SKS Airchecker Pressure Gauge - Review

Jun 29, 2015
by Mike Levy  
SKS Air Checker


The Airchecker's name pretty much sums up what it's designed to do, and the digital gauge does exactly that down to a tenth of a PSI by way of a backlit digital readout. It can also read as high as 10 bar / 144 PSI, which means that you can use it on everything from your ultra-low pressure fat bike tires to your track bike, and a dual-sided head with both presta and schrader valves allows it to adapt to whatever type of valve you want to use it on. The head also swivels so you can read the display from more angles, and the orange button allows you to bleed of air pressure without removing the gauge from the valve.

I know what you might be thinking: a digital pressure gauge is surely only for the geekiest of geeky riders, and it's just one more techno-toy for the guy who adds or subtracts a single click of damping depending on if he's eaten an extra pancake for breakfast, right? I'd disagree, especially these days when we have high-volume tires that can be run at far lower pressures than many of us are used to using, which means that just a few PSI in either direction can have a large effect on how the bike rides. And when the pressures get this low - well under 20 PSI in many cases - an analog gauge just isn't precise enough to cut it. So, make fun if you want, but I'd say that a digital pressure gauge is one of the more important tools that I use these days, and I couldn't imagine doing the ol' squeeze-and-go anymore. The Airchecker retails for $24.99 USD. www.sks-germany.com

SKS Air Checker
The swiveling head can accept both presta and schrader air valves.
SKS Air Checker
The orange button lets you beed off air by a single PSI at a go, making for very precise adjustments.


Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesThe Airchecker is pretty darn simple to use. Pushing the single large button in the center turns it on, which is followed by a subtle 'beep' before the gauge zeros and is ready to use a second or two later. Pushing it on the valve is then followed by another 'beep' that lets you know a reading has been taken and you can pull the Airchecker off, or you can use the orange air bleed button to precisely meter out air to a single PSI until you have it exactly where you want it. If you do pull the Airchecker off the valve, you can put it back on without resetting gauge, which is pretty handy, but it does automatically turn off after twenty seconds or so of not being used. I found that to be a bit quick, with it often turning off between me being able to check the pressure in the front and rear tires. Obviously a pretty minor complaint. Also, the swiveling head makes it easy to read the backlit display if you're using the bleed button to adjust pressure, but it isn't that useful if you're pulling the gauge off after each reading.

I've been using the Airchecker before every single ride and have found that my tubeless tires tend to lose a few PSI overnight, which is quite noticeable on the trail when you're only running 18 or 19 PSI (or lower) to begin with. Yes, an analog gauge doesn't require batteries, but the little black Airchecker has become a mandatory piece of kit in my workshop that allows me to know the exact pressures that certain tires work best at, thereby making it easy to be sure that they're always set correctly for the day's ride. It's also small enough that I'll even bring it with me if I'm going on a road trip for a few days. $24.99 USD isn't exactly pocket change, but it's money well spent in my books. - Mike Levy



78 Comments

  • + 32
 What I want to see is a combo of all this and a Co2 cartridge. I don't know about you but I hate it when I have to use Co2 and then I have no idea what my pressure is. Sure, you can guess pretty well with a squeeze, but (call me nerdy) I do like numbers!
  • + 22
 Its called a pump. They let you put as much or as little air in as you like. And its not a one use item that gets thrown into landfill after a single use. Presto.
  • + 42
 Presta*
  • + 2
 Meh, for me the CO2 is more of a race solution. The point really is to get you going again and let you finish your enduro segment, XC lap, trip to the next aid station, or what have you. That said, as nerdy as it may be, try practicing with your C02 cartridge of choice to find out how much pressure it really give you on your favorite tire. Once you know that, you know if one cartridge is just enough, too much, or too little.
  • + 25
 Me, I've had my thumb and forefinger calibrated.
  • + 17
 Finally they review this pice of shit............ Bought one was excited to use it, broke in the first day, it stopped reading the pressure, sent it back for warranty, got the new one that broke the same way my recommendation just use a good pump.
  • + 51
 I agree, This is the worst pump Ever! It only Lets the air out and when i pulled on it really hard i broke!
  • - 22
flag silverfish1974 (Jun 30, 2015 at 1:17) (Below Threshold)
 You must be daft of something its not meant to pump up tyres is it.. Razz Also stop pulling on it then 'you' won't brreak..Geek
  • + 7
 I'm using a Topeak D2 Smart Head Digital Pressure Gauge for 4 years and it's been great, specially when you have to extract some of the air, just change to "Tune" mode and press the yellow button until you read the desired pressure. There's a difference of 2 PSI units from my Pedro's floor pump but I can't tell which one is more accurate tho!
And this one looks very similar to mine, so definitely a gadget to carry on all the times, it's light and battery last ages!
  • + 4
 +1 on the topeak. Great pressure gauge. I had the sks until my dog found it and chewed it up. Replaced it with the topeak D2 and I prefer it.
  • + 2
 @feeblesmith thank you for that. I've had one of these SKS gauges for several years now and have had great luck. The only time it stopped reading pressure is when the battery died (after 3 years!). I had my doubts as it is lightweight and feels a little cheap.
  • + 1
 I fully agree - it's crap - the PRO one works fine for me
  • + 1
 This gauge sucks big time. It lasted about 10 pressure checks before the inside rubber started to deteriorate away. Topeak Smartguage D2, only way to go.
  • + 3
 Wow. That is impressive. A tad bit more expensive but impressive.
  • + 4
 I have the Topeak, i think it's great (any digital pressure gauge). I can get consistent pressure every ride and compare what a few psi difference will do on the trail.
  • + 1
 Works on shox too where as the SKS does not, although with such a wide range it will be less accurate than the SKS.
  • + 2
 Nice one! Free shipping from CRC at the moment too. Sold.
  • + 4
 www.bike-components.de/en/Topeak/SmartGauge-D2-Digitales-Manometer-p28485/schwarz-grau-universal-o1150001

@Bones: how accurate can the SKS be? According to the top reviewer on CRC, the Topeak is very accurate.
  • + 4
 Got the topeak and its a decent bit of kit
  • + 4
 Topeak D2 does the job
  • + 5
 People spend so much money on their suspension and then neglect their tire pressures, which is another important part of that suspension. Having a relatively accurate, but consistent measurement is key. Love mine and use it to do a quick double check at the trailhead.

And for you those complainers "every time you check it you lose air"....really? REALLY? Come on, thats a minuscule amount of air and far less than it loses sitting in your garage for a couple days. If you losing that much air when you check your pressures, give up and go home.
  • + 1
 Fml.....I'm guilty but I got to a point where I said "Eff it!" so it doesn't bother me any more if I lose a bit as I release the pump from the tire valve.
  • + 4
 But if pressures are that low and being accurate is that important (bullsh$t bullsh$t) wouldn't the amount of difference that you lose from putting the gauge on the valve and then taking it off make for more of a difference than just not being such a lazy brat in sticking ya pump on it and using that gauge?

Or am I missing something?
  • + 19
 Good point, but for me it is not the point in being accurate... it is being consistent. And its relative!
If I were to read 22 psi and then take the gauge off I will loose a tiny bit of air. However I doubt it is more than 1/10th of a psi.
Then I go for a ride and like my pressure. The next day I can have the exact same reading of 22 psi and then still be happy. Sure, it isn't actually 22 psi (maybe)... but it is a number that you can trust.
  • + 8
 U don't loose more then half a psi every time u push it on to check. I have a topeak one and use it all the time. So let's say u start at 30 psi and u push it on. It will show 30 psi, then pull it off and do it again and it will show 30 still or 29, then do it again and it will show 29. All off this takes about 15 seconds. So even if ur gage is not corect after a few rides u can feel how much pressure u like and what works best on all difrent set ups. I don't ride super low pressures like 20 psi. I'm more like a 26 to 32 psi kinda guy. Higher for park and lower for trail. I have 2 floor pumps and they are both 4 psi difrent from each other as well. And I just go with the digital for consistency.
  • + 1
 I like working the numbers. I bought a digital Topeak my self because I wanted to know the numbers, build/set a baseline. I found you lose air measuring but no way to get it back without another tool. I moved to a floor pump. Much easier to add and subtract psi. You get good numbers and it's all there. You can moneyball everything to death. Plus, no $10-20 in batts. Naw floor pump it, until this piece can put air in.
  • + 1
 Of course you lose air when you take a pump off too, so what's your point?

It's nice when you're traveling or at a buddies' house, because it seems every other pump I try is about 5psi off from each other. Using the gauge, at least I can be consistent.

Mine's been working about two years. Still original battery. Check pressure every day before my ride.
  • + 5
 am i the only one who pumps up their tyres, start riding they feel to hard so i let a random amount out till they feel alright then just dont give a f**k what the pressure is cause it feels right for the conditions??
  • + 0
 No, you're not the only one, but you're part of the group that everyone else ends up waiting around for, because you let too much air out and ended up getting a pinch flat, or rolling a tire. (of course, that assumes you go fast, if you ride pretty slow you can get away with randomly low air pressures, so carry on...)
  • + 2
 I've got one of these, bought it about 2years ago. It's worked great for me and never had to change the battery yet! Found that as my tyres lose pressure over time, I pump 15-20 pumps into each, more if I've left it longer, then check both in one stint and it doesn't shut off. I take it rides with me, got it soaked with rain, and trail side repair mud and goop and it's been fine, never missed a beat! Id recommend it from my experience
  • + 1
 Bought mine about 4wks ago and have intermittent problems with it. Not sure if it is the tube valve (yes I still use tubes) or something else but there are times where it will not read. When it does read I will either get consistent readings or random readings like the valve is not seating properly. Talked with my LBS, he uses one of his fatbike, and he said he did not have any problems like that. I have gotten to the point where I have to take a couple readings from the tire, if they are close to one another, within a couple PSI, then it is good to go. However, there are days where I will attempt a reading and get 12psi, 22psi, 18.5psi, 19psi and so on. At which point I revert to my pump gauge which seems to only be a few PSI high.
  • + 1
 I like gadgets like this and would like to buy one of these as well but I already have a Schwalbe branded blue plastic psi checker which has worked fine for a year now since I purchased it for about £10.

I'd like to buy another different brand one to compare them. Maybe I'll buy this one I don't know yet.
  • + 2
 I have this and the display does not change if you bleed air off. You have to reset it and take another reading. Longer process than what I thought it would be for this device. I will stick to analog.
  • + 2
 Well you don't have to reset it. There is no reset, you just take another reading, sort of like what you would do with an analog gauge after you bled off some air.
  • + 2
 taking another reading is basically resetting it. On mine I have to turn off then back on to take another reading. On analog the needle goes down as you bleed pressure off, no need to take another reading. Maybe its a dud. any who...satisfied with analog as log as I'm close to where I want to be.
  • + 5
 I've got an sks but it was made by Russians in the 50s lol
  • + 3
 Those are great tools. Great for adding pressure to your coyotes.
  • + 1
 What is the durability like? Weatherproofing? I have a mini pump that I like but it does not have a gauge so I was looking at the different options that I can carry on rides with me. I have always been weary of even analog gauges because I somehow killed the gauge on a shock pump, although I have to admit I carried it while doing DH.
  • + 1
 I recently got into fat biking and quickly found nearly every pump starts at 10psi; minus dedicated fat bike pumps, of course. Already owning a couple nice, traditional pumps, knowing that's what everyone else rocks and being this gauge is half the price of a fat pump, I decided to give it a whirl. It does the job. I run 8 and 7psi and after using it I would say a gauge that shows low pressure is essential for a fat bike. That being said, I wouldn't say it's needed otherwise, for other bikes. I would run no lower than 20psi on my old bike; which any pump with a gauge could tell you.
  • + 1
 I run super-low pressure (7.5 p.s.i.) in my fat bike tubeless set-up and got the SKS Airchecker in an effort to achieve better tire pressure consistency than I can get with the pinch test but it won't pick up a reading under ~10 p.s.i. It seems to be accurate above ~15 p.s.i. but that's no help for fat bike tires. Fail.
  • + 1
 Total POS... Worked fine on CX and road bikes with latex tubes. Used it once on tubeless, quit reading after that. Warranty replacement did the same thing. 3rd one wouldn't even turn on properly or recalibrate. Tossed it in a box, weeks later it would just beep randomly at night in the basement. took me forever to figure out what that beeping was... Buy the Shimano Pro model. Been using it for months, flawless.
  • + 2
 On my second SKS within 4 years. The Presta head actually stopped working yesterday. Big POS. But luckily easily exchangeable at REI or I'd buy the Topeak.
  • + 1
 Yep mine is dead too. Rubber seals have worn I think.
  • + 1
 I bought this exact gauge on Amazon about 5 years ago for about $20 and it does work well. I've found it to be well worth the money and for the record the battery has not died yet.
  • + 1
 I have had nothing but hassles with this SKS pressure gauge. It is not accurate, and gives readings all over the map. Money not well spent. I have an old beat up topeak digital gauge that is way more reliable.
  • + 2
 My floor pump gauge told me what my thumb already knew, I'd been loosing pressure overnight with my tubeless setup. Dur, Back to running tubes.
  • + 4
 why not just use the pumping feature of the floor pump?
  • + 1
 You sure you weren't "losing" pressure?
  • + 1
 Thanks bud's for pointing out my mistakes. Word on the street is, this gauge can help you to not over inflate your ego if you shove it up your ... Don't reply till you try it.
  • + 3
 If they can be used on shocks I will get one. I expected it to be a loooz more expensive
  • + 4
 get the Topeak then. I had one and it worked great.
  • + 2
 I've had a few digital gauges and the Topeak one is the best I've had so far. It feels like a solid, high quality unit. I also use it on my fork.
  • + 1
 It doesn't make much sense on shocks. If you have pressures of 100-200psi, a tolerance of 5psi doesn't make much difference. If you have tire pressures of ca 20-30psi, 5psi can be up to 25% difference.
  • + 2
 this only goes to 144psi (~10 bar); the Topeak goes to 17 bar.
  • + 1
 @karoliusz: the problem is that gauge precision is percentual, not a fixed amount of psi, so if you get 5psi off at 30 psi, you'll get 16-17 off at 100, and 33-34 off at 200psi, or more.
  • + 2
 My digital gauge matches all 3 of my analog gauges perfectly at 90psi. And cmmx, you are not 100% correct on your error estimates. I've got an analog (floor pump) gauge that reads "under" until you get to 40psi and then is dead accurate from then on to 60psi which is as high as I've taken it.

I wouldn't expect any gauge I own to be more than one or 2 psi off true. I've compared different digital gauges and found them to be within .1 psi from each other at 30psi.

And who really cares if it's not super accurate anyway, as long as it is consistent that is what matters.
  • + 1
 That's expected - middle range will be more accurate because that's where they're calibrated, but besides linearity issues (which only makes it worse), tolerance is tipically percentual.

But I agree this is kind of nitpicking and if it's working fine, it's fine, regardless of having been accurately measured or not, though it's also like torque: it's probably fine to tighten by feel if you know already from experience how tight it should feel (eg.: by having done it with a torque wrench before), but if you're just wild guessing, you'll probably be off range by more than you imagine.
Then again, recc'ed ranges probably are pretty conservative and more like optimal range, rather than absolute limit.

The point in digital gauges, tought, is you get an actual reading without having to guess from a tiny simplistic dial - here's an example: I have a shock pump that goes up to 400psi - you can imagine how inaccurate and inconsistent readings will be from such a dial.
  • + 1
 Price is super reasonable. I was honestly expecting it to be way more. Will definitely be picking one of these up in the future.
  • + 1
 Does this reviewed sks update the pressure reading when you bleed air with the orange button or do you need to take it off and put it back on again to update the reading?
  • + 3
 No. That's my only complaint with this thing. If you bleed the air from the bleeder you have to remove and then replace the air checker onto the valve. Kind of a bummer, but the things so easy to use it has never been that big of a deal for me.
  • + 2
 Had a schwalbe one and it annoyed me. With two kids every second of riding time counts
  • + 1
 if TWOKIDS=TRUE then RIDETIME>MAINTENANCE;
  • + 1
 Now build in a way to attach and regulate a mini co2 or nitrogen cartridge to inflate tires or suspension and you will really have something.
  • + 0
 I've always thought it would be cool to use one of these but don't you loose air everytime you use it which kinda defeats the point?
  • + 3
 It's not like a shock pump. You lose less than a tenth of a pound of pressure so you can get consistent readings.
  • + 2
 I have one and I couldn't be happier as I am much more consistent so I figure its worth every penny.
  • + 1
 Good to know. I was thinking of like how much air you loose when taking a floor pump off but I guess this dosent lock on and comes off easier so less air escapes. I might pick one up since we have a few at my shop.
  • + 4
 The air you hear escaping from shock and floor pumps is escaping from the hose - you aren't losing pressure from whatever you pumped up. As soon as air starts to escape from the shock or tire the valve closes instantly.
  • + 1
 People say that but whenever I screw a shock pump back on, the pressure is significantly lower
  • + 3
 That's because when you screw it back on, air from the shock escapes back into the pump (because the disconnected pump is at ambient pressure). In other words, you lose air from the shock when you *attach* the pump, not when you remove it (you only lose air from the pump at that point). So you can't really use the shock pump gauge to directly check the current pressure of a shock. A dedicated gauge will have a much smaller chamber to pressurize than a pump will, and so you'll lose much less air when you check the pressure with a gauge.
  • + 1
 Cheers dude. That helps
  • + 3
 Got it, works great!
  • + 2
 Me too! Been going strong for over a year and is used most weeks. I have a 4 mile ride to my local trails and will often pump up to 40psi for the ride over and then use this tiny thing to take down the air pressure to where I want it for the trails that day.
  • + 1
 Haha, thats the reason I got mine too. Super hard on the road and just blow a bit off at the trail head. And to think some of my friends teased me for a while after I bought this and now several of them have them and the others ask to borrow ours. Pfff…
  • + 1
 Have it for over a year now, it works great. No complaints

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