Air Handler Mini Pump Is Lightweight, Durable, and Fits in Your Pocket
COMPACT, LIGHT, AND POWERFUL ENOUGH FOR HIGH-VOLUME TIRES
Published by Bicycling Magazine
Small and easy to fit in a jersey pocket or saddle bag, the Air Handler Mini Pump is a nice alternative for riders who need a diminutive pump and want to avoid disposable CO2 cartridges. It's compact (only 6.3 inches), light, and can crank out a lot of air in a relatively short amount of time thanks to an internal piston that pumps air in both directions.
The Air Handler Mini is the little brother of the Air Handler Floor Pump by Bike Tube, better known for tubes and tube accessories. The Air Handler is the first foray into the pump market, but Bike Tube tapped experienced pump manufacturer Beto to build these models. The goal was simple with the Air Handler Mini: the pump needed to be small enough to fit in a pocket or small bag, lightweight, durable, and inexpensive.
High Volume and High Pressure
The mini has a two-stage design that allows you to dictate switches between high volume and high pressure. For filling fat tires and for starting off a road tire, flip it to HV (high volume), which pushes out a large blast of air relatively easily. Once the going gets tough, flip the switch the other way for high pressure (HP) and top off your road tires. That setting produces less air, which makes pumping easier as pressure increases.
Like Bike Tube's floor-pump, the Air Handler, the mini also has the company's Auto Head, which accepts both Schrader and presta valves without the hassle of changing the nozzle or figuring out which side is for Schrader and which is for presta. Just stick it on the valve and get to work. Since the pump is so small (6.3 inches) and can easily fit in a jersey pocket or bag, Bike Tubes doesn't supply a frame clip. If you need a pump that attaches to your bottle cage mounts, look elsewhere.
Inflating Tires With the Air Handler Mini
Pumping high-volume mountain bike tires is far less arduous thanks to the HV (high volume) switch and dual-action design that pushes air into the tire when you push and also when you pull the handle. It took about 135 strokes to fill a 29 x 2.2 tire to 20 psi, which is considerably less than the 180 required with a more-expensive single-action pump. In fairness, though, dual-action pumps require effort on both the push and pull, so you're spending more energy per stroke cycle. With a dual action like the Air Handler, inflating your tires is faster, but not always easier. Compared to the Topeak Mountain DA (dual action) Mini it performed identically.
Bike Tube claims the Air Handler can fill a road tire to 120 psi. It probably can, if you have all day and forearms the size of John Cena's. In testing, I found the pump could quickly and easily get a 25c road tire up to about 30psi using the high-volume setting. Once I put it in the high-pressure setting, inflation remained easy, but the rate slowed. After a few minutes my forearms where shot and I had only got the tire to 60 psi. That's plenty to get home and more than enough than you'd need for most commuter and city bikes. But far short of the pressure Bike Tubes claims. Other pumps we tried inflated to higher pressures faster and easier (though none approached the 120 psi mark before we tired.)
That makes the Air Handler Mini better suited for mountain bike and pavement rides where lower pressures are required. It's light, affordable, works on both valve styles, and fills tires quickly. It still works for high-pressure road tires, but if that's your primary need, there are better (though likely pricier) options.
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