The Prestaflator tool delivers air to your bicycle tires quickly, safely and accurately. An appropriate Air Compressor is also needed to get the job done without complications. Air compressors vary widely in capabilities, size and price. Fortunately, inflating bicycle tires does not require a larger or more expensive machine. There are some considerations however that make a big difference.
Pressure is measured in Pounds per Square Inch (PSI). It is very important that your air compressor can provide the air pressure you want in your tire. A compressor's maximum rating is NOT an indicator that a compressor will do the job. Air compressors have two pressure rating numbers. The maximum pressure (also known as the cut-out rating) is the pressure that the compressor stops filling the tank. The cut-in pressure is how low the air tank will go before the machine starts filling-up again. If a compressor has a maximum rating of 135psi, it may have a cut-in pressure as low as 110psi. This means that at least 110psi will be available "instantly". Getting more pressure than that may take time while the machine runs to get your tire and tank filled. Of course, you will never get more pressure in your tire than the maximum your compressor can provide.
Volume is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). This value rates how fast a compressor will re-fill itself when you have drained down the storage tank. If your compressor is plugged-in, this re-fill will always begin once you reach the cut-in pressure. Generally all compressors with storage tanks have enough power to keep-up with bicycle tire inflation. Your desire to pay more for a compressor with a higher CFM rating will depend primarily on your other uses for your compressor.
Air reserves are stored in an air tank to provide "instant" inflation. The tank's capacity is measured in Gallons. The true value is a little tricky due to pressure ratings. If a compressor offers a higher PSI, the same size tank will hold more air due to pressure. There is usually only a noticeable difference with the smallest compressor tanks. A unit with a 2.5 gallon tank holding 110 psi might actually hold less air capacity than a 2 gallon tank that holds 150 psi. As long as your compressor has power, storage only affects how many times you can inflate tires before the compressor needs to run to re-fill the tank.
Most compressors have significant power draw and require access to non-portable electricity. There are a few 12V compressors with storage tanks available on the market. Recently we have reviewed and now use one that works anywhere. The Campbell-Hausfeld FP2071 has both an internal storage tank and an internal rechargeable battery to make it great to use on-the-go.
Oil vs. oil-less lubrication
Be aware that an oil-lubed compressor (and even most floor pumps which do not use a leather plunger) offer a chance that small amounts of oil will go into your tire. This should not pose any real concern in daily conditions, however we would use a modern oil-free compressor at pro racing events, so why not every day?
Inflators can be used with Prestaflator, but in most cases you will not be happy with the inflator device. In general, devices called "inflators" have given a bad name to powered tire inflation. These devices are sometimes improperly called compressors, but without an air tank their proper designation is "Inflator". These devices do work ...but they have one thing in common, they are usually much slower than a floor pump. Due to size and voltage (they are mostly 12V), the volume capacity of these units is usually very small. This makes them very slow to fill. Without a storage tank, there is no "instant" fill as with a compressor.
More expensive 12v inflators with higher volume capacity do offer the capability for a good "installed" system in a vehicle. This is often referred to as "on-board air". Be aware they won't run off a lighter jack and must be directly connected or wired to the battery of your vehicle. Usually a good "on-board" system includes a storage tank to make it more effective.
Portable Air Tank
Portable air tanks by themselves are also an option with Prestaflator. Please note the maximum pressure rating of any air tank. An air tank will only be useful until the pressure inside it has gone down to your desired pressure. A 5 gallon air tank may drop below your riding pressure after filling only 3 or 4 Road or Mountain tires. This is the same disadvantage as CO2 cartridges. Once you drain an air tank, you no longer have a source of air.
Very useful, unique cycling product.
~ Kenneth G. Merkel, PhD, PE