This light and simple-to-use SKS Airchecker 2 pressure gauge from the German brand means you never have to worry about running the wrong tyre pressures
I’ve ended up with a couple of different tyre pressure gauges in the car to use before every ride, but the one I’ve been using the most recently is this SKS Airchecker 2.
Checking your tyre pressures before every ride should be a ritual as ingrained into your routine as pulling on your helmet. Even the best mountain bike tyres properly sealed can drop 1 or 2 psi in a few days, which can affect handling and increase the chances of burping your tyre on the trail so a good pressure gauge is a must have item, as well as a decent pump designed specifically for tubeless tyres.
The SKS Airchecker 2 is less bulky than the popular and slightly more expensive Topeak SmartHead gauge that I used to use, the SKS can easily be tucked in a pocket or hip pack in case you want to fiddle with pressures on a ride. The twin head fits both Schrader and Presta valves and rotates 180º to help you read the pressure, while there are rubber strips on each side to improve grip. I found it worked best spinning the wheel until the valve was at the highest point, then turning the head 90º so the screen faced up with it pushed onto the valve. Some guages can be difficult to place on the valve without losing loads of air, but the Airchecker 2 scores well in this respect as the needle that depresses the Presta valve is recessed, making it easier to align the gauge with the valve as you slide it on. It still pays to be fast and accurate when making a reading, but I found I could be more consistent when pressing it onto the valve than the Topeak. Talking of accuracy, the SKS reads in tenths of a psi, whereas the Topeak only gives you whole units, and it proved accurate to within 0.1psi when I compared it to the readout from a Quarq TyreWiz valve.
While the design of the Airchecker 2 is simple, SKS has added a couple of useful features. The backlit display is easy to read, even in low light, and there’s a bleed valve (the orange button) that lets you release pressure accurately. To do this, select the realtime monitoring option by pressing the Mode button. You can also toggle between psi and Bar by pressing the On/Off button and turn the unit off by holding it for three seconds (although it does turn off automatically after 30 seconds).
Compact, lightweight, accurate and reliable to use, the SKS Airchecker 2 is a well designed product and should have a place in every mountain biker’s tool box. It’s also cheaper and offers a couple of important functional benefits over the Topeak SmartHead, namely greater accuracy and consistency of use.