SKS Air-X-Plorer Digi Floor Pump 10.0 2021g £70.00 Long term (12 month) Test
The SKS Air-Explorer Digi Floor Pump 10.0 is a very refined mid-range model, with stereotypically Germanic build quality and backed by a 5 year warranty. Ready availability of spares also bodes well for the long term. Being picky, I would’ve appreciated a longer hose and higher maximum pressure. The digital gauge is very precise and easy to read-even in low light. However, its analogue sibling is £25 cheaper and the legendary SKS Rennkompressor only £5 dearer.
Pros: Solid build quality, refined, comfortable handle, precision gauge.
Cons: 10 bar maximum may not suit everyone, digital gauge adds £20 to price of standard model.
Standing 71cm (about 2.33 ft) tall, the base and barrel are made from steel and treated to a high quality, durable powder coated finish. Both should last the test of time-at least in most home workshops. The handle is a broad, ergonomic two-part design topped off with a thick composite, for comfort and grip. The hose is another reassuringly sturdy affair and measures a sensible 120cm, which arguably caters for most situations, but as I’ll explain later, there a few minor considerations.
The multi-valve head is designed to cater for Presta, Schrader and woods valve. Rather than the traditional and admittedly, super convenient “smart” heads, which automatically “detect” the head type, these have appointed ports.
Push the head onto the valve and lock in position by pressing the orange lever down.
The gauge is found at the base but large, orange digits mean there’s no excuse for whacking 100psi in a tyre maxing out at 70. The on/off button is similarly obvious, has an auto time down to save battery life and reads either BAR/PSI- just prod to toggle between them. Talking of batteries, these are the ubiquitous AAA, so no dramas when the OEM units are spent.
Personal quirks aside, the SKS is both pleasant to use and reassuringly efficient on high volume and high-pressure rubber alike. The wide handle and supportive composite layer are extremely comfortable and unlike some admittedly fetching wooden designs, doesn’t dig in, or become slippery. A boon on hot days and when you’re trying to raise several flaccid tyres. Ditto the valve head-no lost time switching between Presta/Schrader.
Scores on the doors
All tyres were completely flaccid. 700x25 to 110psi (22 strokes), 700x28 to 100psi (28 strokes), 16x1.75 to 50 psi (22) 700 x38 to 65psi (28) 26x2.0 to 65 psi (44), 700x32 to 100psi (34 strokes). Good, but what I’d expect from this end of the market. It’s worth noting that TPU tubes required a few additional strokes, but this was so using the Blackburn and a ten-year-old Lezyne Floor Drive.
Talking of which, I am always keen to get as close to a pump’s claimed limit as possible. The fairest test being a set of 700x25c with 145psi maximum on the sidewalls. Credit where due, the SKS went the distance, but I had a couple of moments past 115psi, when the piston seemed close to locking out. The first time was with a TPU tube but same results with a bog standard, mid-range butyl.
Now, this was more resistance, rather than lactic acid, primal grunt inducing, or piston popping feedback, so not something to get excited about. However, if you’re regularly needing this kind of pressure, I’d be inclined to look toward something akin to their Pro range. Once upon a time, integral gauges were in ballpark territory, track pumps being no exception. They were also the first things to expire, especially on budget models.
Cross referenced with my long serving digital gauges (SKS air checker and Topeak Smart Gauge D2) suggests the SKS Air-Explorer Digi Floor Pump 10.0 is within .5psi. During inflation, the readout momentarily varied-much like digital scales but stop for a second and the readout is steady. I crept just past the desired pressure on a couple of occasion but we’re literally talking 1.2psi, which you’re likely to lose when disconnecting from the valve head.
I look after my equipment, but track pumps are one of those things that tend to get knocked about. I’ve been defaulting to ours for the last year and everything’s holding up really well.
Aside from some very slight (and arguably inevitable) paint loss beneath the base and two mysterious scratches on the gauge’s fascia, there’s no other sign of wear 'n’ tear. Yes, and that includes the head.
I put some helicopter tape over the fascia and might give the piston a quick shot of silicone spray now and then but that’s about it. Spare hoses and head kits are available-£9.99 for the head.
£70.00 is £25 dearer than the standard Air- Explorer-X 10.0. Then there’s the SKS Rennkompressor, their iconic model, popular with pro mechanics at £75 (although we’ve seen it cheaper online). It features a cast iron base, flip up stainless steel feet, 230psi maximum pressure, catering for most scenarios. While a more obvious choice for commercial contexts, it is a little shorter, which may be a consideration for taller people, with a bigger fleet. Equally, Steve like the SKS Airmotion 12.0.
Blackburn Core 3 Floor Pump is £69.99, features a 48-inch hose, bleed valve, steel base and barrel and capable of 160psi. It also comes with the marque’s lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects. Lezyne Steel Macro Floor Digital Drive comes in at £64.99 features a digital gauge, 220psi maximum pressure, a steel barrel and piston.
The SKS Air-Explorer Digi Floor Pump 10.0 is solidly made, refined, reliable, and very pleasant to use. It will cater for most rubber from high volume to all but the highest-pressure road tyres. However, by no means poor value, much will depend upon your fleet and need for a digital gauge. Afterall, it's only a few pounds cheaper than their iconic Rennkompressor (a popular sight in pro workshops) and £25 dearer than its analogue sibling.
Verdict: 3.5/5 Solid and refined track pump with good spares backup but higher-pressure analogue models might be better value.
PUBLISHED JULY 2023