Review: Specialized Fuel Cell, Reserve Rack, Air Tool
article & images by Andrew Strauss
Nov 4, 2014
Specialized's Air Tool Compak is designed to be a small floor pump that is easy to travel with and take on adventures. I have in general not been fond of small pumps due to the increased effort needed to fill a tire, but was pleasantly surprised by this product.
The pump has a locking removable handle that attaches to the side of the pump for storage. It is removed or attached by pushing a silver button in the center of the handle. This secures everything during transport and use. I found this button to be slightly tough to use at times, but not too bad. The top of the pump has a grove to route the hose over the top when the handle isn't in use. This keeps the hose from rattling around, as well as keeping the pump shaft from sliding out during transport. There is a clip on the side of the pump to hold the hose in place. The legs fold in as well, making the pump quite streamlined.
The pump's head has a reversible tip that can be used with either thread-on Presta or Schrader valves. I found the tip to be easy enough to use, and perfectly acceptable for such a compact pump.
One of my favorite features of the pump is the inline pressure gauge. Near the head, there is a long gauge that I didn't even notice until I used the pump for the first time. As pressure increases, a red strip extends to show you the current amount of pressure. I verified pressure with a Topeak D2 Smart Gauge digital pressure gauge, and found the pump's gauge to be accurate to within 3-7 PSI on my tri bike when filling to 110 PSI. When filling my mountain bike to 40 PSI, it was accurate to within 2-5 PSI. And there was the potential for some air loss when removing the pump and then using the pressure gauge. I found this level of accuracy to be more than sufficient for this type of pump, and the gauge was a very nice feature to have built into the pump.
Another interesting feature is the ability to store spare parts in the handle. The pump comes with 2 tire levers and some stick on patches in that space. I would have preferred to see some tools as well. I find myself checking the tightness of various bolts and adjusting things before every ride, whereas I patch tubes much less frequently. I generally do my patching at home, and just swap out tubes on the road. Tools would have thus been much more useful for me, but your habits may differ from mine.
My biggest fear with a pump this small was the amount of effort needed to fill a tire, or bring it to a high PSI. I had no problem on either front. Filling a standard road tire to around 100 PSI was easy enough. And getting a tubular tire up to 140 PSI was also not a problem. Using a standard floor pump will unquestionably be easier than this type of compact pump, but I was pleased by how small the difference was. The effort needed was close enough to a standard floor pump, and MUCH easier than a mini frame pump.
The Air Tool Compak comes with a nice padded case, which makes me less worried about it rattling around in the back of my car. I find myself much more willing to take it with me as opposed to my standard floor pump.
Since I started using the Air Tool Compak, my general practice when driving to a city away from home to bike has been to fill up at home with my standard floor pump, and then bringing the Air Tool Compak in the car with me to top off the tires while on the road. I don't use it as much as my standard floor pump, but like having the Air Tool Compak with me while traveling. It has come in handy several times already, and is MUCH easier to use than a tiny frame pump. I like it a lot more than I expected, and intended to keep it as part of my travel kit. If you don't mind traveling with a standard floor pump, then I would stick with that. But if you want to save some space, the Air Tool Compak is a great option.
Very nice travel pump with some well though-out features
The Specialized Fuel Cell is a Shiv specific storage system designed to mate perfectly to the frame and not add any frontal area to the bike. Specialized goes so far as to say that its design reduces drag.
The Specialized Reserve Rack is a mounting system that allows one to carry a single saddle bottle as well as some inflation accessories. The product comes with three pieces: a mount that attaches to your saddle rails, a wing that will carry inflation accessories, and an optional Rib Cage.
Air Tool Compak
Specialized's Air Tool Compak is designed to be a small floor pump that is easy to travel with and take on adventures.