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15-01-2022 | Frank Jansen

Air compressor, what's in it for you and what to look out for?

A growing number of cyclists are discovering the benefits of an air compressor. You may have thought about buying one. What should you look out for?

What is a compressor?

A compressor is a device that compresses air and stores it at a pressure of around 8-10 bar, usually in a tank (more on this later). A compressor can be connected to different types of equipment. The tools used by dentists, orthopedists, car painters and mechanics all run on air. For hobby cyclists, however, these kinds of applications are not so interesting. We use on the compressor mainly: 

  1. The air gun. Ideal for blowing the bike clean / dry (and especially the drive train). Also perfect for other applications in and around the house.
  2. A pistol for pumping and making tires tubeless. Also ideal for filling swimming pools, air mattresses, footballs and so on.

What to look for when buying a compressor?

  • First of all, you want to get a oil free compressor. These require less maintenance and the air that comes out is oil free. Most compressors are oil-free but not all, so pay attention when you buy one.
  • The noise production is a concern. A compressor can make a huge noise, sometimes up to 90 dB. Do not underestimate this, this is really quite loud. Not a problem if you live remote, definitely a problem if you live in a residential area. There are quieter compressors (usually around 60 dB), but they are slightly more expensive.
  • An alternative is to put an insulated box around your compressor. As long as the compressor is not on continuously, overheating is not an issue.
  • The connection type. EURO (aka DIN) is the most common, however sometimes you will find compressors with an Orion connection. By far the most tools (and hoses) are EURO/DIN. If you have a compressor with an Orion connection, you can buy an adapter for little money.
  • The size of the tank. A compressor stores air in a tank. The larger the tank, the less often the compressor will start up to refill. If you live in a small house, 6 liters is basically workable, but you will have to be patient sometimes. The compressor needs a moment every so often to refill the vessel. In this category, the Silent DST 100/8/6 from Stanley is a good choice.
  • A larger tank of 24-50 liters ultimately works best. 
  • If you want a bigger tank and you don't have a lot of space, there are also models with an upright tank. These can be placed in a corner quite easily.
  • There are also compressors on the market without a tank (the so called "portable compressors"), which are often cheaper. These seem very handy, but for cyclists this type is not recommended. The air output is simply too low.

What accessories do you need?

  • Accessories are almost always exclusive.  Most compressors even come without hose, so you will have to buy extra. A reel is the most convenient, but not strictly necessary.
  • A good blow gun is a must. To get into the small corners, one with a pipe attached (see below) is definitely recommended.

  • The next thing you need is a pump gun. This usually has a pressure gauge on it and a short, flexible hose (see picture). The hose will fit a car valve (Schrader) directly. If you want to connect it to a bicycle valve, you will need an adapter. Personally, I find a universal adapter with a rubber in it (see the picture below) handy. This fits effortlessly on a Presta valve (with or without core) but also on other vales including Dunlop.

  • There are several sets on the market that will get you done in one go. This one for example.

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