Tubeless remains somewhat of an enigma. When it works, it’s the bomb, but when it doesn’t, nothing is more frustrating. One of the big reasons for this is most people don’t have a compressor at home. Instead of forking out for one, Bontrager hopes you’ll shell out $119 for tubeless made easy.

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump Features:

  • Alloy barrel for smooth pump action
  • Auto-Select head effortlessly fits Presta or Schrader valves
  • Top-mounted 160 psi gauge
  • Three-arm base gives excellent stability
  • Inflates tubeless-ready tires without a compressor
  • Price: $119

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Floor Pump

Flash Charger = Tubeless Gone Wild

As mentioned, I’ve got a long and sordid history with tubeless road and mountain bike tires. I’ve run the gamut — tried all the common tricks — and it seems to go down to the luck of the draw. But, with the TLR Flash Charger, I’m batting .1000 — not bad at all.

The guts of the Flash Charger consist of a large, external canister that can be pressurized to unleash a fury of air that’s intended to seat and inflate tires all in a single motion. To load it up, all it takes is a downward flick of the red lever, thus sealing off the air canister. Then, it takes about 50 full strokes of the pump to get it up to 140 psi and ready to rock your tubeless world.

See it in action below.

My initial experience with the Flash Charger involved seating a set of Bontrager CX3 cyclocross tires onto a set of Bontrager Affinity Elite TLR wheels. The results were nothing short of amazing. Inflating and locking the bead into the rim happened pretty much immediately. All it took was a release of the magic red lever and voila… a couple of pops later and the tire was locked-and-loaded. Not only did it seat the tire in a jiffy, it has remained seated through hundreds of miles and a sealant re-load.

On the MTB side, I seated a set of Maxxis Ikon 2.2 tires aboard a set of Stan’s ZTR Crest rims without even blinking. This pump is magic. I can’t believe I lived without this thing.

I will say that the pump action is not as solid as some of the best standard floor pumps. It seems to require more pump strokes to achieve the proper pressure than I’d expect. This is likely due to the large piggyback canister that must be inflated along with the tire. In fact, when attaching the valve, the pump sucks out a fair amount of air pressure from the tires and back into the canister — thus turning “topping off” a tire into a bit more than bargained for.

To inflate a set of 25mm road tires, here’s the stroke count comparison:

  • Bontrager TLR Flash Charger: 75 strokes
  • Pedros Prestige (10 yrs old): 50 strokes
  • Spin Doctor Pro HP (brand new): 35 strokes

That’s really the only downside of the TLR Flash Charger — topping off tires is a bit of a misnomer. And, it requires many more pump strokes than other standard pumps to achieve the same pressure. This is all due to the piggyback tank that gets pressurized while inflating the tire.

The valve makes quick work of both Presta and Schraeder valves without any changes and it easily attaches to either stem and locks into place.

The Good

  • Makes tubeless a breeze
  • Seats road, CX and MTB tires with ease
  • Unleashing the fury is easy
  • Valve adjusts to Presta or Schraeder, automatically
  • Sturdy base
  • Pressure gauge is easily read and very precise

The Bad

  • Topping off tires requires a near-full inflation after the canister draws all the pressure out
  • Takes more strokes than standard floor pumps

The Bottom Line: Bontrager TLR Flash Charger

No question, the TLR Flash Charger should have a home in just about every cyclist’s garage. The ability to pressurize the system and unleash the full force of the compressed air is pure genius. Seating tires properly is now possible at home without the use of a compressor — and the crowd goes wild!

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About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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