It is refreshing that Airace are not a generic copycat brand, rather they have an original identity and style and concentrate on bicycle pumps, plus a few tools, rather than every product under the sun. Airace recently made its debut on Aussie shores and is a cycling accessories brand that immediately conjures images of hotted-up Asian cars. Finely tuned, full of gadgets, and a world away from European sports cars. They are part of a wave of younger Taiwanese bike brands seeking to establish themselves internationally in their own right.
Airace is not yet a household name, although the Taiwanese brand is already distributed across the globe. Reid Cycleshave signed up as the Australian distributor and are seeking to go beyond their roots selling budget fixies. For this review I received a floor pump, a mini pump, and a compact multi-tool.
The Veloce AE Floor Pump is a pretty stylish unit for only $49.99. The pump looks a bit like a stealth fighter plane with its edgy design and it delivers everything you need from a floor pump. The grip is comfortable and the feet are conveniently placed to aid stability when pumping. The pressure gauge is large and has psi and bar readings and a dial with a marker that can be rotated to make it is little easier to recognise when you have reached your preferred tyre pressure.
Compared to my current floor pump, the valve head of the Airace pump was not just good, it was great. It seemed to provide a much better fit and changing from the Presta to Schrader was as simple as unscrewing the nozzle by hand, flipping, and screwing it back on. The Airace has a lever to fasten and seal the pump head to the valve.
The bicycle mounted Airace Fit Road Mini Pump is, in my book, not a mini pump; at 25cm it won’t fit in my jersey pocket. I prefer carrying my pump in my jersey to free up the bike from extra equipment. Despite the length, this pump was relatively unobtrusive and, being predominantly white and black, it matched my bike. It has a plastic bracket to mount underneath the water-bottle cage and, while the bicycle pump fits securely, an extra o-ring helps it from accidentally popping out.
During the review I used it only once on the road to help another cyclist who was stuck with a puncture. This pump works as you would expect, it will allow you to get a reasonable tyre pressure and get you back home, so it would be a fairly straight-forward pump if it were not for one useful feature.
Remember the old school bicycle pumps with the removable nozzles which you pulled out and screwed onto the valve first before then screwing the pump to the nozzle? It was always much easier to pump up a tire with these without resorting to the finger acrobatics required for modern mini pumps. The Airace mini pump has a clever extendable nozzle; turn and pull out the nozzle which has a flexible hose to give you more room to fasten the nozzle to the valve and easily pump. While I would still like to see a smaller version, this is only $22.99.
The 19 function Airace multi-tool costs $24.99, so is competitively priced, but it didn’t have the tools I want in a portable multi-tool. It has seven hex bits (2mm – 8mm), one wide flat head screwdriver, two Phillips head, a Torx T25 and a removable steel plate that can be used as a spoke key and 8 – 12mm hex wrench.
On a modern bike, a chain breaker is far more practical than the wrench tools and, in my view, the hex bits have a flawed design. The chromed hex bits have an attractive white coating, but the length of the actual hex bit is only 7mm and my attempt to unscrew a deraileuer hanger didn’t work because the tool wouldn’t fit in. Admittedly, many of the hex screws on a bike aren’t deeply recessed however, for usability, there is room for improvement. And while the white coating looks good, on unpacking the tool the first time some of the coating had already rubbed off to reveal the chrome surface underneath. Based on my own experience of tools, tyre levers, and repair kits in my saddle bag, the white coating probably wouldn’t last very well.
If this multi-tool has exactly what you need, you’ll find it solid and well made. The long and flat design means it should fit into a saddle bag easily. On the flip side, at 140 grams it is a heavy tool and provides tools I rarely need on the road, and it misses out on the chain breaker, so it’s not for me.
These Airace products are available online from Reid Cycles and in-store in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.