It seems like every time I’m out on the bike trails I see more and more cyclists riding mountain bikes with 29-inch tires. These larger tires offer several advantages over the traditional 26-inch tires, such as increased traction and a smoother ride over obstacles. Until recently the downside of 29-inch tires was that there wasn’t a CO2 cartridge designed for these higher volume tires and that’s where the Genuine Innovations Fat 20 Threaded CO2 Cartridge comes in! This new 20 gram CO2 cartridge will inflate a 29×2.1 MTB tire up to 42psi. The Fat 20 fits perfectly in their product line between their 16 gram and 25 gram cartridges. If you are not certain what size CO2 cartridge you need for your bike tires you need to check out the tire inflation chart they have on their Web site.
The Fat 20 CO2 cartridge is compatible with several of the mini-CO2 inflators that Genuine Innovations sells, such as the Microflate, Air Chuck, and Ultraflate. I think the best way to go is to carry the Mountain Pipe CO2 Inflator which gives you both a CO2 inflation chuck and a hand pump. A package of two Fat 20 CO2 cartridges sells for $11. If your local bike shop does not carry the Fat 20 in stock just ask them to order it for you. The Fat 20 is available on the Genuine Innovations Website as well as Amazon.com.
When Genuine Innovations sent a package of these cartridges to me for review I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to write! The only difference between the 16 gram and the 20 gram cartridges is 4 grams of CO2 (and a slight difference in length). However, not all CO2 cartridges are alike.
I have been a loyal customer of Genuine Innovations for around nine years—well before I started writing product reviews for this blog. If you have ever visited the Genuine Innovations Website or purchased one of their CO2 inflators you might have noticed their warranty says “the use of any CO2 cartridge other than Genuine Innovations brand cartridges will void the warranty.” You might be tempted to credit this warning to their marketing department, i.e., maybe it is just an effort to scare you into buying their cartridges instead of the cheaper cartridges you can find online. Please give me an opportunity to set the record straight.
Before I took up cycling I spent a lot of time shooting air rifles and pistols, all powered by CO2 cartridges. Somewhere along the way I found out I could “save” money by buying “no-name” CO2 cartridges in bulk off of the Internet. My first (and last) attempt at using cheap CO2 cartridges taught me several things about quality control (and the lack thereof).
The first thing I noticed about the cheaper cartridges was that they were dirty. The entire box of 24 cartridges appeared to have a thin film of oil on each cylinder. I didn’t think a lot about it at first—I was just thinking about the money I saved by buying “no name” cartridges. The second thing I learned about the cheap cartridges was that they wouldn’t fit inside my air rifle! However, since my air pistol had a different mechanism the cheap cartridges worked in it. The cylinders looked like they were exactly the same size as the “name brand” cartridges I had used, but they were just enough thicker that they wouldn’t fit. I guess quality control was not such a big deal in their country of origin!
After using a few of the cheaper cartridges I realized that the amount of CO2 in each cartridge varied wildly. I had no way of actually measuring the amount of CO2 in each cartridge, but based upon the number of shots I was able to take they had to vary by at least 25%. A difference of 25% might not mean much in an air gun, but it is a pretty big deal in your bike tire!
By the time I got halfway through the box of “no name” cartridges I found another problem—the seals on my air gun were very dirty. I wasn’t sure where the dirt and oil was coming from at first, so I cut one of the empty CO2 cartridges in two with a hacksaw and was amazed at the amount of oil and grit I found inside! Wherever these cartridges were made the quality control folks must have slept on the job!
For this review I cut an empty Genuine Innovations CO2 cartridge in two with a hacksaw. Do you know what I found? Nothing! The inside of the cartridge looked like it had just come back from the dry cleaners (except for the shavings created by the hacksaw). Quality control does make a difference and that is why for the past nine years I have only purchased Genuine Innovations CO2 cartridges for my bikes. “Saving money” by buying cheap cartridges can end up costing you a lot of money.