Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (3)

Even as bicycle tires trend towards tubeless for mountain, road, and now cyclocross, seating tires still remains a barrier to entry for some. Depending on the tubeless set up, getting the tires to seal up and seat on the rim can be a challenge without an air compressor at your disposal.

Enter the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger floor pump. Thanks to its built in high-volume air chamber, the pump is capable of seating tubeless tires without the need for a compressor or electricity. We just got our hands on the new pump and immediately started deflating and unseating tubeless tires around the office to test the pump’s capabilities.

How well does it work? Find out next…

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (7) Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (9)

At first you might mistake the Flash Charger for a normal pump – which is fine. It is a normal pump, at least when the red charging handle is in pump mode. Equipped with a sturdy 3 arm base and a standard Auto-Select head for presta or schrader valves, the Flash Charger will function like any other Bontrager pump up to 160 psi.

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (4)

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (2) Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (5)

The secret sauce is in the giant air chamber located along side the silver pump barrel which carries a bright red Charge handle. Set to Inflate, the pump functions normally. Flip the lever to Charge though, and you begin to pressurize the holding chamber.

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (10)

While you may think this would take all day, just 43 strokes will get you to the green/red Charging zone border. Realistically, you’ll need to go into the red for many tires. The instructions note “the upper end of the ‘Charged’ section may be the most effective,” so going into the red shouldn’t be a problem.

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor pump air compressor tubeless ready tire (1)

From there, simply make sure the Auto-Select head is properly on the valve (presta valve is open), and release the charging handle. The held air will rush into the tire, popping the bead into place. Alternately, Bontrager points out that you can remove the valve core and seat the tire before adding sealant which may be more effective on certain set ups. Then the tire can be deflated without breaking the bead, and sealant can be added through the open valve then re-inflated.

If the Charging process doesn’t completely seat the bead, the pump will already be in ‘inflation’ mode so you can continue pumping manually until the bead pops into place. If the Charging process leaves too much air in the tire, you can use the big red bleed valve to adjust the final pressure.

So just how well does it work? Honestly, it works pretty well. The holding chamber gets up to pressure surprisingly fast, but most tires we’ve tried do need the gauge to be in the red instead of the green. Having tried the Flash Charger on a few tires now, the pump has successfully seated the 26×2.35″ Maxxis Ardent tire on a Bontrager Rhythm Pro TLR rim (above) as well as a Bontrager CX3 cyclocross TLR tire on Bontrager Affinity Elite Disc TLR wheels (more on that set up soon). The pump left about 35 psi in the mountain bike tire, and about 65 psi in the cyclocross tire, and seated both beads without issue. As far as sealant and use, the mountain bike set up was fairly dry after being set up months ago, while the cross set up is basically brand new with fresh sealant.

Considering the retail of the pump is set at $119.99 which is more than some basic air compressors (though you also need to factor in the price of high flow presta valve adapters or a presta-flator), the TLR Flash Charger is an interesting product. It carries the benefits of working as a standard floor pump, not needing electricity, including the ability to pump road tires to high pressures, and being quite a bit more portable, but air compressors with a 5+ gallon tank will still probably win in the tubeless set up department, especially for things like fat bikes. We have to hand it to Bontrager though for creating a unique pump that works as advertised and provides a human powered alternative to seating all manners of tubeless tires.

We’ll continue to test out the Flash Charger on other Tubeless systems and tires, but based on our initial impressions the pump should be a hit.

Bontrager.com

57 COMMENTS

  1. Looks sweet. I feel like the quietness alone justifies the price over a compressor. Seems like mountain bikers would be the primary user, they should have made the 20-35 gauge resolution better.

  2. In my mtn bike rim, I drill a second valve stem hole, 90 deg from the tubless valve stem. I install a lightweight tube, with hot melt glue around the stem/rim interface. After injecting the tubeless sealant into the tire, I could use a mini pump to set the bead by inflating the tube. after bead is set, I inflate the tubeless valve to about 40 psi, then deflate tube & inflate tubeless as required. If I lose psi from burping at the rim or a gashed tire, I’ve been able to just inflate the tube with the mini pump to finish my ride or race. Treks pump looks like a better pump but I have a 5 hp compressor & had issues seating the bead, even with it.

  3. I’ve been able to seat tires using a Topeak Mountain floor pump. It pumps a huge volume per stroke and I’ve had good luck moving enough air volume to get the tires to seat. It’ll only top at 75psi, but that’s perfect for mtn bikes. But this charger pump is cool.

  4. _Zach,
    this looks like a very cool system. I think many readers would appreciate an update if you could try this with new / folded tires as well as fatbike tires and let us know the results.

    thanks.
    Gringo

  5. @ david would be interested in your homebrew solution. I am using a Topeak High Volume Pump that actually works, anytime it hasn’t there is been some tire/rim issue. Gas Station down the road has a super strong compressor that does the hard tires.

  6. I inflate my tires (tubeless) using a normal floor pump without any problem but I have used an air container in the past with great success.

    This is a simple combination of a bike pump with an air container, which is actually brilliant.

  7. Paintball/Air rifle CO2 cartridges work well too, and cost about between 0.50-0.75 cents a piece when bought in bulk. I’ve ridden with CO2 for years instead of a mini/frame pump. The pump is a good idea, but as a home owner I do think that an air compressor is the better purchase for the multiple duties it can perform.

  8. Why can’t a third party make a separate air chamber that uses the same concept that will work with any gauged floor pump?

    Example: piece of inflator hose with a tee in it (3 ends). Bottom of tee has a cap to screw onto a growler (i know you all have ten sitting around). 2nd end of hose tee connects to your floor pump, 3rd end has a pressure release ball valve and connects to the presta valve. The growler works as an air chamber. The whole system would basically be an air hose with some connectors and an adapter to some kind of air chamber. The most expensive part would be the ball valve, but any pump would work!

    I thought too much about this, but I think I’m going to build my own now. Time to go to Home Depot and the homebrew store.

  9. haven’t had to use a compressor in years, with tubeless ready rims + tires(& even often with older, non-ready stuff.) I like the idea, but it’s hard to justify $120 to fix a problem I don’t have. Count me curious if it works better for tubeless fat tires, though not having played with those, I don’t that they are a problem either.

  10. @sluck old propane tank would be ideal, if you have one lying around. make the part that connects into the pump a presta or shrader valve for easy pump attachment. I think you can pick up a specialized switch hitter head+hose for fairly cheap as well, for the output side.

  11. @groghunter good idea, I’m not sure what pressure a growler is rated to or how much volume it could hold. I was just trying to think of things I already had siting around that are made to hold pressure.

  12. On the subject of a growler, glass can be dangerous as a pressure vessel, though ~60PSI is probably not something to be concerned about. bigger is better though, as more volume means less needed pressure. wonder if a re-sealable 5 gallon would hold enough pressure?

  13. i wonder if using soapy water on the sidewall would help you with seating the tires easier in the “green” section.All these people comparing it to a compressor–take that compressor with you to a multi day race-cyclocross race in the pits–or on a camping trip. This pump is a game changer– i would like to see other vendors renditions when they come out though –next year.

  14. that’s not a bad idea, though larger volume could get expensive, both in cost & storage space, rather quickly.

    That’s part of what I like about the idea of a 5 gallon bucket, if it will hold the pressure: the top has all the parts, & stays in a drawer or whatever, while the bucket is still useful for other tasks. I’m not talking about the tops you cut open, either, but the ones that are used on things like brewing buckets.

  15. I like how the video was edited to not show the person sweating there butt off and rubbing sore arms after pumping 46 times outdoors in September… obviously not in humid GA.

  16. I work at a Trek dealer, our rep came in with this pump… We had all types of tires laying around. 29er, 26, Fat Tire, Road, CX, 29erplus… This pump is thebomb.com

  17. @ Jose- The bigger the cylinder diameter the more drag there is on the pump stoke due to the increased surface area of the sealing mechanism (0-ring, cup, etc.) The drag goes up dramatically as the diameter increases.

  18. I just got this pump.

    It is draggy. As mentioned.

    It also has a surprise back-pressure feature if you pump too quickly. Pump steady and it works ok.

    Worth it if you don’t wanna buy a compressor.

  19. An air compressor is one of the most versatile “tools” I own. It takes exactly -43 pumps to inflate a tire with it.

    Owe and it cost $119.00.

  20. I’m surprised no one mentioned the old and tested Coke bottle ghetto compressor. It can be built in 5minutes for next to nothing and it works every time.

  21. I tried it with a Bonty 26×3.8 Hodag tire on a Bonty Jackalope rim yesterday. The first time it didn’t work, but the second time, with just some gentle pressure on the tire above the valve and it seated immediately with 7.5 psi in the tire.

  22. Sounds, good, looks good, you don’t need one for mtb tyres & a gas cylinder would do rightly unless your a enviro-mentalist living in a tree house with wind up radios & lights

  23. I use a normal skinny Specialized track pump to do my tubeless. The secret is buying a tub of ‘tyre bead lubricant’. Get it from ebay and you’re flying. Also I apply a coating of sealant to the inside of the tyre with a paintbrush before fitting, to save on the shaking when you can’t see if you’ve missed a bit.

  24. The highest value for the pump is road tubeless tires which are generally harder to seat than mtn bike tires. One of the annoyances of the pump is using it for partially inflated tires. Air from the tires will “inflate” the pump chamber if the handle is in the Inflate position. I put the handle to Charge and pump the chamber to 115 psi or so, then move the handle to Inflate and release pressure to where I want it with the Bleed Valve.

  25. We use it on all types of tires, it nailed the 3.8’s except for 120 tpi 45 norths on surly rims. Nothing other than a hairspray bomb gets those to seat. And it works great with new tires.

  26. I purchased this pump a month ago, it worked great on my Reynolds 29er carbon wheels with Hutchison Toro tubeless tires… first go everytime.. Truly amazing… Now I have to say it did not work with my new 2015 Reynolds Assault SLG Tubeless Carbon Wheels.. In saying that the wheels are 25mm wide and I’m using Hutchison Fusion 3 Tubeless tires. The tires an incredibly tight fit, i’m guessing I need 25mm wide tires with these wheels…. i’m going to hold judgement later… I would still recommend this pump, i’m still working on those Reynolds wheels.

  27. I have never liked Trek, but they nailed this. There is clearly a need in the market, and 3 years from now many competitors will either have a similar product, or have receding sales.

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