Home
We put systems from Bontrager, Beto, Zefal and Scwalbe to the test to find the best tubeless inflation system.

With the rise of tubeless systems, the need for easy inflation has also gone up. We've taken 4 tubeless inflators and pitted them against each other to find out which one is best.

We tested each system with a 25mm road tyre and a 32mm cyclocross tyre to see which coped best with a larger volume. We used the same rim, with no sealant and all the systems were pre-loaded to 160psi. 

It's quite clear to see that the larger volume tyre needs some help from sealant

Buyers Guide to tubeless wheels

The contenders for this illustrious prize are:

1. Bontrager Flashcharger TLR - £99.99

2. Beto Tubeless Air Tank - £49.99

3. Zefal Tubeless Air Tank - £64.99

4. Schwalbe Tire Booster - £54.99

We'll have full reviews of each system very soon so keep checking back!

Buyers Guide to tubeless tyres.

 

 

Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.

20 comments

Avatar
Yemble [57 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

How do these compare to a regular 16g co2 cartridge emptied in one go?

Avatar
mike the bike [995 posts] 11 months ago
1 like

 

What a carry-on!  Another sixty-quid added to the cost of going tubeless.  I'll wait until they've got the technology right before diving into the unknown.

Avatar
KiwiMike [1325 posts] 11 months ago
5 likes
mike the bike wrote:

 

What a carry-on!  Another sixty-quid added to the cost of going tubeless.  I'll wait until they've got the technology right before diving into the unknown.

I've been using tubeless for two years now and would never go back. I don't own one of these devices, having made myself one from a 2L coke bottle wrappped in duct tape, a few valves, a hefty bulldog clip and some fishtank airhose. Required as I did get sick of a few tyre/rim combos not going up first time with a standard trackpump, which they often do now things have progressed.

That said, to argue that £60 is a barrier and reason not to 'go tubeless' into 'the unknown' - doesn't bear scruitiny. The benefits of tubeless are evident the entire time you ride - lower rolling resistance, better grip, and basically zero flats, meaning zero roadside faff and cost of tubes. I haven't purchased an inner tube in two years, and have only had to use one once when the tubeless tyre suffered a flint stone slash that would have killed any tyre. I ended up repairing that Schwalbe One back to tubeless with an AVT repair kit, then doing another 3,000 miles on it until its retirement from lack of tread. 

Devices like these are akin to a decent derailleur hanger gauge or 40+Nm torque wrench - even if you ride lots you might only need it a few times a year - but it's worth every penny when you do and will last a lifetime.

Avatar
Team EPO [129 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Having used tubless on my mountain bikes for a while, the ease of fitting has a lot to do with tyres being fitted and that road tubless is harder than road but worth the effort. Youtube is also really helpful for fitting tips, GCN always deliver some quality content.  Or just buy the wheels from Hunt and they will install them for you!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLd6HljqhzGnllLCzjDD9Cbz_Qe3bqC0Jn

 

 

 

 

Avatar
Miller [69 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

That Schwalbe Tyre Booster looks like a rebadged Airshot. Good product.

http://www.airshotltd.com/

Avatar
maldin [147 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
Yemble wrote:

How do these compare to a regular 16g co2 cartridge emptied in one go?

 

CO2 will do the job as well, but for me at least, it felt like I was spending £1 every time I did it  1 Of course the others have costs too of course, but once paid for you never need to think of the cost again and they ought to last a life time. At ~£1 per CO2 cartridge  I've likely "saved" £25 so far since I bought my Airshot. 

 However, the main thing against CO2 is that unlike the devices above, CO2 cartridges get really really cold for a brief period. Some sealant manufacturers recommend against using them or doing so carefully so that the temperature shock doesn't affect the sealant in the tyre and render it useless. 

Avatar
kevvjj [310 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
maldin wrote:
Yemble wrote:

How do these compare to a regular 16g co2 cartridge emptied in one go?

CO2 will do the job as well, but for me at least, it felt like I was spending £1 every time I did it  1 Of course the others have costs too of course, but once paid for you never need to think of the cost again and they ought to last a life time. At ~£1 per CO2 cartridge  I've likely "saved" £25 so far since I bought my Airshot. 

 However, the main thing against CO2 is that unlike the devices above, CO2 cartridges get really really cold for a brief period. Some sealant manufacturers recommend against using them or doing so carefully so that the temperature shock doesn't affect the sealant in the tyre and render it useless. 

I'm at the other end of the spectrum. Planet X have CO2 cartridges for 79p. The cheapest price I can find for any of the above is £48 for the Airshot. That's about 60 inflations. My MTB tubeless tyres go up with just a track pump (so no need for any of the above).  My road tubeless aren't as willing, but I have had my current road tubeless tyres on for over 18 months and there's plenty of life in them yet. Assuming I change them ever two years and allowing for inflation it would take me over 20 odd years to recover my costs. I have not found any issues with CO2 and sealants either.

Avatar
mike the bike [995 posts] 11 months ago
1 like
KiwiMike wrote:
mike the bike wrote:

 

What a carry-on!  Another sixty-quid added to the cost of going tubeless.  I'll wait until they've got the technology right before diving into the unknown.

..... I don't own one of these devices, having made myself one from a 2L coke bottle wrappped in duct tape, a few valves, a hefty bulldog clip and some fishtank airhose ..... 

 

I rest my case.

Avatar
jterrier [151 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Most tubeless systems should inflate with just a track pump. Certainly do if you use stans rims. If not, then a coke bottle inflator is ideal. These things are good, but going up to 160psi is insane. You will probably take the sidewall out of the tire. If it doesnt seat at 50/60psi it probably never will.

Avatar
. . [190 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
jterrier wrote:

Most tubeless systems should inflate with just a track pump. Certainly do if you use stans rims. If not, then a coke bottle inflator is ideal. These things are good, but going up to 160psi is insane. You will probably take the sidewall out of the tire. If it doesnt seat at 50/60psi it probably never will.

The tyre won't end up at 160psi.   Say the tyre and inflator have the same volume (seems a reasonable estimate), they'll both end up at 80psi.  In reality less, as some air will leak before it seals.

As an aside, I have wondered whether a car tyre could be used as a cheap tubeless inflator?  Only 30ish psi, but lots of volume.  Has anyone tried it?

Avatar
Ad Hynkel [163 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

My experience is these are not absolutely necessary for road tubeless: Stans Alpha rims, Hutchinson Intensives and Bontrager TLR R3s. Both tyres mounted pretty easily first time, though as the tyres got older and with any remounts it was a bit trickier. This is where a bit of learned technique is needed/has to be developed. That might put some off. Fair enough. If not then being careful how you place the beads on the rim and around the valve brings a better chance of success and sticking some sealant in before you inflate helps too (don't do this on your best carpet).

Avatar
logomomo [8 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I find some tyres (R3s in particular) popped on to the rims of my ultegra wheelset with a track pump but Hutchison Sectors just wouldn't go on to my Hunt wheels. I wasn't prepared to spend £50+ on a tank so like so many others, i built my own out of a 2l bottle with some sticky tape and some old valves/5mm tubing (check youtube for easy to follow instructions).

To be honest it didn't seem to work at 80-90 psi so i donned the safety specs and got the tank pressure up to ~100psi and they popped on straight away.

Dont waste your money, DIY!

Avatar
Welsh boy [446 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
mike the bike wrote:

 

What a carry-on!  Another sixty-quid added to the cost of going tubeless.  I'll wait until they've got the technology right before diving into the unknown.

 

I've recently gone tubeless and fitted the tyres with a standard track pump which I already had which I bought from Aldi (or was it Lidl), no need for one of these things.

Avatar
Liam Cahill [88 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

Yemble wrote:

How do these compare to a regular 16g co2 cartridge emptied in one go?

Co2 is great, but it's a one-shot thing, and if you have a difficult new tyre that won't seat, all the air will just mock you by spilling out of the sides.

Avatar
imajez [99 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
logomomo wrote:

I find some tyres (R3s in particular) popped on to the rims of my ultegra wheelset with a track pump but Hutchison Sectors just wouldn't go on to my Hunt wheels

Putting Hutchinson Sector 28s on my Pacenti SL25 was the easist tubeless combination I've yet found.  A couple of strokes with track pump and they seated perfectly.

Someone needs to collate tyre/rim combinations and their ease of mounting as it's quite obvious from hearing a variety of people's experiences, that some pairings work really well and others do not.
Reviewers should also try tyres with several varied rims and test rims with several varied tyres before coming to a conclusion about how easy something is do tubeless. A sample of one combination is rather meaningless in reality.

Avatar
imajez [99 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Welsh boy wrote:

I've recently gone tubeless and fitted the tyres with a standard track pump which I already had which I bought from Aldi (or was it Lidl), no need for one of these things.

Many tyre/rim combos will not easily seat with just a track pump, hence why these devices were invented. Some will, most of mine won't though - then I use a compressor, which I happened to have anyway.

Avatar
Hoffmonkey [6 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
kevvjj wrote:
maldin wrote:
Yemble wrote:

How do these compare to a regular 16g co2 cartridge emptied in one go?

CO2 will do the job as well, but for me at least, it felt like I was spending £1 every time I did it  1 Of course the others have costs too of course, but once paid for you never need to think of the cost again and they ought to last a life time. At ~£1 per CO2 cartridge  I've likely "saved" £25 so far since I bought my Airshot. 

 However, the main thing against CO2 is that unlike the devices above, CO2 cartridges get really really cold for a brief period. Some sealant manufacturers recommend against using them or doing so carefully so that the temperature shock doesn't affect the sealant in the tyre and render it useless. 

I'm at the other end of the spectrum. Planet X have CO2 cartridges for 79p. The cheapest price I can find for any of the above is £48 for the Airshot. That's about 60 inflations. My MTB tubeless tyres go up with just a track pump (so no need for any of the above).  My road tubeless aren't as willing, but I have had my current road tubeless tyres on for over 18 months and there's plenty of life in them yet. Assuming I change them ever two years and allowing for inflation it would take me over 20 odd years to recover my costs. I have not found any issues with CO2 and sealants either.

 

Don't forget that these devices still have inherent value - so you have to factor in what you can sell it for  before comparing the costs vs using a throw away CO2 cartridge...

Avatar
Jimmy Ray Will [828 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes

I've moved over to Tubeless on the MTB fairly recently. When fitting I was instructed to apply soapy water on the bead of the tyre. 

From my attempting to cut corners, I have discovered this soapy water application does make a big difference in ease of sealing.

I can fit the MTB tyres with a standard pump with little effort. 

is this common for road tyres as well? 

Am looking to make the switch to tubeless for the race bike as BC have removed the lap out rule in circuit races... if you puncture in a crit, your day is done, so I'm looking to minimise the risk of a flat. 

If I think back to previous punctures in races (always on a great day in a big race!) only one would not have been a straight forward seal for a tubeless set up. 

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1243 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

I've moved over to Tubeless on the MTB fairly recently. When fitting I was instructed to apply soapy water on the bead of the tyre. 

From my attempting to cut corners, I have discovered this soapy water application does make a big difference in ease of sealing.

I can fit the MTB tyres with a standard pump with little effort. 

is this common for road tyres as well? 

Am looking to make the switch to tubeless for the race bike as BC have removed the lap out rule in circuit races... if you puncture in a crit, your day is done, so I'm looking to minimise the risk of a flat. 

If I think back to previous punctures in races (always on a great day in a big race!) only one would not have been a straight forward seal for a tubeless set up. 

I fitted tubeless tryes recently (stans grail rims, schwalbe G one tyres)

I did get them to seal with soapy water, i could not get them to seal without. i would not describe the process as "little effort" furious pumping is closer to the mark. It has been suggested a co2 gas cartridge could be up to the job, I may try that next time i fit tyres.

Avatar
wycombewheeler [1243 posts] 11 months ago
0 likes
. . wrote:
jterrier wrote:

Most tubeless systems should inflate with just a track pump. Certainly do if you use stans rims. If not, then a coke bottle inflator is ideal. These things are good, but going up to 160psi is insane. You will probably take the sidewall out of the tire. If it doesnt seat at 50/60psi it probably never will.

The tyre won't end up at 160psi.   Say the tyre and inflator have the same volume (seems a reasonable estimate), they'll both end up at 80psi.  In reality less, as some air will leak before it seals.

As an aside, I have wondered whether a car tyre could be used as a cheap tubeless inflator?  Only 30ish psi, but lots of volume.  Has anyone tried it?

 

so if the car tyre is 14 x the bike tyre volume the combined system will balance out to 28psi. I have found the tyres only seal at pressures above that, so i can't see how it would work. In addition how are you letting the air out of the car tyre and into your bike tyres? the car tyre valve will not allow this.