Inflator

At $147.95, the Park INF-2 is more than double the price of the $69.95 VIAIR TLC Inflator. So what do buyers get for the money?

  • The Park Tool name - definitely one of the most recognizable and trusted brands in the bicycle space, and it comes in the distinctive blue color (if you're a mechanic that cares about all your tools matching)
  • A dual-sided head that handles both presta and schrader valves, no adapter needed. With the VIAIR TLC Inflator, an adapter (not included) is needed for working with schrader valves.

Other than those small differences, the INF-2 and TLC Inflator are awfully similar. Especially for buyers who work primarily with presta valves exclusively on mid to high-end bicycles, there isn't enough of a difference in features or functionality to justify the substantially higher price of the INF-2.

Included accessories

With the VIAIR TLC Inflator, you'll also receive a carry bag, which is nice for protecting the inflator in your toolbox or while in transit to an event. The Park INF-2 does not include a carry bag.

Maximum PSI

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.

This probably isn't meaningful for most users, but is important to note for riders who want an ultra-high pressure option. It's worth noting that 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.

VIAIR TLC Inflator vs. Park Tool INF-2: which should you buy?

Either of these inflators are a high quality, pro-level tool to add to your toolbox or workshop. Users who are loyal to the Park Tool brand may appreciate the Park Tool signature branding and backing on the INF-2, while value-seeking riders who aren't loyal to Park will appreciate the much lower retail price on the VIAIR TLC Inflator. The primary reason to choose the Park Tool INF-2 is if you work with schrader valves regularly.

    Learn more about using an air compressor with tubeless tires

    Once you've purchased an inflator head, learn which compressor to buy, 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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