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The Blackburn Chamber Tubeless Floor Pump is a top-class way to get your tyres seated, and keep them inflated. As with all things tubeless there's never a guarantee of success, but for all but the worst combinations you should be OK. With Blackburn's lifetime warranty, this may be the last floor pump you'll ever own.
Tubeless tyre setup is a beast of mythical proportions, the difficulty in besting it often trotted out by tubeless naysayers as the reason to stick with Robert Thompson's 1847 invention, the inner tube. Fortunately for those of us not inclined to be hanging about a roadside of a wet and windy Sunday morn faffing with spare tubes and bikes in bits, tubeless tyre compatibility and setup has come on in leaps and bounds.
When installing a tubeless tyre (or after adding sealant) one thing you almost certainly need in your shed is a tubeless charger tank of some design, to get the strong initial inrush of air to seat the tyre bead on the rim. The idea of a charger tank is to get a large volume – typical over a litre – of air up to around 150psi or more. A 35mm tyre is about two litres in volume, meaning allowing for leakage as the tyre seats, once the pressure is balanced out your tyre is about 50-60psi – approximately the safe maximum for tubeless.
As you can see, more means more in the successful-inflation stakes. I make the volume of the Blackburn Chamber to be about 1.2 litres – so paired with the maximum pressure of 160psi, it will be an ill combination of tyre and rim that would defeat it.
The construction of the Chamber pump is first class. Most of it is alloy, and the feeling is of real quality. Blackburn offers a lifetime warranty, which I'd say is well worth considering here, given the high pressure nature and finicky little parts inside anything with a gauge and switches.
The standout feature here is the enormous analogue gauge, sitting at the top of the chamber where it's most visible. Both psi and bar scales are easy to read, and there's a bright green zone indicating charged status. I'm a big fan of analogue gauges, finding them easier to read and more stable than digital ones which can jump about the place as pressures settle.
On the left side of the gauge is the Charge/Pump/Release lever. Again this is alloy, and represents the business end of functionality. You set the lever to charge by locking it in the up position, then, once the pressure is reached, flicking it down to inflate. The lever is spring-loaded, so the release to dump air into the tyre is given its best shot.
The air is delivered via a 5ft-long supple hose on a swivel mount, which is therefore able to reach valves a good 2m above floor level. This makes the Chamber a great pump for checking and maintaining pressure in the tyres of bikes hanging from wall or ceiling racks, or on the roof of a car. A downside of the long hose is restriction of airflow compared with a shorter length, but I'll get to that. The hose is stored by looping around a hook at the bottom, then pressing into a recess in the centre of the handle, allowing the pump to be picked up and moved by the handle as well. Tidy.
The pump head is a multifunction auto head, accepting Presta, Schrader and Dunlop valves without adjustment. The locking lever is again alloy, and is curved to be easily actuated by your thumb without needing a second hand.
The standout feature of the head, and a major boon of the whole pump, is the red bleed button. This lets you release air with perfect timing, to settle on your desired pressure. The head has a reversible rubber collar, by default set for 20mm or shorter Presta, so most people would need to flip if for longer than 20mm. The air bleed doesn't work on Dunlop valves.
Checking the accuracy of the Chamber against several other pumps and the excellent SKS Airchecker gauge, they were all within a psi of each other – and a difference easily accounted for in the pffsss! removing/attaching the next head. So that's a win.
The base of the Chamber is metal, and it sits firmly on a flat surface. It's perfectly-doable to plant your feet over each wing of the base for added stability if needed. Also in the base is a water drain screw, which gets partially loosened off every now and then to drain out moisture.
A unique feature of the Chamber is the handle – it's literally a cut-down flat handlebar measuring 410mm wide. It has quite aggro grips that wouldn't look amiss on a mountain bike, and has a standard 31.8mm four-bolt faceplate holding it attached – so yes, you could swap it out for any handlebar you wanted. I found the width to be about right, and I think easier to pump than most handles which are usually a lot narrower.
It takes 50 strokes to get the Chamber fully charged to 160psi – not bad considering the volume it's pressurising. That pressure is reached with little additional effort in the second half of the gauge, unlike some pumps which get much stiffer as they approach their maximum.
A 28mm 700C tyre gets to 70psi with 25 strokes, to 100psi with 36 strokes, and a 2.2in 29er mountain bike tyre gets to 25psi with 40 strokes. These may not seem impressive – and indeed they aren't, taken in the raw. The Joe Blow Digital floor pump and even my venerable decade-old Blackburn Charger both inflated to these pressures with around three-quarters the number of strokes compared to the Chamber.
The reason the Chamber seems sluggish here is because it's also pressurising the chamber at the same time – it takes about nine strokes to charge 25psi in the Chamber, meaning stroke for stroke the Chamber is about on par with other non-tank pumps, but there's no escaping that inefficiency for standard pressure checks and inflations. Indeed, you want the pump to pass through once the air tank has discharged. This is so that once the tyre has seated you can then continue to inflate, to finally pop the beads over the rim hooks if not fully seated, or to buy more time to slosh sealant about any leaks.
This would possibly be a deciding factor in whether the Blackburn Chamber is for you. You're mostly paying about £100 extra for the tank capacity and integration here – going off a few experiments with the Birzman 1.2L tank, the Chamber seems about the same volume.
Of course, in the world of tubeless, nothing is ever perfect – including the Blackburn Chamber. I seated a number of tyre and rim combinations no problem, first time, and the tank volume meant little or no need for quick follow-up strokes to seat beads properly. But when pairing a Mason X Hunt Four Season rim with a 35mm René Herse Bon Jon Pass tyre there was simply no way the Chamber could get it to seat both beads at once. I tried every trick in the book – removing the valve core completely, pinching the sidewalls out, laying it flat and so on – no luck. The tyre did eventually seat with a blast from the Birzman Pump Up tank – inflated to its max by a 220psi pump, and using the trick of removing the brass inner valve core to give maximum throughput while still having a Presta body to screw on to.
The Birzman has a similar volume, but critically it runs at 220psi and has a hose less than half the length of the Chamber, with a simpler head arrangement. There's a lot to be said for more pressure, and reducing anything in the path of flowing air. Often even a small gain can make the difference between a successful seating and frustration – in this case I found the limit of the Chamber's capability, but again, they aren't designing for worst cases.
All this said, you don't have to spend £150 for pump-booster integration – Stu liked the Beto Surge pump at £60, and closer to the Chamber in build and capability is the £140 Topeak Joe Blow Booster that Jon gave a 3.5/5 score to – only a two-year warranty, mind.
Overall, the Blackburn Chamber left me impressed, even at the premium price. It's borderline-artisanal quality, with great features like the long hose, auto-valve head, super-large accurate gauge and bleed button. A lifetime warranty is a real plus when you're spending this much, and the ergonomics of the wide bar are great. Recommended.
A great way to seat most tubeless tyres, with some very good features and a lifetime warranty
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Blackburn Chamber Tubeless Floor Pump
Size tested: 160psi max
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?
It's for people wanting to maintain tubeless tyre systems for all sizes, as well as for general floor pump duties.
Blackburn says: 'If you're a tubeless tire convert, you'll wonder how you lived without this pump. Just pressurize the chamber and with a simple flip of the burly switch, all that air floods the tire, giving it no option but to seal and air up. Once the tire's in place, flip the switch back to bypass the chamber and you can top it up accurately with the giant gauge.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Two-position switch to charge or inflate
* Direct-to-valve technology lets you pump tire instantly
* Includes riser bar with comfortable grips
* 31.8mm stem clamp accommodates your favourite handlebar
* Includes 4ft hose
* 2.75in top-mounted gauge lets you read pressure without stooping
* Button on the pump head lets you micro-adjust pressure
* Works with Presta/Schrader/Dunlop valves with the flick of a lever
* Aluminium barrels
All the features come together into a great pumping experience.
It's built like a tank.
The wide bars and smooth action make for a good pump experience. The grips may be harsh for softer hands, mind.
£150 is indeed a lot – but it's pretty much on a par for price and capability with the premium offerings of the best brands, like Topeak and Lezyne. And you're getting a lifetime guarantee.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
With one notable exception (the one tyre it couldn't seat), it was a brilliant pump.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The long hose, and the huge gauge.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Really, it's only the lower max pressure – it would be great to see it hit 200.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Beto's Surge pump is £60; Topeak's Joe Blow Booster is £140.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If the max pressure was more like 200psi I'd bet the Chamber would seat every tyre possible – that's really the only thing I can mark it down on. That said, it'll probably do all the tyres you need, and the lifetime warranty is a real factor too. It's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.
Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.