Topeak Smart Guage D2X
55g (including battery) £41.99
The Topeak Smart Gauge D2X is a very accurate and intuitive standalone digital gauge. Lightweight but generally sturdy construction, a bold display, rotating head, psi, bar and kg/cm2 measurements, easily switchable head and the ability to check pressures on suspension are all definite plusses. However, it is quite pricey compared with its lowlier DX sibling and while clear, the display was trickier to read than some, in the dark.
Pros: Lightweight, compact, generally solid construction, versatile, user friendly, accurate, big clear display.
Cons: Display harder to read in the dark tendency for unwanted pressure release with Presta valves, pricey.
Measuring a pocket friendly 11.8 x 4.2 x 1.9 cm and tipping the scales at a feathery 55g, it’s made for the jersey pocket (a zippered, “valuables” one in my book) without being fiddly for bigger hands. The body is described as an “engineering grade” polymer and rubberised grippers mean it’s easy to hold (or keep hold of) in sweaty, or wet, rainy conditions.
The head can be rotated 360 degrees, which caters for left and right-handed people, and I was pleased to see Topeak have gone for a clearly marked Presta/Schrader switch, rather than the smart head designs. Smart heads are the last word in convenience, especially when getting back on the road, or trail following a flat, on a cold and rainy night. However, in my experience their sprung mechanism tends to blow its guts into oblivion, making it useless at the least opportune moment. Bottom line, I’m pleased Topeak have gone the switch route.
Back to the DX2 Maximum pressure is 260psi, or 18BAR, which should cater for pretty much every tyre and suspension setup I can think of. My tyres range from 55 to 145psi, so well within these limits.
Talking of which, that circular button integrated within the head is a pressure release/bleed valve, should you accidentally get carried away. Lower down, you’ll notice three smaller buttons. One is the power switch, another toggles between PSI, Bar and Kg/cm2 while the third resets the display.
Flip it over and there’s the battery compartment, which is accessed using a 10, or 2p coin, or indeed, tyre lever. In common with most digital gauges I’ve used, it’s fuelled by a single CR2032 cell, which are easy to find, pretty much anywhere.
Ease of Use 3.75/5
As I said in my introduction, incredibly intuitive to use. Power up and it’ll emit an audible beep. Flick the valve head to Presta/Schrader and press on to your valve until it beeps and confirms the pressure. Now, in fairness to Topeak, they make mention of this in the instructions, but in Presta setting, it tends to steal a few psi.
A minor thing but irritating, especially if you’re very particular about your pressures. With a 700x25c, this tended to be 4-5psi. A moot point if you’ve gone a little over, or at home with the track pump but frustrating if you’ve managed 100psi with a mini pump.
The auto shutdown function kicks in given 45seconds of inactivity, so batteries shouldn’t get exhausted too quickly. To date, while the buttons are responsive, the need for a deliberate press has ruled out any accidental engagement when it’s come along for the ride-jersey pocket, or sensibly segregated in bike luggage.
The head is easily rotated, although felt slightly more arthritic than my long serving SKS air checker, which also turns 360 degrees. Perfect for checking in confined spaces and would seem a good fit for right and left-hand dominant people. I have long fingers and I found the DX2’s ergonomics refreshingly compatible-one of those times when tiny details make big differences.
I’ve used ours across the fleet and with car and motorcycle tyres, too. Using my SKS Air Checker and SKS Air X-Plorer 10.0 digital floor pumps as control, the Topeak Smart Gauge DX2 has certainly rivalled the Air checker on the accuracy fronts, so reassuringly good. There was a minor (.5 Psi) variance between the Topeak and the SKS Air X-Plorer but noting to write home about.
Once upon a time, floor pump gauges had passing affinity with reality. The gap has since narrowed to the point of insignificance, but high-quality standalone gauges still win by a nose.
There wasn’t any unwanted pressure loss when fitting to Schrader or Woods valves, either, although I found it annoying when I’d coupled it to a tyre with Presta valve, run at its minimum recommended pressure. For example, I’d checked the CST Cito were at 90, only to discover the bleed had brought them down to 86psi, meaning I had to reach for the floor pump.
However, there’s been no accidental prodding of the gauge's pressure release valve in five weeks and frequent use.
Sometimes the SKS Air X-Plorer 10.0 floor pump’s digital gauge can take half a second or so to calibrate properly, meaning you can creep a few psi over (3, or 4). Nothing serious but if you’ve been distracted, a deft thumb press of said release button restores harmony.
Difficult to comment at this stage. However, ours has accidentally fallen from a garden seat, onto a concrete path and on another occasion, a jersey pocket without any obvious signs of damage.
So long as you don’t give it a bath (I thought my beloved SKS had met a sudsy end but was able to resuscitate by removing the battery cover and CR2032 cell. A liberal helping of Joker 440 and several hours in 26-degree heat), keep an eye on the battery (to prevent potential leak damage) and maybe give the contacts a lick of Vaseline, or silicone grease. Otherwise, accident aside, I see no reason it won’t live a long and productive life.
Talking batteries, our sample’s OEM cell waned quite quickly but it’s worth saying we don’t know how long the unit had been in storage. Replacements are inexpensive and three weeks and daily use since, our bargain basement substitution is still going strong.
Given the design, specification and refinement, no-one's being short-changed. However, as some will point out, this kind of outlay buys a nice, wallet friendly floor pump. Similarly, depending on your needs or priorities, there are some very credible alternatives from other brands and indeed, Topeak’s own stable. First up, we have the SKS Air checker 2. At £27.99 it features a better backlight, solid build quality and is also simple to use. However, it only registers up to 155psi, limiting its use with suspension and the head “only” rotates 180 degrees.
Then of course, there’s the Topeak D2, which will register 250psi and is also designed for tyres, suspension forks and rear shocks. It also features a bleed valve, switchable head (between Presta/Schrader) but this “only” rotates 180, not 360 degrees. At the other end of the market, those looking for something cheap and cheery for tyres might find the Lifeline Digital a good fit; £13 buys a swivel head, 160psi maximum pressure, pressure bleed valve. It’ll also report in Bar, PSI and Kgcm2. That said; it lacks the outright user-friendliness of some, and the display is a little smaller too.
I’m fond of the Topeak Smart Gauge D2X and if refinement and accuracy are top of your list, it’s well worth considering. That said; it is pricey compared to some, including the very capable D2 stablemate. The D2x head’s tendency to rob a few psi from Presta valves is also likely to irk those, like yours truly who like their setup just so.