The Topeak TubiBooster is an air cylinder designed to for inflating bicycle tires. Most people are going to use the TubiBooster to get a quick blast of air to setup a tubeless tire. These little air tanks have been around for a while and I’ve watched people attempt to use other versions with varying success. When I put my hands on the TubiBooster at Sea Otter this year, I got the impression that it might actually be refined to the point where it could be an real solution both in the garage and on the road. I’ve been using the TubiBooster for a few months now and set up several tires and have been fairly impressed.
Using the TubiBooster couldn’t be easier. Assuming you’re already a biker and therefore own a pump with a presta compatible head on it, simply stick your pump on the fill valve and start pumping. The gauge on my older Topeak Joe Blow Pro pump stops at 160 PSI but the TubiBooster is rated to 200 PSI. Topeak and others do make pumps rated for 200 PSI + and if you’re considering buying both a pump and a TubiBooster, pay close attention to the rating on the pump. At 160 PSI the bead set with air to spare as long as I didn’t encounter any mishaps. I suspect that at a full 200 PSI you’d have room to screw up and still end up with a beaded tire.
Using the TubiBooster to set the bead on a tubeless tire is pretty straight forward. I always remove the valve core to allow air to pressurize the tire as fast as possible. This facilitates setting the bead as fast as possible. Once the core is removed, simply thread the TubiBooster valve head on to your tubeless valve stem and press down gently on the valve head to release air. After all the air is released, remove the TubiBooster and quickly place a finger over the valve stem and reinstall the valve core. You’ll loose a lot of your air pressure during this process but now that the bead is set, you can simply top off the tire with a pump to your desired pressure.
In terms of reliability, I went through this sequence a few times using a 29″ DT Swiss XMC1200 wheel and a 2.5 Maxxis DHF II tire and not once did the tire fail to bead up. I will say that if you’re pulling a brand new tire out of the box, you might need to take a minute to situate it on the rim. Make sure the tire beads are not folded inward and that they’re spread out as much as possible. If you have a really difficult tire, sometimes an extra set of hands or a few zip-ties are helpful. The TubiBooster is not a 30 gal compressor tank, it’s only 1000 cc and some care must be taken to not loose too much air.
Typically, after all air was released, I wound up with a tire that was beaded and sealed but with pressure so low that it wouldn’t register on my Topeak Smartgauge D2. Some of this attributable to the fact that I removed the valve core and lost a lot of air reinstalling. I think it’s worth it to remove the valve core to have a more reliable beading process but it is technically possible to set the bead with the vale core in place. If you go that route, be warned that the process will be a bit less reliable. Personally, I’d rather have assurance that the bead will set in one shot then use a floor pump to set my desired riding pressure.
Just for grins, I let all of the air out of a tire that was already beaded and gave it a shot from the TubiBooster filled to 160 PSI. That got me to 18 PSI which is not quite ride-ready but pretty close. I think if I had a floor pump on hand to fill the TubiBooster to 200 PSI, I might have hit pressures in the low 20’s which is where I typically ride. The other take-away in this exercise is that it makes zero sense to fill the TubiBooster just to air up a tire. This was probably obvious to many of you but I wanted to know for sure so I went through the motions. That’s not really a knock against the device, it performs brilliantly for it’s intended use.
The TubiBooster has another neat trick. The head can be removed from the cylinder used with threaded CO2 cartridges. This could be handy if you need a blast of air and are in a hurry or don’t have an adequate pump on hand to refill the cylinder to high pressure. I’m not sure if I would ever be tempted to expend a CO2 cartridge instead of just pumping up the tire with a floor pump but the option is there and options are usually a good thing. Wrapping this all up, the TubiBooster is perfect for anyone looking for an inexpensive and reliable method to setup tubeless tires being in the garage or while traveling. The fact that the TubiBooster is small and light enough to throw in the truck for road trips is a huge plus. I keep mine in my travel tool kit, inflated and ready to deal with unexpected trail-side tire swaps.
MSRP: $69.95 USD
Volume: 1000 cc
Max Pressure: 200 PSI
Compatibility: Air / threaded CO2 cartridges
Fill Head: Presta valve only
Words & Photos: Toni Walbridge