I am looking for an air compressor and wish to get one which is not under or over powered.

I am looking at one in a catalogue which has the following attributes:

40 Litres/min free air delivery
1hp motor
Direct drive design (what ever that means)
8 Litre tank capacity

I wish to fill tyres at home for my hybrid bikes and mountain bikes up to 60PSI. I will be using a product call "Prestaflator", which is the air trigger with guage and presta valve connector.

I am not asking about floor pumps.

  • 1
    Prestaflator has a link to recommended compressors and info on how to choose one: prestacycle.com/air_compressors.php (Personally, I just use a quality floor pump.)
    – user313
    Dec 19, 2011 at 18:44
  • Would you consider editing the question to focus more on the desirable properties of air compressors? Right now it is worded in a way that seems to request recommendations for specific products.
    – amcnabb
    Apr 3, 2013 at 19:54
  • Look in to a Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Power Inflator. They are portable, battery powered, like a power drill. I've heard it works fine for seating tubeless tires as well.
    – Benzo
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:11
  • @Benzo gold! good price even without the battery. It is only schrader but there are adaptors you can get.
    – Valamas
    Jan 18, 2017 at 21:41

3 Answers 3


The liters/minute capacity of a compressor says nothing about it's max pressure. Most compressors intended for air tool use are good to about 100psi, maybe 120, but you need to make sure before you spend your money -- the compressor needs to do maybe 30% higher pressure than your "target" pressure, or you'll be forever waiting for the tires to fill.

But as others have said, a good floor pump is probably easier to use than the compressor.

("Direct drive" means there's no belt, which is not necessarily a good thing, but common for "compact" compressors.)

  • 2
    It does say how fast it will inflate a tire though. A mountain bike with 26*2 inch tires (660 mm * 50 mm) will (using pi*r^2 * length) have a volume of pi * 25^2*660 mm = 1295250 cubic millimeters which according to google is 1.295 litres. So at 40 litres per minute you could fill the tire from empty in 1.94 seconds. Of course the rating is for free air, without actually having any pressure, bu I'm pretty sure the tire would be filled extremely quickly, and possibly blow out, event if it didn't you'd have to overinflate then deflate to get the right pressure.
    – Kibbee
    Dec 19, 2011 at 14:28
  • 2
    If the compressor will only do 55psi then it will never successfully fill the tire. And a compressor of sufficient pressure with an 8 liter tank will fill a bike tire equally fast regardless of how fast it pumps. Dec 19, 2011 at 21:42
  • I use a 6 gallon pancake style compressor that can reach 150PSI and use it with a prestaflator. It can get a road tire up to 100psi with no problem in a few seconds. It's way overkill for doing just bike tires (but I also have some pneumatic tools which run off it). If you got 2 Gallon capacity or larger, you should be fine.
    – Benzo
    Feb 25, 2014 at 14:33

Don't bother with an air compressor. Get a proper bike pump. They are cheaper, and will fill a tire to 60 psi with minimal effort. A good bike pump will also require less maintenance. Also it'll only take a couple pumps to top up your tires. Much less time than to drag out a big air compressor. Have you had problems with standard floor/track pumps? What is your reasoning for getting an air compressor over using a bike pump?

  • 6
    Isn't the problem then "why do my tyres to deflate?" Or am I missing something?
    – Adrian
    Dec 19, 2011 at 8:13
  • 3
    @Valamas -- Maybe you've never tried a good floor pump. Dec 19, 2011 at 12:06
  • 3
    I agree with @Adrian. The problem is that your tires are deflating. Unless you only use the bike once a month, then they shouldn't be deflating in between uses. If you only use it once a month, that's normal deflation. Using an air compressor won't stop the tires from deflating between rides. Also, air compressors, unless especially made for bicycles usually push a very high volume of air, leading to not being able to easily control the pressure. With many compressors, you could possibly blow the tire out in a few seconds, especially if they are rated to a pressure higher than your tire.
    – Kibbee
    Dec 19, 2011 at 13:47
  • 1
    This is the correct answer. An air compressor is overkill. A good floor pump is cheaper, more convenient, easier to operate, will inflate tubes with both presta and schraeder valves, and will operate without fail for decades. Pumping a tire to even 120PSI is something even a child could do with a proper floor pump — it takes no significant amount of strength, effort, or leverage. Dec 19, 2011 at 19:42
  • 2
    @kibbee -- An air compressor with the proper outlet pressure regulator would be in no danger of blowing out the tire. The volume makes no difference, since that's "buffered" by the tank. Dec 19, 2011 at 21:46

Personally I also prefer the floor pump, but, sometimes I use a car tire emergency compressor. It Connects to the cicarrete lighter plug, and it is slow, but a bike tire has such small volume that it can be easily imflated in 3-4 minutes from zero, almost the same time that whould take with an average old floor pump, but almost zero effort from the operator. I have tried many brands, and for bike tires all of them worked fine and all were capable of 60psi+.

This can be an option that saves you space, these kind of "compressors" are really compact.

I really would advise you out of tankless compressors meant for paint jobs or aerograph use, they usually are not powerfull enough. Inflators meant for beach imflatables or balloons are not an option either, they have even less power.

I have a small 3.5 gallon compresor (the tank is small, the motor is the same as a bigger, profesional model of the same brand) that is fine for even car's tires, it's really fast on bike tires, but since I don't have permanent workshop facilities, storing the compressor awary after each use takes longer than the tire imflation, and takes a bigger effort, so I ended preffering the floor pump. (Use the compressor just for air tools). It also makes tremendous noise so it bothers neighbors and other household companions (It's not rare for me to imflate bike tires really early in the morning or really late at night). Other point to consider is adding the compressor's maintenance to your agenda.

So take these in consideration, you may purchase a bigger hassle just in order to inflate bike tires. A floor pump, a hand pump, a foot pump are all very compact and portable and are powered by you, therefore more ecologic. They are almost noiseless. Also, if you bike for execise, pumping helps for the warm-up ;)

  • I've had a lot of trouble with the flimsy plastic lever on the schraeder valve snapping on the 12V tyre inflators - they're designed to a budget slightly less than that required to make them useful, and they're pitifully slow to any decent pressure. My floor pump is much quicker, I should race one against my road morph, that would probably win as well.
    – Chris H
    Feb 25, 2014 at 16:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.