- Excellent quality
- Comfortable, ergonomic shaping
- Impressive for its size
- Can't do high pressures
The SKS Airboy XL mini-pump is excellent quality, can handle up to 73psi, and fits easily into a pack or jersey pocket. Its efficient action makes it ideal for high volume, low pressure gravel and mountain bike tyres, and for the price it's a strong choice.
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The quality and finish of the Airboy XL is impressive. The body has a smooth anodised finish, the plastic end caps feel sturdy and the action is smooth even after prolonged use. The size and shape is comfortable too, while the rubber pad on the end adds welcome cushion whilst pumping.
The XL comes set for Presta valves, but can be changed to Schrader by simply unscrewing the head and flipping an insert over.
The Airboy XL is a mini-pump – it's 18cm compressed – but thanks to the clever design of the double compression system, it acts like a much bigger pump. Faced with a 2.3" wide Specialized Butcher 29er, it took 300 strokes (about three minutes) to pump the tyre from flat to 21psi. That's more than acceptable in my books.
During this test the pump didn’t heat up much, and while the last 50 strokes or so were noticeably harder, it was never unreasonable. It is claimed the pump can go to 73psi, which makes it unsuitable for road, but it's ideal for mountain bike and gravel bike use.
At a claimed 90g it's unobtrusive in a jersey pocket or pack, and it comes with a sturdy bottle cage mount if you prefer it attached to the bike.
At £27 the Airboy XL represents decent value for money, though there's some hot competition – the Truflo MiniMTN High Volume mini-pump is £25 and great for high volume tyres, although it's a little bulkier. The Topeak Pocket Rocket is a cheaper still at £20, but not as clever.
The SKS Airboy XL is a well built and well designed mini-pump which performs above expectations. It is well priced and easily portable – it's an ideal trailside pump for gravel and mountain bikes.