Just In: Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump Skips the Compressor for Tubeless Tires

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

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57 Comments
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FatBikeBMX
8 years ago

This sounds useful. Curious….was a Fat tire tried out? I wonder if it would work well on those?

Flip
Flip
8 years ago

This product is so brilliant that it is destined to make Trek haters heads explode.

Stamps Transou
Stamps Transou
8 years ago

Ive tried it a couple times in the shop. It works fine. A neat alternative to owning separate air compressor and pump…

trvsmcdowell
trvsmcdowell
8 years ago

I do hate Trek and plan on buying this pump for the home shop.

SB
SB
8 years ago

Every so often even a blind squirrel finds a nut. This looks sweet.

Kyle D
Kyle D
8 years ago

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.

Psi Squared
Psi Squared
8 years ago

The pump is a great idea, but the pants in the video are disturbing.

Ripnshread
Ripnshread
8 years ago

Nice clam diggers. Cool pump too.

Eden rider
Eden rider
8 years ago

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.

Pynchonite
Pynchonite
8 years ago

If anyone knows any Trek shops that are hiring, I do accept two chamber floor pumps as payment.

Adam
Adam
8 years ago

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.

Squirrel
Squirrel
8 years ago

Blind squirrel indeed: Trek didn’t find this acorn themselves

Nate
Nate
8 years ago

Seating tires that have already been seated is not difficult. New wrinkled MTB tire out of the packing is the true test.

gringo
gringo
8 years ago

_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

Rico
Rico
8 years ago

I have a compressor but that is a good point about the noise! Great product idea.

kt
kt
8 years ago

Please test again with a new folded tire!

SamSkjord
8 years ago

I HAVE NO STRONG FEELINGS EITHER WAY TOWARDS TREK!
I do like this though.

Bod
Bod
8 years ago

Or, just buy a compressor… It’s not like you’ll fit it in your backpack when you’re riding

david
david
8 years ago

been running something homemade like this for the last year, using an old fire extinguisher as the reservoir.

SamSkjord
8 years ago

@bod I don’t fancy taking a compressor in my suitcase/bikebag though

Jesse Edwards
Jesse Edwards
8 years ago

This is a great idea.

rentedshoes
rentedshoes
8 years ago

Perfect solution for road trips or to have on hand on race day.

Darren
Darren
8 years ago

@ 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.

RebelRoundeye
8 years ago

Please try this on fat tires over 3″ wide.

dougal
dougal
8 years ago

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.

Peter R
8 years ago

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.

liljoe
liljoe
8 years ago

Just set up the tires on a Farley 6 tubeless with their new jackalope rim and hodag tires. Worked like a champ.

jose
jose
8 years ago

43 STROKES?

Jesus, make the volume two/three times the size. Its a floor pump, who gives a sh*t how hard it to pump up.

Sluck
Sluck
8 years ago

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.

groghunter
groghunter
8 years ago

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.

groghunter
groghunter
8 years ago

@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.

Sluck
Sluck
8 years ago

@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.

groghunter
groghunter
8 years ago

hmm, what about those disposable helium tanks you can buy at party stores? I think they’re like $10 bucks.

groghunter
groghunter
8 years ago

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?

Sluck
Sluck
8 years ago

Pressure rated PVC pipe? Make it in-line without a tee and have control over chamber size. Chemical welds would need to be strong.

rekt23
rekt23
8 years ago

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.

groghunter
groghunter
8 years ago

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.

t
t
8 years ago

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.

Drew
Drew
8 years ago

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

Tyreguy
Tyreguy
8 years ago

@ 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.

Jake
Jake
8 years ago

All the problems, that’s why I stay with tubes.

MS
MS
8 years ago

Bead Cheetah

Erik
Erik
8 years ago

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.

Doug
Doug
8 years ago

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.

Steve
Steve
8 years ago

I’ll wait until someone else makes one.

bbb
bbb
8 years ago

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.

Tyreguy
Tyreguy
8 years ago

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.

Mecanico do Paladar
Mecanico do Paladar
8 years ago

I use one of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_kSwfll_Cs&list=UU6kybArjvKcWNes9Wn9VVXg

Works perfect, same principle as the one presented.

paul brennan
paul brennan
8 years ago

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

Chris
Chris
8 years ago

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.