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Topeak AirBooster Nano With 16g CO2



A rather 'vague' fit on Presta valves made this a bit hit-and-miss, but it's light and simple
Well made
Can't be screwed on to Presta valves for a foolproof seal
Sleeve seems neither use nor ornament
My inflation pressures seemed well below Topeak's 'suggested' target

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Topeak's AirBooster Nano with 16g CO2 cartridge is a basic inflator that was a bit hit-and-miss on Presta valves though it works well on Schraders. But as our best bike pumps and CO2 inflators guide shows, there are lots of options when it comes to inflation.

A CO2 inflator seems a no-brainer for quick puncture fixes on the road, especially in the winter when you don't want to keep your riding buddies waiting. Topeak sent us its AirBooster Nano as a carded pack that includes a gas cartridge and what it calls a 'shell' to put that in. We'll bring you more on that in a moment...

> Buy now: Topeak AirBooster Nano with 16g CO2 for £12.99 from CJ Performance Cycles

My main requirements for a CO2 inflator are that they are simple to use – no complicated routine to remember that might result in a failure – and are controllable for preventing over-inflation. Lastly, a good seal twixt inflator and valve is essential, to avoid the undesirable outcome of the entire canister being discharged into the air instead of the tyre.

2022 Topeak AirBooster Nano With 16g CO2 - 2.jpg

The AirBooster Nano adaptor is a single piece of CNC-fashioned aluminium, knurled for grip where needed and weighing under 10g on our kitchen scales. At one end it's threaded to fit a standard cartridge thread, the other to fit a Schrader valve, though for Prestas it's a push fit only.

The airtight seal is made using an internal rubber ring and this will be subject to wear with use as it is pushed down over the Presta valve head and stem with its various threaded surfaces. That could compromise the seal in time.

In my view a screw fit is the more reliable way of making a good seal. On the other hand, I've used screw-on inflator heads for Presta valves that have removed the valve core when I've unscrewed them, with catastrophic results (I'm looking at you, Lezyne!). If you are using tubeless tyres with Prestas then you will certainly have removable valve cores; in that case a press-fit like the Nano Airbooster is probably a safer bet.

> Video: Learn the easy way to change a tubeless tyre

However, I found it took a bit of trial and error to be sure I was using the Topeak just right. In particular, you need to get a feel for how far to loosen the valve core head before pressing on the adaptor – too far and the valve core was inclined to get pressed down by the Airbooster's internals, letting even more air out.

On the other hand, you need to be sure the adaptor is pressed down firmly over the stem to ensure the seal engages properly. This kind of 'vague' operation matters less with tools you use every day and get a feel for how they work best; but with something kept for emergencies like this, I really want it to work first time, every time and I wasn't confident of that.

Inflation is achieved by screwing the cartridge all the way into the adaptor to puncture the end, then backing it off a half-turn or so. If you find you don't need a whole cartridge, you can stop the flow by tightening it into the head again. I thought this might allow me to save the remaining gas for the next job, but Topeak advises you to completely discharge the cartridge after inflating your tyre.

Inflation was very quick (it was too quick to time!) on a 25mm tyre, but I struggled to get the tyre up to more than 85psi before the cartridge ran out of puff. Topeak's 'Inflation Suggestion Sheet' reckons on 100psi for a 25x700c tyre, but then adds helpfully, 'Actual inflation pressure may vary'. We have a guide on how to choose the best tyre pressure if you’re not sure.

As supplied, the Nano AirBooster has a rubber collar that sits between the gas cartridge and the inflator. This is there for storage, simply to prevent you screwing the canister too tightly into the head and discharging it accidentally. It's exactly the kind of small part that's going to get lost in the long grass but it's not super-critical.

The gas cartridge itself seems fairly standard. Topeak's website tells you to use only its cartridges – and why wouldn't it? I suppose there may be some variability in the length of the threaded necks that might result in you accidentally screwing the cartridge in too far, though I tried a couple of different makes without problems.

> Learn how to fix a puncture

The other item in the pack is the plastic sleeve, which Topeak refers to variously as the 'CO2 Shell' or the 'CO2 Sleeve'. The instruction leaflet tells you to 'use the CO2 Sleeve to protect your hands during inflation'. The instructions on the back of the card say: 'Please wear gloves to protect your hands during inflation.'

2022 Topeak AirBooster Nano With 16g CO2 - 3.jpg

The rapid discharge very quickly freezes cartridge, adaptor and stem and I can vouch that the sleeve itself will not stop your fingers from frosting. In fact, it was even more useless than that, because on trying to screw the cartridge fully into the head I found the sleeve was turning but the cartridge wasn't, despite the rubber band that's supposed to make a snug fit. If you're using a 25g cartridge (recommended for 29ers and gravel tyres), it won't fit in this sleeve anyway. I thought Topeak could save a couple of quid by leaving it out.

Value and rivals

You can buy the Nanobooster head separately for around £13, so a penny under £17 RRP means you're adding £4 for the cartridge and the rubbery/plasticky bits. With a pair of Topeak's own 16g cartridges coming in at £9, that's not too bad.

Birzman's E-Grip CO2 Inflator uses a neoprene sleeve instead of the plastic one supplied by Topeak and worked well when Shaun tested it, but at £17.99 it's a little dearer than the Topeak.

At the more deluxe end of things Pro Bike Tool's CO2 Inflator comes in at £19.98 – but with no cartridge included. It employs a screw fitting, but, sure enough, Steve Williams found it had a propensity to remove your valve cores.

Overall, I thought this Topeak offering was okay, if you're confident you can remember how to use it 'just so' in the field: Best to take a spare gas cartridge, just in case. Oh – and protect your hands with gloves, not the supplied sleeve.


A rather 'vague' fit on Presta valves made this a bit hit-and-miss, but it's light and simple test report

Make and model: Topeak AirBooster Nano With 16g CO2

Size tested: 16g

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?

Topeak says: "An extremely compact, lightweight and easy-to-use CO2 inflator. Precision CNC machined aluminum inflator fits Presta and Schrader valves and works with threaded 16g or 25g cartridges. Simply screw the cartridge in tight and then screw the head onto the valve, unscrew the cartridge to release all the gas from the CO2 cartridge in seconds."

If lightness is your key concern this fits the bill. For worry-free inflation it's a bit more shaky.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Fits Presta and Schrader valves.

Works with threaded 16g or 25g cartridges

Repair and inflate tubeless tyres (a plug insertion tool is available separately)

Rate the product for quality of construction:

A simple piece of machined aluminium outside, with a pressed-in valve fitting, all tidily done.

Rate the product for performance:

Fine on Schraders (though not sure who's still using them); the press-fit connection on Presta valves wasn't all that positive and took a bit of experimentation to ensure a good seal. The plastic sleeve doesn't protect your hands from frost and prevented me from twisting the cartridge fully into the inflator head.

It inflates quickly, mind.

Rate the product for durability:

The simple design means not much to go wrong. The internal O-ring might be damaged by repeated pressing onto Presta valves.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)

If you want the lightest, this may be it.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)

As supplied with the plastic sleeve, this offered little to no frost protection for the hands. The adaptor was comfortable to use, with nicely knurled and milled edges.

Rate the product for value:

Decent enough, with a cartridge included. Topeak could abandon the plastic sleeve and save a few bob.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Okay, but it was a fine line between ensuring a secure fit over the valve and accidentally pressing the valve core head down, which allowed air to escape through the valve. Inflation was fast and the flow control was simple and effective. On Schrader valves, the screw fit ensured a reliable seal.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Light, simple, good controllable flow.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The slightly vague press-fit connection on Presta valves. The plastic sleeve seemed pointless.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

You can buy the Nanobooster head separately for around £13, so a penny under £17 RRP means you're adding £4 for the cartridge and the rubbery/plasticky bits. With a pair of Topeak's own 16g cartridges coming in at £9, that's not too bad.

Birzman's e-Grip Inflator uses a neoprene sleeve instead of the plastic one supplied by Topeak, and at £17.99 it's a similar price.

Pro Bike Tool's CO2 Inflator comes in at £19.98, but doesn't come with a cartridge. It employs a screw fitting instead of a press-fit connector, but Steve Williams found it had a propensity to remove your valve cores.

Did you enjoy using the product? I've used worse

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Use this box to explain your overall score

You really only get one chance with a CO2 cartridge and if you waste it, it can leave you stranded. So the vague press-fit didn't fill me with confidence. But if you want something that inflates quickly, is small and light and won't remove your valve cores, it's worth considering.

Overall rating: 5/10

About the tester

Age: 57  Height: 6'2  Weight: 75kg and rising

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

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