The Flash Charger still gets the job done
Bontrager’s TLR Flash Charger was the first and best tubeless-specific floor pumps. Like the JoeBlow Booster, it’s essentially two systems in one with a regular floor pump and a secondary oversized chamber on the side.
To charge this chamber you simply flick the red lever down and start pumping. It’s intuitive and easy to operate. Once the needle reaches the red zone (around 160psi) you pull the lever back up and a big blast of air is released into the tyre.
It took slightly more strokes to reach 160psi than the Topeak, but it had no problem seating every tyre we tried it on. Depending on the tyre size (and volume) the Flash Charger inflated the tyre to around 28-29psi, but it’s easy to carry on pumping for a short while to top it up and ensure the beads are seated correctly. There’s also a bleed valve on the front of the pump to drop the pressure down again if you’ve gone too high.
The Auto-Select head on the Flash Charger works for both Presta and Schrader valves, and is locked in place using a lever, although it did stick slightly during the charging process and often needed a wiggle to release from the valve.
At 105cm, the hose on the Flash Charger is 40cm shorter than the one on the Topeak, but we could still comfortably reach a bike that was elevated in a workstand.
A top-mounted pressure gauge is handy but the numbers are a lot smaller than those on the Booster and are harder to read, especially when making fine adjustments. With its flared design, the handle is also less comfortable, but the three-foot base is stable and rarely toppled over. The handle flexes for the final few charging strokes, and there’s also a slightly cheap metallic feel to the pumping action, almost as if the plunger is scraping along the inside
In terms of inflation performance and ease of operation there’s not much to choose between the Flash Charger and Topeak’s JoeBlow Booster. The Booster has a longer hose, a bigger gauge and is slightly easier to use, but the Flash Charger still gets the job done, and is cheaper.