Radial Cycles' Micro Vapour Co2 Inflator pump is a compact, lightweight model that rescues soft tyres in seconds, with some nice refinements that I wasn't expecting from this end of the market. The means of regulating release isn't the most refined, though.
The metal/resin valve is a double-ended design for Presta and Schrader valves, which means you can just plonk it on without the need to undo fiddly bits of plastic. Heads are supposedly angled for more convenient latching on, although it didn't seem any more, or indeed any less, convenient than others I've used.
One 16g cartridge comes supplied, complete with a neoprene sleeve to offset chill when the freezing gas is discharged. It's a simple screwtop design, which proved fully interchangeable with B'Twin and another smaller brand, so supplies shouldn't be too difficult to come by.
Talking of cartridges, these will deteriorate over time when plugged in, so Radial Cycles have addressed this by having it ride shotgun on one side, then threaded into the other when the need arises.
Performance is definitely on par with established brands, with a zero to optimum timescale of around three seconds. Using my 700x23, 700x32/35 and 26x1.6 as controls, it's raced them from pancake flat to 125, 100 and 60psi in 3, 4 and 5 seconds respectively.
That neoprene sleeve does take the chill off during discharge – hardly a problem through the summer months but this can smart a bit if tackled with bare hands in the depths of winter.
I'm not completely sold on screwing the cartridge progressively tighter to fine-tune release. That said, I'm guessing it's the most workable compromise given the pump head's design, and quickly becomes intuitive. Talking of pumps, I'd never want to be solely reliant on any Co2 system, no matter how refined, and always carry a high pressure hand pump of some description as a backup.
Although the convenience of the Micro Vapour's double-headed design is tempered by a slightly fiddly release system, nonetheless this Co2 inflator is very efficient and has a lot to offer.
Very efficient roadside inflator, though fine-tuning release via cartridge is an acquired art
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Radial Cycles Micro Vapour Co2 Pump
Size tested: black, Micro Vapour Co2 Inflator Pump with one 16g cartridge
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Radial say: "The Micro Vapour Co2 Inflator Pump is a compact lightweight pump that will prove an invaluable tool to any cyclist. The Micro Vapour can be used to inflate tyres in seconds, making on the road bike repairs quick and easy. Storing the Co2 cartridge on one side of the inflator keeps everything together until you need it, then the cartridge can be then be loaded by screwing into the opposite side."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Radial say: "The rate of inflation can be regulated by simply twisting the cartridge to release it. Its compact size allows the Micro Vapour Co2 Inflator Pump to fit nicely in a saddle bag. From the budding cyclist to the avid enthusiast, this is one tool that will be an essential part of your collection."
Well made using good quality materials.
On par with everyone else's, though not necessarily any better, and system of progressive release is a little crude.
Head design is very convenient and neoprene sheath takes the edge off chill when Co2 is being discharged.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, it has performed very well, raising soft tyres to optimal pressure in a matter of seconds. The dual-headed design accentuates this convenience and it is compatible with other screw type cartridges. Tuning pressure release is by steadily winding the cartridge tight – a head mounted 'button' would have been more convenient/refined.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Generally well conceived and excellent value.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Small point but I found the need to twist the cartridge less convenient than some.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely worth a look
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)