Durable pump with multiple levers to control inflation functions, and an accurate digital pressure gauge.
digital pressure gauge;
robust body and inflation chamber
lightweight-feeling inflator head;
somewhat flexy handle
The Bontrager Flash Charger floor pump has only two features that hold it back from being a superb buy: a lightweight feeling chuck and a flexy-feeling handle. These minor characteristics aside, this floor pump excels at seating tubeless tires and inflating them with accuracy and precision.
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It used to be the case that seating tubeless-ready tires required a professional-level air compressor. One had to blast a large volume of air into the tire to instantly inflate it so that the bead would lock into place.
But what if you’re traveling, or if you live in a small space with limited or no room for a bike workshop, or can’t risk waking the neighbors with the deafening sound of the compressor cycling on?
- Technical FAQ: Tubeless tire plugs
- ENVE claims a watt’s aero savings, good all-around performance with SES road tubeless tires
- Cadex 36 Disc wheels promise stiff and lightweight performance at a premium price
Enter the Bontrager Flash Charger Floor Pump. This quiet, sub-seven-pound floor pump can deliver a rush of air to your tires so that they seat correctly on the very first try. As a relative newcomer to road tubeless, I find this pump really easy to use, and it replaced my go-to (and discontinued) Park Tools PFP-7 floor pump for everyday use.
Easy-to-read digital gauge
The built-in digital gauge — which can display pressure in bar or psi — is large and easy to read. While I did not drain the battery during my testing, the CR2032 coin cell is rather ubiquitous (the same one used in SRAM eTap shifters and Stages crankarm power meters) and easily replaceable. A single button toggles power, and when I forget to shut it off after use, it times out in about 45 seconds of inactivity. I find it to be within about 2psi of a Blackburn Honest digital pressure gauge that I am using as a benchmark.
The handle of the Bontrager Flash Charger is one of only two parts of this pump that did not thrill me. It flexes a little, especially when I lean on it to pressurize the pump chamber to 160psi. The storage compartments for accessories like inflator needles and such are nice to have (I am curious what would happen if I used this pump to flash-inflate a basketball to 160psi!). The pump piston feels very robust, while the seals made for a positive feel and effective inflation when charging the inflation chamber and also when using the pump in standard mode.
Plastic inflator head
The inflator head of the Bontrager Flash Charger Floor Pump feels slightly less robust or durable compared with other similar pumps like the Topeak JoeBlow Air Blast. Although the Bontrager pump head feels nowhere as sturdy as the ultra-premium Silca Hiro, it is holding up well after several months of regular use. The gasket inside the inflator shows no wear, and the lever that locks the head in place is holding up well despite my best attempts a giving it a workout. This is my only other minor gripe about this home-use pump, and I hope for an even more robust inflator head in future generations of this floor pump.
The hose is plenty long, and I like this. While I need to be within reading distance of the digital gauge, I find that having a little extra length in the hose makes for less wiggling around to find the best place to stand when inflating tires in the space where I store my bikes.
Charging and discharging inflation chamber
With the levers in the correct position to charge chamber, it takes me 47 full pump strokes to get the tank from 0psi to 160psi — the recommended pressure for correctly seating a tubeless tire. The final 10 pump strokes are not exactly easy and require me to put a little of my weight on the handle to top off the chamber. I could feel the handle flex while I am leaning on it, but it has so far done its job.
Once the chamber is fully charged to 160psi, the digital display will read – – – which indicates the pump is ready to do its thing.
Discharging the main chamber — inflating a tire — is just a lever flip. The air rushes from the chamber, through the hose into the waiting tire. Releasing the contents of the pressurized chamber into the tire is almost a non-event; one moment my tire is not inflated, and then it is, with the sound of the chamber emptying and the tire seating itself inside the rim. Once the chamber is discharged, the digital display shows a pressure reading equal to about half of the fully pressurized chamber.
Using the small, red button that is the chamber pressure release while the pump is still connected to the tire valve, I can drop the tire pressure to 65psi to dial-in what I feel works for my weight, for 25-28mm tires, and for the roads I most frequently ride.
Topping off tires
Once a tire is inflated, I can top off pressure in tires using the Bontrager Flash Charger Floor Pump as a standard pump. Even when tire pressure is greatly diminished — to a PSI more appropriate for ’cross than road — the pump can be used as a standard floor pump. It’s quick work to inflate tires from 26psi to 65psi in just nine strokes.
The Bontrager Flash Charger Floor Pump is easy to use and makes easy work of seating and inflating tubeless tires. While the main body of the pump and the levers which regulate the inflation chamber are robust, the inflator head and handle feel slightly cheaper in comparison. And while I still have good eyesight and do not require reading glasses, I do appreciate the large, easy-to-read digital pressure meter with auto-off functionality.
If you need a pump for seating inflating tubeless-ready tires, as well as everyday use, the Bontrager Flash Charger Floor Pump is a very solid choice.