Road tubeless is becoming more and more popular, with a significant percentage of the wheels we've had through lately being tubeless compatible. Some combinations of wheels and tyres inflate quite easily with just a track pump, others are much less willing, hence the fact that you can now buy a bunch of devices like this Zefal Tubeless Tank to help with the process. Unfortunately, this one isn't among the best out there.
We recently did a video group test which pitted this against some rival devices, and Liam found that it got a 25mm road tyre to seat easily but struggled with larger tyres. I've mostly been using 30mm Schwalbe S-One tyres and my experience matched Liam's – the pressure wasn't delivered as fast as it would be with a compressor, and the tyre was consequently often more reluctant to seal against the Hunt wheels I was using.
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The Zefal Tubeless tank is a simple device, really – it's an aluminium cylinder concealed in a plastic housing. There's a port on one end to which you connect your track pump to pressurise it. You'll want to make sure that you've securely fitted the pump to the tank inlet because – bizarrely – Zefal hasn't opted to fit a valve here. So if your pump head pops off the tank inlet, it will dump all its pressure out and you'll have to start pumping again.
On the underside is a hose coiled up, which you connect to the tyre valve. It uses a simple push-fit with a rubber seal onto the valve stem. The most notable detail on the device is probably the large pedal that is used to open the output and inflate the tyre. Other tubeless tanks use screw valves or levers, but this system leaves both hands free as it is easily operated by foot. Is that a significant advantage? I'm not convinced.
Zefal recommends inflating to 10 bar (145psi) although the tank can cope with as much as 16 bar (230psi); 10 bar was no problem for my track pumps, but I'm not sure they would have managed 16. With 10-12 bar in the tank, I found that, more often than not, the tyre wouldn't seal and the air would just blow out around the rim. Certainly compared with using an air compressor, it requires a bit more care. If the tyre hasn't sealed within a fairly short time frame, you've lost most of your air and you need to start over.
Zefal includes a tool for removing the valve core, opening the airway into the tyre and allowing faster inflation. This made a significant difference – with the valve core removed, the tyre would typically seal and inflate more than 50% of the time. Is that good enough? Well, no, not really, when other devices seem to work more consistently. The Beto tank we tested recently is a good example, managing to seal tyres reliably even with the valve core in place. The Beto is also a little cheaper than the Zefal, and impressed with its shop-standard ruggedness.
> Video: How to change tubeless tyres
By contrast, the Zefal's plastic casing doesn't feel quite as robust. I tested it by deliberating knocking it off the workbench onto a concrete floor a few times, and it emerged largely unscathed. One time the top half of the casing unclipped and came loose, but none of the fixings were broken, and it was simple to reassemble.
By most measures, then, you can probably buy better, and in some cases for less. The point of a device like this is to make tubeless tyres less of a faff, but if you're not guaranteed a seal then it doesn't really achieve its aim.
Underwhelming performance and less robust than some similarly priced units – not among the best available
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Make and model: Zefal Tubeless Tank
Size tested: 16 bar/230 psi max pressure
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Zéfal Tubeless Tank stores air from the floor pump and quickly delivers it to the tyre, meaning it is effective and effortless to attach a tubeless tyre.
A single pump action releases the air stored in the tank using "Boost Air System"; fitting the tyre onto the rim immediately and without any loss of pressure. The aluminum tank can hold a pressure of up to 16 bars.
The Zéfal Tubeless Tank is autonomous as well as being easy to carry using its handle. The direct connection ensures a seal with the valve without any flow loss.
In order to inflate the tank, we would recommend using a floor pump with a minimum capacity of 10 bars like those in our Profil Max range.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Connection: Presta direct
Material: Thermoplastic ABS
Weight: 1,6 kg
Hose length: 1000 mm / 39''
Recommended Pressure: 10 bar / 145 psi
Maximum recommended pressure: 16 bar / 230 psi
Tank capacity: 1 L
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Aluminium tank, plastic housing.
Rate the product for performance:
Doesn't deliver pressure as rapidly as some. I found it would almost never achieve a seal without removing the valve core.
Rate the product for durability:
There's not a lot to go wrong. The plastic housing makes this feel like a consumer-grade rather than shop-grade device.
Rate the product for value:
Widely available at less than RRP, which is good as there is lots of competition at around the £50 mark, some of which may be a better a bet.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was a bit disappointed overall. If I was buying something like this then I'd expect it to get tyres to seal every time, and that's not the case.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Simple operation with foot pedal.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No valve on the inlet, so if you disconnect your pump (or it falls off) then all the air escapes. Doesn't consistently seat the tyre – seems like it has less flow than some. Less robust than some alternatives.
Did you enjoy using the product? I was a bit disappointed overall – there are better options.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
Performance is below average, and when combined with some odd design choices (not fitting a non-return valve on the input), this makes it not very competitive at this price.
Age: 37 Height: 188cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
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