How to Use A CO2 Inflator

Written by : Mr Mamil
Last updated :

Disclosure : I may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase through links on this page.

Inflating Using CO2 Inflator

The CO2 inflator and cartridge are things many cyclists would have in their saddlebags. Instead of using the hand pump, the CO2 inflator will inflate the bike tire much faster and without effort.

While the device looks simple, there are many embarrassing cases where cyclists botched the inflation and have no spare CO2 cartridge left for a second attempt.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to use a CO2 inflator to inflate your bike tire.

Tools required :

  1. CO2 inflator 
  2. CO2 cartridge
  3. Inner tube
  4. Bicycle tire
  5. Bicycle wheel

Estimated time : 1 to 2 minutes

Step 1. Put the inner tube and tire back in place

  • Make sure the inner tube is sitting neatly inside the tire.
  • Check both sides of the tire to make sure it’s seated correctly.
  • Visually inspect twice or thrice to be sure.

Step 2. Loosen the tire valve

  • Turn the valve head counterclockwise and loosen it completely.
  • Release all the air in the tube, if any. This is applicable if you’re topping up the air.

Step 3. Prepare the CO2 cartridge

  • Most CO2 cartridges sold today are threaded ones. This means that you’ll need to screw the CO2 cartridge into the inflator head to pierce the seal. 
  • You’ll know it’s tight when you feel the seal is pierced.
  • Put on the sleeves of the CO2 cartridge. This will protect your fingers when the cartridge gets very cold when air is released. If you’re wearing gloves, keep them on too.

Step 4. Insert the CO2 inflator into the tire valve

  • Make sure it’s fully inserted to avoid it being pushed out when air is released.

Step 5. Release the CO2

  • You can control the airflow depending on the type of CO2 inflator head you have.
  • Those that have a flow control feature usually have a small adjustment knob where you can control how much air is being released. Make sure the knob is closed (usually by turning it clockwise).
  • For those without one, push the inflator head against the tire valve, and air will be released. Keep in mind that once the air comes out, there’s no turning back.
  • The tire should be fully inflated in less than 5 seconds.
  • If the tire is already firm before the CO2 cartridge is empty, stop the inflation process immediately. Otherwise, you might risk over-inflating the tire.

Step 6. Pack up

  • Unscrew the CO2 cartridge from the inflator and bin when you’re home.
  • Put back the tire valve cap.

Important things to know

  • Practice at home. It’s very common to see a CO2 fail situation where the cyclist doesn’t know how to use the CO2 inflator. This usually leads to an embarrassing situation where the CO2 cartridge is wasted. So, buy extra cartridges and practice using them at home to familiarize yourself with the process. 
  • Protect your fingers. The CO2 cartridge will get extremely cold when air is released. Always wear gloves and have the cartridge sleeves on.
  • Inflate your tires when back at home. CO2 leaks much faster than air. It’s meant for you to complete your ride and get home safely. Remember to deflate and re-inflate your tire once you’re home.
  • Use the correct CO2 cartridge size. CO2 cartridges usually come in three sizes. The difference lies in the volume and your tire type/size. 
  • Never place the CO2 cartridge under direct sunlight. There is a risk they might explode without warning.