In a previous article, I reviewed the Fanttik X8 APEX power bank and air compressor. It’s a great little air compressor, and I almost always keep it in my toolbag on bike rides since Fanttik sent it to me. If I need to patch or replace a tube, having a compact (about the size of a water bottle) and powerful air compressor on hand would save a lot of time and trouble compared to using a portable hand pump. I was even able to use it to save the day on an outing with an EV when time was limited, the tires were a little low, and I needed to get maximum range.
But, there’s a downside to the APEX version of the air compressor: size and weight. For car outings, or times when I have a cargo rack that can hold a bunch of tools, the APEX is the superior choice. But, on long rides or when I need so save space and weight, having a smaller compressor that is good enough for bike duty would be a great option. That’s exactly what the non-APEX version of the X8 compressor is.
Using The Compressor
Like its big brother, you can charge the unit up using a USB-C port. It comes with a small cable for this, but not a “wall wart” power adapter. But, these days, everyone has dozens of these things in their homes, and you probably have a phone, tablet, or computer that charges with USB-C. Just plug the compressor in, and a few hours later it will be full and ready to inflate bike tires or top up car tires (albeit more slowly than the larger APEX version).
When full charged, you can plug a variety of air outlets to the unit. There’s an air hose that threads into the compressor and has a common automotive or bike Shrader valve on the other end. This is what you’d use to inflate most tires. It also comes with a small adapter to inflate Presta valves on higher end bikes, so Fanttik has you covered there, too. It also has adapters to inflate balls, balloons, and things like pool toys. These adapters come in a little plastic baggie, but the soft bag pouch has a little pocket to store them long-term and keep them all with the compressor without getting lost.
Controls, once it is charged, are just like the APEX. There’s a button to turn on a light that points the same way as the compressor hose, which is super handy in the dark. There are arrow keys to increase or decrease the target inflation, and a power button to turn the unit on and off (long press) or turn the compressor’s air pump on and off (double click the power button). Once you start the inflation process, it shows the current pressure as it inflates the tire or ball and automatically stops when the target pressure is reached. You probably shouldn’t leave it unattended, but you don’t need to watch it like a hawk to keep it from exploding a bike tire or anything.
Things I Love About The Non-APEX X8
Like every Fanttik product I’ve ever tested, this air compressor looks sharp. It’s got a great exterior design, a bright and high contrast screen, and is just otherwise aesthetically pleasing. If you use it on the trail or to help a family member, it’s going to look like it cost far more than it did, and they’re going to ask you where to get one.
The small size and weight is another big plus. It can fit in a larger pocket on cargo pants or on a backpack without taking up large amounts of interior space. It won’t weigh you down on bike trails or make you choose whether to carry it or carry extra water. It’s also about half the weight of the APEX version, and every ounce counts when you’re carrying a bunch of supplies.
For the smaller bike tire I aired up with it, it went from zero to 42 PSI in under a minute with no effort on my part. I haven’t tested in on a fat-tire bike yet, but it seems like it would be slower to inflate than the APEX. But, it’s still head and shoulders above trying to use a compact hand pump on the side of a trail after you run over a big thorn. Spending a few more seconds on the occasional times you need it, but saving a lot of space and weight, is a good tradeoff.
Finally, the environmental improvement over other options is important. You can inflate bike tires a lot faster with a CO2 compressor, but those use BB gun cartridges and you’re putting a lot of carbon dioxide right into the atmosphere. Using clean electric power and compressing air is a better option for the environment.
Some Minor Downsides
Like any good product, you can’t expect perfection.
One very important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to leave this in a hot car. The APEX is more of an automotive tool, but I know that a compact air compressor would be a tempting thing to leave in your vehicle, too. The problem arises when the sun beats on the windows and your car becomes something between a greenhouse and a solar oven. Lithium batteries can’t handle extreme heat (140-plus degrees F), and you’ll destroy or seriously shorten the compressor’s life if you don’t keep it in better temperatures. This isn’t a huge deal for a compressor that’s more bike oriented, but it’s an important warning buyers need to heed.
It’s also going to be very slow for anything but a top-up for an automotive tire. It’s sure as hell better than nothing, but if you need to inflate a totally flat tire, or you’ve got several tires to top up, you might consider using a home air compressor, something that runs on the car’s battery, or heading to a gas station to get faster results.
If you’re looking for something that you can use with cars more readily, I’d recommend going with the APEX version of the compressor. But, if you’re focusing on cycling, the smaller and lighter version of the X8 is a compelling option that I’d definitely recommend looking at. Plus, it’s a few bucks cheaper than the APEX version here at Amazon.
All images by Jennifer Sensiba.
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