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Bontrager Flash Charger pump review

Posted by Andrew | April 27, 2015 | 7 comments so far

Bontrager flash charger pressure guage

New from Bontrager – The Flash charger

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!).

Bontrager flash charger

Bontrager flash charger

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.

A collection of track pumps

This garage ain’t big enough for the 3 of us…

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.

Filed under Accessories, Reviews in April 2015

Andrew

About the author

Andrew is currently an absent mole, holed up down in Wiltshire and not often seen in Surrey. He can be found riding long distance challenges, running and even turbo training.

There are 7 comments on ‘Bontrager Flash Charger pump review’

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  1. tony says:

    Nice review Andrew. I’m tempted to have a “new king of the workshop” too after this review.

    But, but, but, 3 track pumps? Even as a acknowledged multi-bike (n+1=happiness) owner I only have 1 track pump. Is this the slippery slope to starting to collect them as a hobby, inventing a new term “track-pumpologist” and eventually opening your own track pump museum?

  2. Elliot says:

    I wondered if any Moles would buy one, seems like a good idea, and a real piece of design history for the budding “track-pumpologist”!

    I’ve not so far had any problems getting a tubeless ready tyre up on a tubeless rim with my ordinary volume floor pump. Maybe I’ve been lucky with the tyre/rim combos I’ve tried, otherwise I’d certainly consider one of these.

  3. Matt says:

    I really like the idea of this pump even though it’s pretty pricey. But it does look like the pump-to-end-all-pumps and I can understand why our pumpophile is so keen on it.

    Andrew if you lived closer I’d be asking to borrow it! As it is, I need to keep Dave’s number for his (very effective so far) compressor service.

  4. Karl says:

    Sounds great.. well apart from the price.

    I use the ghetto fat Coke bottle system. If that don’t work, I give up!

  5. Jemster says:

    Good idea, neat small, no electricity needed. Think I would still plump for a small workshop compressor ( as that is what I use with good results) Also approximately a similar cost involved, but it is not portable though. But as you say, you only use it in the garage.
    https://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/clarke-tiger-8250-2hp-24-litre-air-compressor

  6. Andrew says:

    I can’t argue with the comments about the price. I paid £74 for which you could get a compressor but the noise wouldn’t be suitable at the time of day I have for bike work.

    As for the collection…i’m not too impressed to be honest, there is not really a good way to store them. Both of the old pumps are now half useless and if I started setting pressures by a separate gauge there would be no need to keep them at all.

  7. DaveW says:

    I’ve not had a need for something like this as I’ve always used Stan’s rims. I have noticed though that pressure gauges on track pumps tend to be biased towards high pressure road tyres and are pretty useless for IRO 20psi mtb (or less for fat) tyres. I’m tempted by a pair of spesh track pumps – at the spesh store in Covent garden they have variants for low and high pressure…

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