Although you certainly can inflate a bike's tires using a compact hand pump, doing so typically involves some time and effort. That's why many cyclists use CO2 cartridges instead – particularly road riders with high-pressure tires, or mountain bikers who may need to reseat tubeless tires. Those cartridges cost a couple of bucks or so each, however, and they're not reusable. France's Production Functional Factory is attempting to address that situation with Bimp Air, a refillable compressed air system that's charged by the spinning of the bike's front wheel.
Bimp Air actually consists of three main components: a generator that's mounted alongside the front hub, a miniature compressor that's attached to (and powered by) that generator, plus a bottle-cage-mounted compressed air canister. The compressor and the canister are linked by a hose.
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According to the company, just six minutes of riding at a speed of 15 km/h (9 mph) spins up the generator enough to fill the 50-bar (725-psi) canister with 11 liters of compressed air.
When it's time to fix a flat, users disconnect the canister, pull it out of the cage, hook it up to the tire's valve stem via a shorter inflation hose, then press its release button. Within less than 10 seconds, it can reportedly fill up a mountain, hybrid or road bike tire. It can also be used to top up mountain bikes' air shocks.
Once the inflation job is complete, everything is hooked back up, and the canister gets refilled as the bike resumes moving.
Of course, not all cyclists are going to be keen on riding around with a generator mounted on their front wheel. With that in mind, the company also offers a non-bike-mounted electric pump that can be used to fill the canister before each ride. Potential buyers who choose to go that route, however, might also want to consider the RideAir or Airshot canisters, both of which can be pre-charged using a floor pump.
Bimp Air is already available in France, priced at €299 (about US$336) for the bike-powered version. Its makers are now looking for a North American distributor.
Source: Bimp AirView gallery - 3 images