by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
The Specialized AirTool Pro floor air pump is built like a brick, uh, outhouse.
It's also expensive as all get-out.
But this is the floor pump used by "Pro" level bicyclists.
Or so I'm told...
Only problem? The head or chuck that fits on the Schrader valve is nearly as big as my fist.
That makes it nearly impossible to fit over the valve stem on most motorcycle wheels.
The solution? A couple of bucks and some "elbow grease" made the AirTool Pro worthy of its name.
I found this Specialized AirTool Pro floor air pump in a local bicycle shop some time ago.
One push on the handle and I knew this thing was built like a tank. It's completely unlike any other floor air pump I've owned.
But ouch, that price! It lists at $120.00 (although you can now occasionally find one around $70.00). The bike shop had it discounted to $90.00.
Yeah, I'm a sucker for punishment so in the interest of science and
the webBikeWorld readership, I pulled out the credit card and the
AirTool Pro was mine.
As soon as I pulled into the garage, I had to try the new pump on a motorcycle tire.
Uh-oh right away -- I suddenly discovered just how really, really big the pump head on this beast really is.
I don't know why they had to make the dang thing so big; the chuck head on my Topeak Joe Blow Sprint (review) from 2004 is nowhere near this size (and by the way, I still use that pump on a regular basis for bicycles, cars, trucks and yes -- motorcycles).
The only bike I could find that works with the AirTool Pro head is the 1986 BMW R65 with the second-gen cast wheels.
There's just enough room to fit the pump head with the open lock, as you can see in the photo.
Discussing this later on with the bicycle shop owner, he agreed that the pump head on the AirTool Pro is way too big and won't even fit on some bicycle wheels.
So, I put my thinking cap on and after some time, I was finally able to figure out a fairly easy and very cheap way to solve the "big head" problem as you'll see below.
But first, let's take a gander at the specs.
One thing's for sure: the AirTool Pro really puts out the goods.
My measurements show that it puts out about 0.5 PSI for each stroke, which means just 5 strokes will squeeze about 2.5 PSI into a typical 120/70-17 front motorcycle tire.
That's about twice the per-stroke output of the Topeak Joe Blow, which makes sense because the tube on the AirTool Pro has a larger diameter and longer stroke.
Specialized lists the AirTool Pro output as 360 cc of air per stroke and a max pressure of 150 PSI (10.3 bar).
This is a very hefty floor air pump, with a base and tube made from cast aluminum.
The big foot pads are molded as part of the base; they don't fold up or down and they act as a very sturdy base for the 65 cm tall (25.5 inches) pump.
They're also covered with a sandpaper-like coating that provides a generous amount of grip.
The pump weighs in at 2.36 kg (4 lbs., 8 oz.), which is more than twice the Topeak Joe Blow, so that cast aluminum must be pretty thick.
That weight is what gives the AirTool Pro its "Pro" feel and it also helps direct all of your pumping power into creating pressure.
You sure don't have to worry about the pump body moving around with this one...
The AirTool Pro also has a big built-in pressure gauge on the base, but I calculate that it's off by about 3 PSI when compared to my ol' reliable Accu-Gage manual tire pressure gauge.
But the big dial on the AirTool Pro helps (slightly) to get an accurate read of the gauge when I'm manning the pump. If only it was more accurate...
(My feeling is that the pump manufacturers would be better off saving money by forgetting about trying to add a dial pressure gauge, because I've never found one that's both accurate and readable.)
The AirTool Pro also has a nice, big, thick plastic handle with a pressure relief button in the center to bleed off the air in the tube when you're done pumping.
The handle is easy to grasp and the pump action is smooth and accurate with a good feel.
In short, it's the smoothest and fastest floor pump I've ever used...and I've used a whole bunch of 'em in my lifetime!
After I realized that the pump head or chuck was way too big to fit inside a motorcycle wheel, the AirTool Pro was sadly relegated to auto duty.
In the meantime, I continued to think of something that would solve the problem.
Searching around, I purchased and tried a couple of different motorcycle tire floor air pump air hose assemblies, thinking I could replace the hose/head unit on the AirTool Pro.
But I couldn't find one with threads to match the Specialized pump; apparently they're using a non-standard (for floor air pumps anyway) thread system.
Then one day recently I was in a local hardware store and stumbled upon a sub-5-buck solution.
I bought a cheap tapered threaded air compressor hose adapter and what has turned out to be a very useful clip-on air hose chuck (see photo).
I then proceeded to cut the hose on the AirTool Pro to eliminate the huge chuck head. I heated the air hose with a heat gun to make it pliable and then I shoved the tapered adapter inside (not easy to do, but eventually it slid all the way in to the hose).
I then used some Teflon tape around the new chuck and screwed it on to the AirTool Pro base.
TIP: slide a small hose clamp on the hose first, before you insert the adapter.
Honestly, I had my doubts -- this was too easy a fix! But I tried it on a couple of bikes and it works great! In fact, I'd say this air chuck works better than any other I've tried.
The clip-on chuck is easy to use and stays attached to the Schrader valve stem. I can then leave it be and use two hands to operate the pump.
A few up-and-downs on the pump handle and I'm done. Really nice.
The Specialized AirTool Pro is -- hopefully -- a "last a lifetime" floor air pump. There's no doubt about it, this thing is a beast, worthy of the "Pro" name.
Also, in case you haven't noticed, this is obviously for garage use only; you're not going to carry this in your tank bag.
And by the way, I have read a few reviews from owners claiming that the inner gaskets on their AirTool Pro pump wore out too quickly.
I've had no such problem and I use this pump all the time for bikes, trailers and other vehicles, like my wife's big Silverado pickup truck and horse trailer.
And besides, rebuild kits are available from Specialized, just in case.
So if you're a manual air pump fan like me -- and you check your motorcycle tire pressure before each ride (also like me) -- then it may be time to spend the big bucks and get yourself a "built like they used to make 'em" floor air pump that's a pleasure to use.
Unfortunately, Amazon.com doesn't carry the Specialized AirTool Pro, but you should be able to find one at your local bicycle shop.
A small shop near my house has about 8 of them in all different colors for sale, so these must be pretty popular with bicycle owners.
Just remember that you'll have to make the modification described above for it to work on a motorcycle.
|wBW Review: Specialized AirTool Pro Floor Air Pump|
|Manufacturer: Specialized||List Price (2017): $120.00|
|Colors: Red, Yellow, Polished, Blue.||Made In: Taiwan|
|Review Date: May 2017|
From "J.D." (May 2017): "80 clams gets me a Craftsman 3 gallon portable compressor with accessories."
Rick's Reply: Yeahbut…then you have to plug it in, use electricity and wait for the air reservoir tank to fill up before you can use it. Plus, you can’t throw it in the back of the pickup to use when you’re trailering the dirt bike!
And you don’t get any exercise!
From "S.S." (May 2017): "Not $5, but here's another air chuck solution. 2" clearance required."