While searching online for a presta adapter for my air compressor last fall I came across the Prestaflator and immediately set up an appointment to chat with the creator, David Finlayson at Interbike. Finlayson, it turns out, is the Mr. Wizard of bike tools, and the Prestaflator is but one of many products he has up his sleeve. I’ve been testing several Prestacycle tools lately and I have to say I’m impressed.
The Prestaflator is a an air compressor attachment designed for inflating bike tires. Although the name implies it only works with presta valves, a shrader head is also available or you can purchase the combo kit with both valve heads.
No matter which head you’re using, the attachment features a trigger grip, an oversized pressure gauge that reads up to 170 psi in 2 psi increments, and a micro bleed valve for getting pressures just right. The unit I tested includes a high quality hose and I used the presta head exclusively.
My first test for the Prestaflator involved attempting to mount a non-tubeless tire on a set of tubeless rims, a tire I hadn’t been able to mount using any other method. Was this an unfair test? Maybe, but I figured I had to start somewhere.
The presta head fit snugly over the valve, though I did need to work it a bit to make sure the valve stem was set deep into the inflator head. I squeezed the trigger on the Prestaflator to the max and cringed a little, unsure about what might happen. After just a second or two, I watched the pressure gauge creep up then–pop! The tire bead seated and the pressure starting rising quickly. Letting off the trigger, I was amazed at how quickly and easily I was able to mount this stubborn tire. (Sadly the tire wasn’t able to hold air very long. I got in one good ride but by the time I was done the tire lost half it’s pressure.)
The Prestaflator trigger is variable-rate meaning a little tug lets a little air in while a big pull floods the tire (perfect for the initial mount on a tubeless tire). You can also use the bleed valve to let a small amount of air out of the tire to get things dialed in just right. This is truly a shop-quality tool that I’ve found indispensable for mounting tubeless mountain bike tires.
The Prestaratchet is the first ratchet-style bike tool I’ve seen and I have to say it’s pretty slick. The tool handle itself is small enough that it would be tempting to pack the tool and attachments on the trail, though sadly a carrying case is not included.
The Prestaratchet may look small but it packs a whole bike tool kit: 2-8mm allen heads, T6, T8, T10, T15, T20, T25, and T30 heads, and even phillips and flat screwdriver heads. At first I wasn’t sure about the small size of the ratchet–I have big hands–but I’m guessing one reason it’s so small is to avoid over-torquing bolts on delicate parts.
I can be a bit heavy handed when I work on my bikes and I can’t count the number of allen and torx bolt heads I’ve stripped over the years (especially pedal cleats). The nice thing about using a ratcheting tool like the Prestaratchet is you can set the tool in the bolt head and leave it there instead of constantly taking it in and out to re-position your hand. And of course the ratchet action makes it easy to work quickly in tight spaces too.
Is it possible to build a better tire lever? David Finlayson and Prestacycle think so and after using the Prestalever I definitely think they’re onto something.
The Prestalever is designed to hook onto the inside of the rim for a solid connection that won’t slip off no matter how tight a tire might fit. The lever works two ways: hook it onto the rim hook with the head underneath the tire bead and slide around to remove the tire. Or, hook it on the rim with the head up against the outside of the tire bead to install the tire.
These levers hook into the rim very easily and admittedly it took me a few attempts to get the levers off the rim once they were hooked. Following the instructions online, you can also use several Prestalevers to remove a stubborn tire by inserting 2-3 levers 6-inches apart and “flipping” each, one at a time.
The company also has some crazy ideas about using nitrogen to inflate bike tires and the arguments for doing so are fairly convincing. It turns out regular air tends to seep through the rubber in bike tubes and tires but nitrogen alone is far less permeable. Not only that, over time the oxygen in air oxidizes bike parts and tends to dry out sealants. Nitrogen also keeps a more consistent pressure over various temperatures, making it easier to dial in a specific pressure and keep it there. If you’re ready to start experimenting with nitrogen-filled MTB tires, Prestacycle has a few portable products to help you air up.
Bike tools tend to be overlooked as the pace of innovation speeds up in the mountain bike world but these products from Prestacycle show there’s still room for big improvements. Having the right tools for the job just makes being a home mechanic that much easier.
Thanks to Prestacycle for providing these tools for review.