By Simon Stewart
My love affair with tools dates back to the first time I held a #2 Snap-On screwdriver in the palm of my hand. Just holding it and absorbing the inherent feeling of quality emanating from its design was enough to ignite a lifetime allegiance to well-crafted, usually expensive, tools.
I got this imbued sense of quality the first time I picked up the Specialized UHP Air Tool. Constructed from cast aluminum, it has a solid feel, a big 350 PSI gauge and a burly oil-resistant hose attached to a beautiful two-stage valve. This clever new valve allows you to evacuate the air from the hose—but not the shock—before removing the pump. The air bleed works especially well at making finite pressure adjustments.
Specialized claims it can get to 300 PSI 10 times faster than a traditional shock pump. Well, I couldn't help myself, so I had a wee pump off. The results of this 0 -300PSI race are: standard shock pump at about 110 seconds and the Air Tool coming in at smoking 13 seconds flat. Consequently, it makes short work of any shock/fork filling duties and is integral when adding the higher pressures necessitated by Specialized's proprietary Autosag rear shocks.
There's no doubt every shop should have one; it will pay for itself in time savings within the first six months. As for everyone else – that depends, if you're like me, then absolutely, because it'll make you happy every time you use it. The Air Tool UHP meets my high standards for a tool while also making an existing procedure more efficient. Win, win.