One of the most unpleasant things I can think of is getting a flat on my way to work. I’m quite careful when it comes to tire maintenance, so I’ve only ever had to deal with a flat during my commute once.
Since it’s always better to be safe than sorry, I always carry a spare tube, a patch kit and a mini pump with me on my commutes as well as on my weekend rides with friends or family.
The folks at Cycplus reached out to me sent me the A2 electric air pump for review recently. This is a portable air compressor, which I was very excited about. I wanted to find out if it was good enough to replace my mini pump.
You can check out the A2 portable pump on the Cycplus website. If you decide to purchase a unit, I get a small percentage without you having to pay more.
I’ve used it for a few weeks and have inflated a bunch of things with it, including several bike tires.
Here are the highlights of the Cycplus A2:
- It can inflate a tire up to 150psi
- It has a built-in battery capable of inflating about 6 bike tires
- It can be used as a power bank (500 mAh)
- It has a small built-in light
- The pressure can be pre-set and it switches off when it’s reached
- It has a built-in pressure gauge
- You can select the following units on the display: PSI, BAR, Kpa, Kgf/cm2.
- Charging time is 2-3 hours via mini USB port
- Bicycle mount to hold it on the frame
- It comes with a bunch of adapters to inflate Presta, Scharder valves as well as various types of balls
Having used it for several weeks in various scenarios, let me report back to you on how the Cycplus lives up to these promises and more importantly, whether it is worth the 45 dollar price it’s currently selling for.
Let’s cut to the chase, since the most important function a pump needs to fulfil is to fill up tires.
My tires need to be inflated to 80 – 100 psi, which is 50 – 70 psi short of the promised 150. I’m happy to see that 100 psi is not a problem for this compressor. I can inflate my 700cx32 tires from 0 to 80 psi in 60 seconds. This is a big step forward from my mini pump, which could only generate a maximum pressure of about 40 psi, and took over 2 minutes to do the job.
It’s not even the time saving that I care about so much, but rather about the high PSI that this pump can generate. Unless you own a high-end mini pump, you won’t be able to fill your tire completely.
Ease of operation
There are four buttons on the Cycplus A2 which allow you to access all the features. All of them have two functions depending on whether you press it short or long.
Inflating the tire is very simple. I was able to figure it out without reading the instruction manual. You can select the desired measurement unit
The Cycplus A2 has a built-in accurate pressure gauge with an electric display, which is definitely very easy to read.
You set the pressure you want to inflate your tire to with the + and – keys, and a short press of the power button starts the compressor. The pump stops by itself when it reaches the pressure you set.
I have found that it consistently overinflates the tire by about 2.5 PSI according to its own measurement, which is not a big deal since most of the time some air escapes from the tire when you detach the hose. Besides, I can always set the pressure to 2.5 PSI lower than what I want.
You can inflate MTB tires with Schrader valves or even Presta valves with the help of the included adapter.
In several tests I was able to inflate 6 bicycle tires without any problems, which is more than sufficient for me as a bike commuter. I will run out of inner tubes and patches before I run out of air.
The battery life also depends on the pressure you are aiming for. The higher pressure you’re after, the more the pump needs to work and the shorter the battery life.
Apparently, you can fill a car tire with a full battery, but I haven’t tried this. It may be handy to get you out of trouble and get you to the nearest gas station, but you’re probably better off keeping something more powerful in your car.
There is a battery indicator on the display letting you know how much charge is left in the battery, so you know if it’s time to recharge it. Mine charges from zero to full in about 2 hours via the included USB cable.
The Cycplus A2 can be used as a power bank as well, which is a handy and thoughtful feature to have. The 500 mAh isn’t much, but it can give your phone a little boost, which is just enough to make a few calls. I wouldn’t count on it as my main power bank, since an electric pump with no power left when it’s needed is as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.
If you forget to switch off the unit after you’re done using it, the operation times out in a minute or two so as to save battery.
Size, portability and practicality
The Cycplus A2 is larger and heavier than a mini pump.
It weighs 370 grams including the hose, which is more than three times as heavy as my mini pump. It’s not something that you put in your jersey pocket for your weekend ride, but you can put it in your backpack or pannier and keep it there unless you already struggle to fit everything in there.
The Cycplus A2 gets an extra point for practicality for having a small built-in light. You only realize how handy this can be if you get a flat or a mechanical issue at night on an unlit road.
The A2 is a very exciting product and it’s truly impressive. It’s not something that you must have and can’t commute without, but its capability of pumping several tires to high pressures, its accurate pressure gauge and its capacity to inflate to predetermined pressures make it a very handy tool in a commuter’s arsenal.
If you’re a techy, you will love it as much as I do. I never wish ill to anyone, but I’m excited to whip it out of my bag one day to help someone who needs some air in the tire. I think it’s well worth the 45 dollars that it sells for, and if I didn’t have one already, I’d be happy to purchase it.
Am I ready to leave my mini pump at home?
I have been using this air compressor for nearly a month and I’ve been really impressed by how capable it is. Since it’s still a novelty, I have always made sure that I charged it after each use. I’m not sure how well the battery holds charge over time. Sometimes months go by without me touching my minipump at all and I know that – as imperfect as it is – it’s always ready for action. I think I’m going to keep it with me as a backup tool for now. At least for a while.