If you’ve been around ’cross races more than twice you’ve heard the distinctive noise of a hand-held inflator.
Hand-held inflators came into fashion in roughly 2009. A common one in ’cross tool kits is the Craftsman Cordless Inflator. However, the Craftsman unit has been discontinued and is hard to come by these days, especially at a reasonable price.
Audew has a similar model in the Cordless Air Compressor for sale and is trying to make inroads in the cycling community. The company sent a unit to put to use inflating tires during the past cyclocross season.
Read on for a review of the Audew unit—and more on the hose conversion I did.
As a note, since the Craftsman has been the standard, I’ll reference it often in this review.
The Audew Cordless Air Compressor
The Audew has both a battery and option to run from a power port in your car (formerly known as a cigarette lighter). The battery will work just fine for race situations. I fully charged mine, let the ’cross practice use it for two weeks and stored it in a garage during that time, and the charge lasted just fine.
The charging cable is a proprietary USB cable which makes it a bit more convenient than the two-prong wall socket DieHard battery charger used by the Craftsman.
Overall, the Audew is pretty light at 754g, which is about half the weight of the Craftsman inflator, making it a really portable unit. Speaking of which, while I couldn’t find specs on the Craftsman DieHard 19.2 Lithium-Ion battery, it weighs twice as much as the Audew battery.
Given its size, the Craftsman presumably offers more battery life.
There’s a battery gauge on the Audew, but it’s a tad flaky in that it gives one reading until the unit is operating, at which point the gauge dips a bit. My policy has always been to charge my Craftsman before a race weekend or every other weekend, and that’s a habit I will maintain with the Audew.
The Audew is not as cleanly convertible to Presta as the Craftsman. The valve end of the hose is a thread-on Schrader receptor and the compressor end is very proprietary as well.
I went with a simple cut of the hose and inserted another chuck. It’s sloppy looking, but it works. I’d suggest using a hose clamp to secure it as well.
The Presta chuck I used was from a Park Tools pump. I previously used it for a Craftsman conversion project.
I reached out to Audew about the Presta valve issues. The company replied, “And about the Presta valve, I’m sorry that it might need to prepare the adapters by yourself to switch Presta valve and Schrader at the moment. According to the feedback, we will prepare these Presta to Schrader valve adapters in our package. But it will need some times to do that. ”
As for how the modification affects the warranty, making the change will likely leave you holding the bag. “AUDEW offers 12 months 100% FREE manufacturer warranty & 180 days replacement & 90 days refund (Nonartificial damage) & 24 hours friendly customer service.”
Impressions from the Field
The operation of the pump is very different than the Craftsman and was an immediate source of consternation at ’cross practice. I would definitely take some time at home to familiarize yourself with how it works before heading to a race with it.
You have to hit a button to turn the unit on. If you have the chuck on the valve the unit will display the current pressure, which is a nice touch. From there the trigger acts as an on/off switch. Pull once to turn the unit on, pull again to turn it off. You can also preset a pressure at which the unit will turn off. You can’t goose the trigger to get that last tenth of a psi like you can with the Craftsman.
That being said, I think in practice it works just as well. I very much like that it shows current pressure before inflating and once you learn the new method of operation, the pump is great to use. The screen is large and backlit, which is nice.
Flow rate seems the same between the Audew and the Craftsman. Inflating a Donnelly PDX tubular from zero to 33.5 psi took 21 seconds with both units. The gauges between the two read spot on as well. I haven’t had a chance to validate either unit against a known good gauge like Silca, Lezyne or Kappius. That said, the Craftsman strikes me as having been accurate for many years. I have used it as my tire pressure standard for years.
What’s the audience for this product? Anyone with multiple wheels to inflate will appreciate this. I wouldn’t use it if I had one bike with one set of wheels. Personally, I have eight wheels and it’s nice to standardize pressure across wheels. This would also be great for teams that usually bring five pumps to every race.
It’s been very handy at ’cross practice since most people ride over, drop 20 psi to shred corners, but then reinflate to ride back home. At $60, the price point also makes it a bit more palatable as well. The Craftsman, when you could buy it, cost twice as much as the Audew unit.
I haven’t had a chance to test long-term durability. I am curious if the weight reduction means a decreased lifespan. But given that the Craftsman costs much more and is no longer available, it’s a moot point. Given the price and utility, I’d be fine with wearing one out every few years.
All in all it’s a great unit. It’s easy to charge and transport and it functions well, inflating tires once you learn its quirks. The gauge is much easier to read than the Craftsman.
I’ll be interested to see how it holds up in a year or two, but really for the price, I would be okay with getting two years of use out of the unit. If you’re looking for a Craftsman alternative this is a great unit to look at.
Audew Cordless Air Compressor Specs
Max Pressure: 150psi
Power: Battery pack, 12V; USB charger
More Info: audew.com