SKS Aircon 6.0 and Airbase Pro Floor Pump Review

by Brian Mullin on April 6, 2012

SKS is a German company that is best known for their bike fenders and mudguards in the US, but their product suite also includes pumps, saddle bags, multitools, and chainguards and water bottle cages. They have been manufacturing bike pumps for 80 years, and originated the mini pump, and last year sold 7.8 million pumps and 4 millions fenders/mudguards worldwide. The US general manager for SKS, Mark Burgener went through part of their products one evening at the Magura 2011 Sedona press camp, and I was amazed at the breadth of their line relative to mountain biking, and to a lesser extent, the commuter and urban bikes.

Floor Pumps
Their floor pumps include their 40 year old prestigious Rennkompressor, the top of the line Airbase Pro, the entry level Airwork and the mountain bike specific Aircon. I used the Aircon quite a few times at the Sedona camp, and the large stable base, and the ability to add monstrous amounts of air volume with each stroke was perfect for inflating fat mountain bike tires. All the pumps include their EVA (Easy Valve Access) head, which auto detects the valve type, whether it’s a Schrader or Presta. All their pumps are engineered and made in Germany.

Aircon 6.0
The high-volume Aircon 6.0 floor pump uses an oversized corrosion-resistant steel barrel, with a 730mm stroke, and can inflate to 87 psi/6 bar. It features a large 80mm diameter pressure gauge, an ergonomic dual compound handle, a wide stable base, their valve sensing E.V.A. (Easy Valve Access) head, and retails for $45.

The Aircon is an interesting beast, and it proves that size does matter! Most floor pumps are designed for high pressure and low volume road tires, and can be somewhat ill-suited for pumping up their monstrous high-volume mountain bike brethren. Hook up a normal floor pump to inflate a large mountain bike tire, and you’ll be stroking forever to get it to its anemic pressure setting. While a road or cross tire might require 90-120 psi, the fatter and higher-volume mountain bike tires need pressures around 25-35 psi (ballpark numbers). Enter the high-volume Aircon floor pump as the ideal tool, which has a 730mm stroke and an oversized barrel, and is perfect for mountain bike tires. It creates over twice as much air per stroke than their other floor models, so that the high-volume and low pressure mountain bike tires can be quickly inflated. Its large-diameter barrel gives more volume per stroke!

During my usage over the last season, it has been immensely functional, and topping off my extremely fat 2.4 and 2.5 tires only required a few quick strokes, and I am done, in contrast to the usual endless number with a normal pump. The very large gauge was easy to see and read, even for my old eyes; although I am not sure why it goes to 140 psi (it goes to 11)? I wish that the gauge’s range was smaller, and would therefore have larger gradations between the numbers, especially considering the most mountain bike tires only need a 20-35 psi reading. The large-volume stroke can cause some issues once you get upwards of 45 psi, as it becomes more difficult to push that large amount of air at the higher pressures, which is why the road based designs are more throttled down in their barrel diameters. The Aircon is supposed to have a maximum output of 87 psi, but I never got close to that, since it was too tough to pump very high, and none of my mountain bike tires need anything above 35 psi. I could get several of my tubeless ready tires to seat on the rims, but it didn’t usurp my handy compressor, which is still the best for getting finicky tubeless tires to pop on. The fancy E.V.A head worked nicely, and did its job detecting if the valve was Schrader or Presta, although if the Schrader threading wasn’t long enough it wouldn’t clamp down to pop open the valve itself for proper inflation. The locking lever for the head was somewhat difficult to clamp down, and tended to snap back on your fingers when releasing it, so it took some practice for usage.

The pump handle had a nice feel in the hands, and was easy to hold onto when pushing the vast amounts of air into the tires. The wide base offered extra support and stability, which greatly helped with pumping the long stroked monster. It didn’t take to many strokes to inflate a tire from scratch, making the task much easier and less time consuming. For storing the pump, the hose can either be clamped on either side of the barrel just below the handle, or the integrated hook on the head can hang from its latch point on the handle. I used the former, since I was tossing the pump into the back of my truck, and the hose clamping over the top of the handle kept it in place.

 

Bottom Line
The Aircon 6.0 is an excellent floor pump that is extremely well suited for inflating high-volume and low pressure mountain bike tires. The oversized barrel creates double the amount of air for each stroke of the handle, so that mountain bike tires can be quickly inflated or topped off. The large gauge is easy to read, although it needs half the pressure range and better gradation. The ergonomic handle and stable base work in a synergistic fashion for easy stroking during inflation. The E.V.A. worked nicely and easily sensed the valve type, although the clamp snapped back during release. The Aircon 6.0 is well-built and durable, and is perhaps one of the most ideal mountain bike floor pumps I have used, with an excellent $45 price point.

 

Pros

  • Large easy to read gauge
  • Wide and stable base
  • Large ergonomic handle
  • Well built and durable
  • Large-diameter barrel gives more volume per stroke

Cons

  • Hard to pump at higher pressures
  • E.V.A. head – hard to clamp and snaps back on release
  • Gauge number range is too large

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Aircon 6.0 Specs:

  • Visit the SKS Aircon 6.0 website
  • high volume pump
  • wide stable base
  • oversized steel barrel
  • high pressure flexible connection with EVA-Head 
  • Easy to read 80mm pressure gauge (bar/PSI) 
  • valve: all kinds of valves
  • length: 730mm
  • ouput max: 87psi/6 bar
  • weight: 1730g

 

 

Airbase Pro
The Airbase Pro is a professional track floor pump which uses an aluminum barrel with an elliptic profile, with a 728mm stroke, and can inflate to 232 psi/16 bar. It features a top-mounted precision pressure gauge, an ergonomic handle, a heavy cast steel base with non-skid rubber inserts, their valve sensing E.V.A. (Easy Valve Access) head, and retails for $80.

The Airbase Pro is one tough hombre, and is truly built like a tank. The first thing you notice when using the pump is the prodigious weight (2850 grams), which is a combination of its overbuild and the heavy cast steel base. This sucker is rated at 232 psi, although I don’t remotely have anything that needs those sorts of pressures, but it can certainly pump tires up to immense levels if required. It is well suited for any sort of tire, from mountain to road bikes, but it is certainly more orientated towards the road side of things.

The Airbase Pro was predominately my shop pump, and I used to fill everything from my fat high-volume mountain bike tires to my higher pressure commuter tires, and an occasional road tire. The aluminum barrel has an elliptical profile, which made it easier to grab the pump and move it around. The stroke was very smooth and precise, something that is unusual in most floor pumps, as most have a sort of clunky movement through their travel. The top-mounted gauge was easy to read due to its proximity, and it was well protected, although the large range and small gradations made it more difficult to use with mountain bike tires. The fancy E.V.A head worked nicely, and did its job detecting if the valve was Schrader or Presta, although if the Schrader threading wasn’t long enough it wouldn’t clamp down to pop open the valve itself for proper inflation. The locking lever for the head was somewhat difficult to clamp down, and tended to snap back on your fingers when releasing it, so it took some practice for usage.

The pump handle had a nice feel in the hands, and the indented finger grooves gave better grip, which helped when cranking out the higher pressures. The heavy base and sticky feet kept the pump stable and secure, and prevented it from any unwanted fall over’s. It was extremely easy to use the pump due to the precise and smooth stroke, and excellent support and stability provided by the cast steel base. The integrated hook on the head could hang from its latch point on either side of the gauge, but seemed to work better on the left.

 
Bottom Line
The Airbase Pro is a great floor pump, with exceptional build quality, and the sweet smooth stroke and heavy sticky base work in synergy to provide a maximum usage factor. The top-mounted gauge is easy to read, although the pressure range and the pump’s rating seemed like overkill? The E.V.A. worked nicely and easily sensed the valve type, although the clamp snapped back during release. It is somewhat pricey at $80, but you’ll get a long-lived pump, that will be used for many years.

The Airbase Pro is extremely well-built and durable, and the precise and smooth stroke, heavy sticky base and large pressure range make for a superb multi usage floor pump, that is built like a tank and will last for a very long time.

 

Pros

  • Easy to read top mounted pressure gauge
  • Heavy, sticky and stable base
  • Precise and smooth stroke
  • Well built and durable
  • Long lived pump

Cons

  • Expensive
  • E.V.A. head – hard to clamp and snaps back on release
  • Gauge number range and rating is a bit extreme

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Air Base Pro Specs: 

  • Visit the SKS Airbase Pro website 
  • extra long aluminum barrel with elliptic profile allows comfortable handling 
  • heavy ironcast foot-rest with non-skidrubber inserts 
  • high pressure flexible connection with EVA-Head 
  • precision pressure gauge (bar/PSI) 
  • optional floor mounting for workshop use 
  • valve: all kinds of valves 
  • length: 728mm 
  • ouput max: 16 bar / 232 PSI 
  • weight: 2850g

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