When I learned last fall that Josh Poertner had left his position as the head of Zipp’s brain trust, I was crestfallen. Of the many industry engineers I’ve talked to about aerodynamics, Josh is as smart as they come and as clear in his explanations as a university professor. I hated the idea that I wouldn’t be talking to him anymore.
Then I learned that he had single-handedly taken on the mission of stoking the fire under the legendary Silca brand. Well, if anyone can do it, he can.
The first products I received from him are the EOLO III regulator plus Silca’s Ultra-Premium CO2 cartridges. I’ve got regulators like I’ve got socks. I can lose one for weeks on end and not miss it, only to rediscover it, use it and then remember how much I disliked it in the first place. Maybe the losing had been somewhat deliberate.
I want a couple of things in a regulator. First, I want it to function without fail. That means I want it to shoot out CO2 when I need it to. I want it to save any remainder when I want it saved. I’d prefer for it not to freeze to my hand. And I want it not to take up much room in my seat bag because I don’t use those duffels from Sackville that Grant Peterson likes.
The EOLO III has proven in just a few short weeks to be my new fave. It does get cold when I use it, but thanks to the little ring insulators, my fingers only get cold, they don’t stick to the aluminum. The kit comes with plenty of replacement insulator rings. This serves two purposes; you can customize your regulator to, say, evoke the Gulf team colors, or maybe your alma mater’s scheme. Sooner or later I expect lots of people will be using these and having them individually distinguishable will be handy if your group roars through a field of broken glass. (Hey, it’s happened.) I suppose they might wear out and break, so replaceability is handy, too.
I’ve got enough experience with CO2 to know that not all cartridges are filled equally. As Josh notes on the Silca site, a 16gm cartridge is only required to hold a minimum of 14gm of gas. That can make for a significantly different ride. And because I know no one who rides with a tire gauge, being able to rely that your tire is inflated to a safe pressure following a flat really shouldn’t be negotiable.
Here’s where CO2 use gets weird, though: the moment I try to square my preferred pressure and size tire with the volume of either 12 or 16g cartridges. I have it from several sources that a 12g cartridge should (under ideal circumstances) fill a 23mm tire to 94 psi and a 25mm tire to 90 psi. A 16g cartridge should inflate a 23mm tire to 130 psi and a 25mm tire to 120 psi. A 12g cartridge and a 23mm tire line up perfectly—or nearly so. However, any lost gas at all will result in lower than the projected pressure, and if I’m running 25mm tires I have to use 16g cartridges and then stop filling the tube at some point that seems to be most, but not all, of the gas.
Using 12g cartridges is my preferred method of inflation for 23mm tires, but it requires keeping a bulky inflator in my seat bag. I’m finding myself running 25mm tires more often these days, which makes the smaller inflator and the 16g cartridges preferable. I can carry only two cartridges, while if I’m carrying 12g cartridges I make sure I have at least three—just in case. My one issue is that while I don’t mind stopping short during inflation, I know that my thumb isn’t great at telling 80 psi from 100 psi. I figure that I may be running as little as 80 psi and as much as 110. Honestly, there are bigger problems.
The EOLO III regulator plus two Ultra-Premium CO2 cartridges go for $47.50. Most of what you’re paying for is the regulator. Another two cartridges is $12. That’s still a fair amount to pay for CO2, especially if you’re accustomed to buying a dozen 12g cartridges from the paintball place for about the same amount. Still, consistent inflation and space-saving efficiency do have their value. And when I mount up those 28s in the garage, you know I’ll want nothing but 16g cartridges in the seat bag.