I’ve been riding with tubeless mountain bike tyres for 2.5 years now and I think most people would agree when I say that you reduce faffage on a ride in exchange for more hassle in the garage.
With a standard track pump I could get my tyres to seat on Stan’s rims by using an innertube to seat one bead and then pumping furiously. In search of a better solution I got a high volume Joe Blow Mountain pump. This moved things on a bit, I could occasionally get a tyre up without a tube, I never failed to get something working eventually although I can recall one time throwing the pump across the garden in anger.
More recently I got a bike with 19mm internal width Giant rims which are meant to work tubeless but tyres just do not stay on the bead hook, I had reached the limit of my setup and some tyres just could not be used tubeless.
Enter the new king of the workshop – the Bontrager Flash Charger TLR. I was not too impressed with this product when I saw it announced, a bit too expensive and the air tank looks rather small. Evidently these have just arrived in quantity, the online price is down and early reviews good so I got one to hopefully solve my tubeless stress for good (my wife is so used to hearing that I have a tubeless problem she might have offered to buy one for me!).
The pump uses an inline tank to store air pressure which you then release to seat your tubeless tyre. I estimate that the capacity is 1.3 litres, assuming that the whole visible tube is used (it isn’t their style to provide any product data) and it can be charged to 160psi (possibly more if needed, again they just don’t say). If the charged air isn’t enough you can keep on pumping until the tyre is seated.
The pump is generally well made as you would expect for the money. It is sturdy and I like the high level gauge even though it isn’t detailed enough to set pressure with for an MTB. I don’t like the head much and if you were forced to use it as a normal pump you would find that the tyre backfills the tank when connected so it isn’t ideal in that respect. I should point out that I know nothing about road tubeless but I assume it would be useful for that as well. Certainly it is generally more useful for road bikes than my original track pump which is very hard work to get to 100psi.
Now you will be expecting me to report on how well it works. Well it does; simply, it is excellent. What was an awkward job peppered with uncertainty is now quick and painless. Roughly wet the tyre bead, pump 40 times, release the air and whoosh!
What could be improved? Well I’m yet to use a pump connector that I like, they all seem to be a bit rubbish, but presumably there are good ones out there that are nice to use. I tend to wonder why they didn’t make the air tank bigger (more air, greater chance of success, no?), there would be a danger of blowing tyres right off the rim through over-inflation, but they could have worked around this with a simple tyre size to air pressure lookup table.