Pumping up tires at home is fairly easy. For my bikes, I have a big manual pump. Sure, it’s a bit of a workout if a bike tire is really low, especially for fat tire e-bikes. To get around this, and to make it possible to inflate a car tire in a reasonable timeframe, many people get a small air compressor and keep it in their garage. You can’t really take that with you on a bike ride, though. Or can you? Fanttik’s X8 APEX air compressor changes the rules of the game.
The X8 APEX itself is really simple. It’s a black box with USB ports on one end, and a threaded hole for air and a flashlight on the other. On the side, there’s a directional pad and a screen that’s big and beautiful like the one on the EVO 300 solar generator. It also comes with a bag to carry it in, with room for the air hose and a separate pouch for Presta and needle adapters (the air hose has a Schrader valve built-in).
To charge the unit up, plug it in using a phone or tablet charger that has a USB-C plug. A full charge can inflate 4 car tires (probably more if they aren’t going from empty to full), 13 bike tires, at least a half-dozen motorcycle or fat tire bike tires, or dozens of basketballs. You can charge the unit up at home or in the car, or with a small solar panel if you can find one with USB-C charging (not included).
With the unit charged up, you attach the air hose by threading it into the brass threaded hole on the other end. Then, attach it to the tire or ball using the other end of the hose or an adapter if needed. Press the power button for two seconds, use the arrow keys to select the air pressure you want, and then short-press the power button to start pumping air. A small bike tire or basketball will inflate in a minute or so from flat, but you don’t have to hold it or pump it, so it’s not as slow as it sounds at first. A car tire can take up to 5 minutes, but once again, you don’t have to stand there while it pumps. Once it gets to the pressure you set it for, it automatically shuts off.
I don’t play basketball or football, so I can’t vouch for how well that works, but based on pumping up a couple of e-bike fat tires in about a minute and a half, I’m pretty confident that you’d have no problems doing that. Car tires would obviously take longer, but it’s pretty clear that doing that would work, too.
The display not only shows your goal tire pressure, but the current pressure above that so you can see how things are going during the inflation process.
Why A Battery-Powered Air Compressor Is An Important Cleantech Tool
Keeping tires properly inflated is more important than ever with electric vehicles. Low tires on an electric car can seriously eat into the car’s range. Micromobility, like e-bikes and scooters, can leave you stranded if their tubes suffer a puncture. For cars, gas stations almost all have an air pump that you can pay for, and you can often find free air if you know which gas stations to look at. For bikes, anybody who has done much riding knows that getting a flat is inevitable, so it’s wise to carry a small pump along for most rides.
Because the X8 APEX is about the size of a Coke bottle (the 1/2 liter or 20-ounce kind), it’s pretty easy to bring along on any vehicle with tires. It can fit in a bike bag or in a small toolbox on a utility bike’s rack or basket. It can fit in a backpack, a larger purse, or a toolbox in a car.
For an electric car, this means you can top up a low tire anywhere. If you’re out on the highway, and need maximum EV range to get to the next charging station, you could easily add some air on the side of the road or at a rest area. Even gas-powered cars and hybrids can benefit from better gas mileage instead of limping along and polluting more on a low tire.
For bikes, this beats the hell out of a small manual pump or CO2 inflater. Small portable bike pumps are a real pain in the butt to use. They’re the wrong size, don’t pump much air with each push, and are generally hard to work with. CO2 inflators are small and compact, but they leak CO2 directly into the atmosphere and use a one-time-use cartridge. A battery-powered compressor is not only easier to work with, but can be used over and over with minimal climate impact.
On wilderness adventures (not off-road in designated wilderness, where bikes are not allowed), being able to recharge the compressor using a solar panel is also a handy feature that could save the day and keep loads a little lighter.
Nothing is perfect, and the X8 APEX is no exception.
First off, you can’t leave it in the car. Lithium batteries are great for energy density, and make this product possible, but they can’t handle the kind of heat that they’d encounter if you left them in the car, especially in summer. So, you’ll want to bring it inside with you to keep it from getting cooked. For a bike, that’s not a big deal, but for a car, it’s one more thing you have to think to grab on the way out the door. This means it will probably only come along with people on road trips.
The other problem? It’s pretty slow compared to a big air compressor like you can buy for home use or find at gas stations. If you have access to one of those, you’ll probably want to use those for your car. For a bicycle, going to a gas station isn’t much of a time saver.
Final Thoughts on the Fanttik X8 APEX
Like I said, this was a review unit that I get to keep, but unlike the many power stations I get, I’m not giving this to family. This one’s going with me on bike rides and road trips. I’m even looking at buying a second one for my wife to use. For around $120 at Amazon, it’s a no-brainer compared to messing around with a little bike pump on the side of a trail or bike path. Even when we’re not using it for inflating tires, it doubles as a power bank for phones and tablets, so it’s a pretty clear winner.
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