I’ve been putting the Schwalbe Tire Booster tubeless set up canister – an alternative to a tubeless track pump – to the test over the last six months or so to see if home tubeless set up really can be as easy as it should be.
Tubeless tyres have revolutionised off-road cycling in the last decade or so, but set up issues can be one of the biggest barriers to riders opting for tubeless. With so many elements to think about, including the correctly installed rim tape, suitable tubeless valves and the crucial tyre to rim compatibility, getting to grips with tubeless installation at home is often a steep learning curve.
One thing that you’re less likely to have to hand at home though, is a compressor, where many bike shops can offer a high pressure blast of air to help pop the bead of the tyre onto the rim to seat. So you don’t need a bulky, noisy and often pricey compressor in your home workshop, brands have developed new track pumps with pressurised chambers that deliver higher pressure air rapidly for tubeless set up, such as the Topeak Joe Blow Booster (£146.99) or Lezyne Pressure Overdrive (£120).
But what if you’ve already got a track pump? If you don’t want to banish your existing pump to the dusty depths of the garage corner, then there’s alternative solution: enter stage left the Schwalbe Tire Booster. For a nifty £58 – about half the price of most tubeless track pumps – you can use this canister to deliver a shot of high pressure air for tubeless set up in conjunction with your current track pump. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Schwalbe Tire Booster on test
As a cycling journalist and product tester, there’s a lot of behind the scenes faff changing bike set ups all the time, and tyres are no exception. As I test predominantly gravel and mountain bikes, tubeless set ups are imperative.
I won’t lie, the first half a dozen times I tried tubeless set ups at home I learnt nearly every lesson the hard way, from inadequate rim tape to not-quite-the-right-shape-for-my-rim-bed tubeless valves, which incurred many trips to local friendly bike shops. Once you’ve had some practice and get used to the little tips and tricks that help you set up tubeless at home, it becomes a much smoother process*, which is a relief.
The one thing that I was missing at home was high pressure air delivery, so I had the option of a compressor or a tubeless track pump. When I tried a canister like the Schwalbe Tire Booster on a WTB photoshoot, I was really impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness of it, and wanted to see if I could get the same results at home.
Maybe half a year and many seated tubeless tyres later – both gravel and MTB for me and my partner John – and I’m ready to cast my verdict on the Schwalbe Tire Booster.
*most of the time.
How to use the Schwalbe Tire Booster
First up, how does it work?
It’s all quite simple really. To pressurise the container, use your standard track pump to attach to the top presta valve and screw on, making sure the valve is set to the off position. This is at 90 degrees to the direction of the tube, so easy to remember. You can pump the pressure up in the canister to a maximum of 160PSI (11 Bar).
Before deploying the high pressure air shot, you’ll need to make sure you’ve already fitted the rim tape, tubeless valve and tyre, with or without sealant. I usually seat the beads on either side of the tyre first without sealant, then pop one side off to add it in after and reseat to avoid too much mess with tricky tyre/rim combos!
Once you’re ready for the air, attach the hose from the Schwalbe Tire Booster to the tubeless valve, with the core removed, and then simply twist the valve on the Tire Booster to the on position (in line with the hose) to inflate.
All being well, you should now find your tyre seated all the way round, though if it needs a bit more air you can use the track pump – still connected to to the canister to deliver some extra pressure. Remove the Tire Booster hose and replace the valve core carefully before topping up to your desired pressure.
To make the set up a bit tidier, you can attach the Tire Booster canister to your track pump using the wide velcro strap supplied.
For the full Schwalbe instructions, click here.
The Schwalbe Tire Booster verdict
Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well it really is, and that’s the beauty of it. I much prefer the idea of using this add-on to an existing pump rather than buying a second, and it works just as well as a pressurised track pump too at a fraction of the price. With a quick online search, you can find these at a shade under £50, which should pay for itself over time if it means avoiding trips to your local bike shop or mechanic to use a compressor.
I won’t promise that the Tire Booster will solve all your problems though. You still need to make sure all the other elements of the tubeless puzzle are set up right: tape, tyres, valves etc. Just because you’ve now got a burst of high pressure air doesn’t mean that you can scrimp on the quality of any of these!
It’s hard to fault the Schwalbe Tire Booster, but the one thing I’d like to see improved would be a second strap for attachment to the track pump. With just one strap it is pretty unstable, so I used a spare bikepacking strap to secure it at the top to the pump.
If you’re looking to master home tubeless set up and already have a standard track pump, I don’t think there’s any other option to rival the Schwalbe Tire Booster for the price.
Last modified: 25th March 2021