SKS is a German company that is best known for their bike fenders and mudguards in the US, but their product suite also includes pumps, saddle bags, multitools, and chainguards and water bottle cages. They have been manufacturing bike pumps for 80 years, and originated the mini pump, and last year sold 7.8 million pumps and 4 millions fenders/mudguards worldwide. The US general manager for SKS, Mark Burgener went through part of their products one evening at the Magura 2011 Sedona press camp, and I was amazed at the breadth of their line relative to mountain biking, and to a lesser extent, the commuter and urban bikes.
Their floor pumps include their 40 year old prestigious Rennkompressor, the top of the line Airbase Pro, the entry level Airwork and the mountain bike specific Aircon. I used the Aircon quite a few times at the Sedona camp, and the large stable base, and the ability to add monstrous amounts of air volume with each stroke was perfect for inflating fat mountain bike tires. All the pumps include their EVA (Easy Valve Access) head, which auto detects the valve type, whether it’s a Schrader or Presta. All their pumps are engineered and made in Germany.
The high-volume Aircon 6.0 floor pump uses an oversized corrosion-resistant steel barrel, with a 730mm stroke, and can inflate to 87 psi/6 bar. It features a large 80mm diameter pressure gauge, an ergonomic dual compound handle, a wide stable base, their valve sensing E.V.A. (Easy Valve Access) head, and retails for $45.
The Aircon is an interesting beast, and it proves that size does matter! Most floor pumps are designed for high pressure and low volume road tires, and can be somewhat ill-suited for pumping up their monstrous high-volume mountain bike brethren. Hook up a normal floor pump to inflate a large mountain bike tire, and you’ll be stroking forever to get it to its anemic pressure setting. While a road or cross tire might require 90-120 psi, the fatter and higher-volume mountain bike tires need pressures around 25-35 psi (ballpark numbers). Enter the high-volume Aircon floor pump as the ideal tool, which has a 730mm stroke and an oversized barrel, and is perfect for mountain bike tires. It creates over twice as much air per stroke than their other floor models, so that the high-volume and low pressure mountain bike tires can be quickly inflated. Its large-diameter barrel gives more volume per stroke!
During my usage over the last season, it has been immensely functional, and topping off my extremely fat 2.4 and 2.5 tires only required a few quick strokes, and I am done, in contrast to the usual endless number with a normal pump. The very large gauge was easy to see and read, even for my old eyes; although I am not sure why it goes to 140 psi (it goes to 11)? I wish that the gauge’s range was smaller, and would therefore have larger gradations between the numbers, especially considering the most mountain bike tires only need a 20-35 psi reading. The large-volume stroke can cause some issues once you get upwards of 45 psi, as it becomes more difficult to push that large amount of air at the higher pressures, which is why the road based designs are more throttled down in their barrel diameters. The Aircon is supposed to have a maximum output of 87 psi, but I never got close to that, since it was too tough to pump very high, and none of my mountain bike tires need anything above 35 psi. I could get several of my tubeless ready tires to seat on the rims, but it didn’t usurp my handy compressor, which is still the best for getting finicky tubeless tires to pop on. The fancy E.V.A head worked nicely, and did its job detecting if the valve was Schrader or Presta, although if the Schrader threading wasn’t long enough it wouldn’t clamp down to pop open the valve itself for proper inflation. The locking lever for the head was somewhat difficult to clamp down, and tended to snap back on your fingers when releasing it, so it took some practice for usage.
The pump handle had a nice feel in the hands, and was easy to hold onto when pushing the vast amounts of air into the tires. The wide base offered extra support and stability, which greatly helped with pumping the long stroked monster. It didn’t take to many strokes to inflate a tire from scratch, making the task much easier and less time consuming. For storing the pump, the hose can either be clamped on either side of the barrel just below the handle, or the integrated hook on the head can hang from its latch point on the handle. I used the former, since I was tossing the pump into the back of my truck, and the hose clamping over the top of the handle kept it in place.
The Aircon 6.0 is an excellent floor pump that is extremely well suited for inflating high-volume and low pressure mountain bike tires. The oversized barrel creates double the amount of air for each stroke of the handle, so that mountain bike tires can be quickly inflated or topped off. The large gauge is easy to read, although it needs half the pressure range and better gradation. The ergonomic handle and stable base work in a synergistic fashion for easy stroking during inflation. The E.V.A. worked nicely and easily sensed the valve type, although the clamp snapped back during release. The Aircon 6.0 is well-built and durable, and is perhaps one of the most ideal mountain bike floor pumps I have used, with an excellent $45 price point.
- Large easy to read gauge
- Wide and stable base
- Large ergonomic handle
- Well built and durable
- Large-diameter barrel gives more volume per stroke
- Hard to pump at higher pressures
- E.V.A. head – hard to clamp and snaps back on release
- Gauge number range is too large
Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Aircon 6.0 Specs:
- Visit the SKS Aircon 6.0 website
- high volume pump
- wide stable base
- oversized steel barrel
- high pressure flexible connection with EVA-Head
- Easy to read 80mm pressure gauge (bar/PSI)
- valve: all kinds of valves
- length: 730mm
- ouput max: 87psi/6 bar
- weight: 1730g