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The Topeak TubiHead Upgrade Kit is an upgrade for pretty much any pump using a 10mm hose. It cleverly removes the valve core, allows maximum airflow for inflation, then lets you reinstall the valve core without losing pressure. Pretty nifty if you have a tricky tubeless setup.
It's an age-old truism that air flows faster when nothing's in the way, or at least it would be if anyone thought it was worth pointing out in the first place. Your Presta valve's brass centre takes up pretty much all of the actual valve, hampering the properly rapid airflow you need during tubeless setup.
If you're really lucky your tyres may seat without removing the core, but for most people it needs outing. That means when you've seated the tyre sans valve core, you then need to pull the pump head off and get the core threaded in fully before all the air falls out again. This might not be an issue if your rim design and tyre bead co-operate to hold the bead in place, allowing a leisurely addition of core whilst the tyre is flat before reinflation.
But from time to time you strike a tubeless combo where as soon as the air escapes, the tyre bead moves away from the rim wall and all bets are off. That's the problem the Topeak TubiHead Upgrade Kit was made to solve. That, and having to re-inflate a tyre you just inflated, of course. Marginal gains, less work, etc.
This upgrade kit comprises a head, hose and a fitting to thread onto various (but not all) Topeak floorpumps – both chambered and standard. It's worth noting you'll really be wanting a charger-chamber pump for tubeless work, though.
The 108cm rubber hose is 10mm in diameter and is very similar to other pumps, which makes this kit of interest to more than just Topeak pump owners.
The Blackburn Chamber Tubeless Floor Pump connector is a different size to that of the Topeak, for example, but I had no issues swapping the head between hoses (via careful use of some lockjaw pliers and a cloth to protect the connector). As the internal and external hose diameters are the same, the fit on the Blackburn hose was just as tight and I can't see any issues with this mod.
This Topeak works like any other Presta pump head – you just put it on and pump away – and there's a brass Schrader valve adapter which threads into a little keeper on the hose when not in use. For the party trick of unthreading a valve core you need at least 16mm of valve body visible, not including any locknuts. If you don't have 16mm free, Topeak suggests using one of its valve extenders. Of course to get the benefit of not having to lose all the air you'd have to leave the extender in place once seated.
The feel and fit of the head is premium. The body is clear to allow you to see what's going on inside, and the ends are machined metal. There's also a spring-loaded pressure release valve for easy head removal once inflated. This isn't a gimmick – with mucho psi inside there's a lot of pressure against the seal, which makes it harder to release and slide off the threaded sides of the valve body.
To use you first unthread the Presta locknut, then slide the head over the valve until it bottoms out. That puts the 'valve core knob' in contact with the core. A short twist aligns the indented sides of the core with the knob, so then you can unthread the core. There's a rubber ring that holds the core captive, letting it be drawn back clear of the valve body – you're then free to release the stored air into the tyre, hopefully seating in one go. You can always follow up with more air if needed.
Once you're happy, you then push the knob in and thread it back up, lightly finger-tight. You really don't need much effort here, and it's a very good idea to only ever do cores up finger-tight so you can remove them in the wild if needed.
With the core back in place you can add more air if needed, then equalise the pressure and remove the head, locking the core again. To assist removal straight out from the valve body there's a tab on the front of the head – you don't want to be removing it at an angle, lest you stress or fracture the alloy valve body.
In practice it all works swimmingly. Every core I tried unthreaded and reinstalled just fine, and the thick rubber seal the valve body inserts into looks like it will last ages. There's no mention on Topeak's website that the rubber (or any other part) is available as a spare, however. The Topeak 2-year warranty isn't bad though.
The TubiHead Upgrade Kit is a well-executed solution to a fairly common problem. Tubeless rim and tyre designs are improving to the point that, with correct taping, a newly seated tyre often stays thus, but if yours don't – and your pump has a 10mm hose – the TubiHead should be high on your shopping list.
The only way to keep the air inside your tyre after inflating a coreless Presta valve
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Topeak TubiHead Upgrade Kit
Size tested: One Size
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 who need to keep all the air inside their tubeless tyre after inflating it with no valve core in place.
Topeak says: "Premium solution for inflating tubeless tires. TubiHead's transparent body allows you to see the Presta valve core being removed, and after inflation, reinstalled with no loss of pressure. With the valve core removed, larger air volume is rapidly delivered by a standard floor pump to quickly seat and inflate tubeless tires or other large volume tires."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
HEAD Presta head with built-in hose pressure release button,
Fits Schrader valve (with included adapter)
MATERIAL Aluminum / Engineering grade polymer head, Rubber hose
ADDED FEATURE Transparent design
SIZE 8.2 x 5.9 x 2.6 cm / 3.2' x 2.3' x 1' (Head)
110 cm / 43.3' (hose length)
WEIGHT 68 g / 2.40 oz (Head)
Metal knobs and a quality finish. Nice.
Yep, works well.
Thick, strong materials. Should last ages.
Large knurled knobs and a removal tab make for comfy use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ability to fit other pumps.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only that the 108cm hose could be longer, to allow use on bikes in workstands or tyres on benches.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Nothing else like this exists, that I know of. As a replacement pump head/hose alone, it's not overly expensive.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes-ish
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a very good solution. Hard to see how it could be improved upon, except with a longer hose.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
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, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L
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.