Filling up high volume tires and setting tubeless tires can be a real workout if all you have is a floor pump lying around. Some rim and tire combinations just do not want to seat no matter what you try. Bontrager brought their Charger pump to the market last year, solving this issue with a large volume chamber that could seat even the most stubborn tires with the flick of a switch. While it was a revolution in the pump market, it had a few weaknesses that we addressed and it looks like a few others did too. It’s great to see brands react to feedback and Bontrager’s new Flash Charger pump seeks to address those issues and more. We’ve been using it in the shop and at the trailhead for several months now and are ready to report back.
The TLR Flash Charger pump is somewhat of a mystery when first approached. It has two chambers, two switches, and a digital readout. Luckily, everything is well labeled, and the concept is self-evident after about 30 seconds of playing with it. The left side of the pump has a switch that allows the pump to either inflate strait from the pump or charge the chamber and the other side is the pressure release to inflate a tire from the charge chamber.
The inflator head is similar to other Bontrager units, leak free and universal for presta or Schrader. Bontrager has hidden inflator needles in the handle of the pump so you aren’t stuck looking when you need to inflate that unicorn floaty. The gauge is now digital with a max readout of 160psi and it is backlit for visibility at night. The whole package is covered by Bontrager’s unconditional guarantee, if you don’t like it, bring it back within 30 days for a full refund.
The new switches are a bit smaller than the old design but no less easy to use. They have firm detents that keep them in place and the clear labeling even allowed Drew “el jefe” to use it after some trial and error.
Max pressure for the chamber is 160psi, which takes about 15-20 second of pumping and has enough pop to fill even the largest e-bike tires to about 30psi. The updated option to separate the chamber from the pump is critical when just topping off your tires for the day or getting a tubeless setup up to pressure. Due to the high pressures required for the chamber, the pump is somewhat low volume and takes longer than Bontrager’s dedicated high volume pumps to get a tire full, but the trade off had to be made somewhere. We think the utility of the charger chamber outweighs any negative of the small volume pump.
The gauge is digital and large. It is easy to read in any light conditions thanks to a red backlight. We tested it several times against standalone pressure gauges and it was never more than 1psi off. The extra cost is worth just his gauge alone. A battery gauge is also visible on the pump, we have been using it for 3 months with 2/3 battery still showing, so we would expect it to last a full season.
If there is one pump you are going to always have in your garage, the Bontrager TLR Flash Charger Pump is the one. Bontrager got it 99% right, we would just like to see the volume of the pump increased a bit. This is a great pump to fill all your high volume e-bike specific tires.