Tools Of The Trade
Jan 1, 2021
article & images by Nick Salazar
Welcome to 2021! I cannot think of a single person who is glad to put 2020 behind us. To ring in the new year, here's a little article about a few staple items used around here at TriRig Headquarters. These are some relatively simple items that just make the day a little better. And after the year we've just had, small doses of 'better' sound like a very welcome change. First up, a small twist on the way we in flate tires around here.
Silca x Ridgid Frankenpump
We have written several articles about Pumps and Inflation. One consistent theme among those articles is how much we love Silca products. They are precision-made parts that do their job, and that's exactly what makes them a staple at TriRig HQ. They are the antithesis of, and the cure for, the crappy pump or pump head on your $15 bargain-basement bike pump. You'll pay a pretty sight more, and you'll get value back on that investment.
But one thing I've always wanted was a good electronic solution to pumping up a tire. Surely we can figure this out. About ten years ago I purchased a battery-powered hand-held inflator that looked something like a drill. This was a Li-Ion powered product from a big-name tool manufacturer that will remain nameless. The inflator promised to hit 100psi. It promised to inflate both car and bike tire alike. It lied. It was a monumental failure. And after that green monstrosity went to the trash heap, I gave up hope that battery-powered inflation was viable.
Then a little while ago, when I was in the market for a small air compressor for a home furniture project, I came across some more modern products in the same category. I figured that since a decade had passed, it would be fair to give this tech another shot. I selected one made by Ridgid. Why? Only because I already own a couple tools that use the same 18v battery pack. There are similar ones made by Ryobi, or Makita, if that is your universe of tools. I just happen to be in the Ridgid camp because of a drill purchase I made long ago.
Out of the box, I was surprised to find a very nice rubber hose with a nylon-braided cover. Already an upgrade from the bare rubber hose of the previous one. The "quick-connect chuck" was functional, but pretty crappy. I was able to get it to seal on my Silca Presta head, but the all-plastic construction of this chuck did not inspire confidence. So I cut it off with a sharp pair of scissors, cauterized the frayed end of the nylon with a lighter, and proceeded to upgrade the chuck. I used a Silca's barbed chuck. These are shown as sold out on Silca's site, but you can find them in stock elsewhere on the web. I happen to have a few tucked away for projects exactly like this. Finally went on a small hose clamp, which cost less than a dollar from the local hardware store.
The result is a handheld inflator that will work on every bike in the house, the cars, even the sports equipment. And I have a ton of batteries for it, so I shouldn't ever be caught out having to wait for a charge. This thing is AWESOME and is already in heavy rotation in the home for all kinds of things. I usually have it with the Presta Head on as shown here, but the Schraeder chuck means we can attach pretty much anything. I swap out for the Silca Hiro or Disc Chuck for tight-space inflation (like disc wheels), but most of the time it's just on Presta mode. One big advantage here is that since inflation is a one-handed operation, your other hand is free to hold the chuck on your valve, ensuring it is seated and happy.
I don't have any objective data to prove out the accuracy of the pressure gauge, but it was in line with the readings I got from both my Silca Ultimate pump, as well as the internal pressure sensor gauges of two different cars (a Tesla Model 3 and a Tesla Model Y, respectively).
So, with all that in mind, this is my go-to pump setup for pretty much everything. You can snag the Ridgid Digital Inflator from your local hardware store, and the Silca bits from Silca.cc. Hit the jump and we're on to my favorite new apparel accessory.