From the sublime to the mundane, we cover it all.
I had a recent inquiry about what air gauge I use with my Mukluk. As with all gear purchases, my route to the perfect tire gauge was not straight.
I started out just using the gauge on my Serfas floor pump. That works fine for a new rider, but the limits were soon found. I can now tell you that my floor pump doesn’t accurately meter the difference between 95 psi and 110 psi–the reading will vary depending on how forcefully you’re pumping up your tires. That’s a pretty substantial difference, with a huge impact on handling. Equally as importantly, it won’t accurately meter between 25 psi and 30psi on the Superfish, much less between 7psi and 9psi on the Mukluk.
I really wanted an analog, mechanical gauge. After trying several with no good results (including 2 that were “especially designed for fat bikes”, I was starting to give up hope. That’s when I came across the SKS Airchecker.
Yes, it’s battery powered. That’s the bad news. That’s the only bad news. The original battery has now lasted the full 10 months that I’ve had it, checking tons of tires quite frequently. It measures in PSI and BAR, if you’re so inclined; in PSI, it measures in 0.5psi increments.
The head rotates 180 degrees, so you can either point the orifice to the side, towards the gauge face, or away from the gauge face. Handy.
And if you’re over pressure, there’s a built in deflator button, to let off some air.
Of note…the gauge only takes one measurement per pressurization. In other words, you unscrew a presta valve, stick the SKS on, and it will beep once it measures the pressure. To recheck the pressure, you have to take the SKS off the valve and let it depressurize. Then, put it back on the valve, and recheck.
That’s the only downside. If you measure pressure and want to bleed some off, you can do so, but you have to remove and remount the gauge to recheck the pressure, post-bleed. It just pops on and off (no threading on), so it isn’t a big hassle.
I like the SKS because it works. Always. Reliably. Repeatably. Cold, hot, wet, whatever. It works. I’ve used caution in avoiding getting Stans sealant into it, and I’d recommend you do so as well…not sure how it would react to that. But it works great…and it is accurate even down into the single pressure digits I run on the Mukluk. Last winter, I was running 4psi in the Big Fat Larry up front. The SKS did a great job of accurately measuring that pressure, and was consistent in its results. Even better, it’s cheap–about $25.
I’ve had mine in a backpack while going over the bars, left it rattling around in a toolbox when driving to race events and rides, dropped it on the concrete floor in my garage more times than I can count, and otherwise used it like you’d expect. It’s proved to be resilient and flawlessly functional. The backlit display is easy to use in all lighting conditions (including night). I haven’t used it with Schrader valves, but it is supposed to work well with them (and has a head to use for that purpose). There’s really nothing to improve on the SKS–it functions perfectly.