Milkit Tubeless Booster Review and Valve System
If you’ve dealt with a messy tubeless installation before, or struggled with getting a tire to seal with a floor pump… you’re in luck. Milkit’s tubeless Valve System and portable Booster are designed to make tubeless setup easier, cleaner, and doable from just about anywhere, without a compressor. Read on for our first impressions…
If you’re like me, and completely transformed into a die-hard tubeless fan boy, then you’ve probably developed a system that works for you. My process for setting up and maintaining tubeless tires is pretty consistent at this point—both on personal bikes and bikes reviewed for this site. 1. Skip dry fitting the tire first; 2. Install rim tape; 3. Install tubeless valves; 4. Install tire; 5. Remove valve core; 6. Squeeze sealant through valve into tire; 7. Reinstall valve core; 7. Inflate with a floor pump. NOTE: If you’re new to tubeless, check out our guide here.
To be honest, I’ve never really had an issue with this approach. It works. No compressor, no mess. When it comes time to add some more sealant, it’s a little bit of a guessing game though, but I figure too much sealant is better than too little. And although I personally haven’t had much of a problem, I know many folks have issues getting tires seated without the blast from a compressor. This is where the Milkit Valve System and Booster come in. At first glance, the kit may just look like a pair of valves, a water bottle, and a giant syringe. However the kit contains several clever gizmos that are quite interesting. As to whether each one solves a problem, I’m not totally sure…
MilKit Tubeless Valve System
The Milkit Valve System claims to offer a few benefits to make tubeless setup and maintenance a little easier. The kit is made up of two components: a pair of MilKit’s lightweight aluminum tubeless valves, which promise not to get clogged, and a syringe with an applicator tube that has a shutoff valve. MilKit claims that when used together, refilling and measuring the sealant in your tires is “easy, reliable, and clean.”
During setup, this means after seating your tire onto the rim you can easily add sealant, with the provided syringe, accurately and without mess. During my last tubeless setup, this saved a bit of time after the tire was seated; I was able to add sealant without the tire completely deflating (as it normally would) without the valve core installed. On my first try I forgot to let a bit of air out of the tire—the recommended pressure is 15-22 PSI—and ejected the syringe’s plunger over my shoulder, along with a half serving of sealant. My mistake. Make sure you read the instructions. From a bikepacking perspective, having the ability to potentially service a tubeless setup without losing all air pressure definitely isn’t a bad thing, especially for those running large tires that can take a bit of effort to pump up.
The syringe has two functions. First, it assists with adding sealant to a fresh tubeless install. With the valve installed and core removed, the included hose slides right down through the valve, past the rubber flaps, and into the tire. A small plastic regulator valve on the applicator hose controls both the flow of sealant and the air pressure within the tire. Once sealant has been added, you close the regulator, remove the applicator, and guess what? Your tire is still inflated!
The second function is having the ability to measure the amount of sealant in the tire without unseating the tire, and if you follow the instructions properly, without deflating the tire either. The process is pretty similar to what was outlined above, but this time the tire pressure ‘pushes’ the sealant up into syringe (allowing you to visually inspect how much sealant you’ve got) before either adding it back in or adjusting the amount of sealant. My second wheel went much smoother than the first, and as long as you’ve got a hand on that tiny regulator, and control of the plunger, it’s pretty self explanatory.
While the syringe is nice and all, the real magic is in the valves. As mentionef, the bottom of each valve, inside the tire, features a one-way rubber flap that prevents air from exiting the valve (without the valve core installed). This not only assists during setup and maintenance, it also keeps sealant from entering and clogging the valve core while out riding, which is always an issue after a while. The valves are available in a range of different lengths, depending on the depth of your rims, from 35mm up to 75mm, and can be purchased as a kit with the syringe or on their own.
Milkit Booster Bottle
The Milkit Tubeless Booster Bottle, although not quite as intricate as the entire Valve System, has proven itself quite useful. In short, it’s a portable compressor. A presta valve on the top end of the bottle is used in conjunction with a floor pump or hand pump to pressurize the bottle, and then the applicator head fits on any presta valve to give a good blast of air to assist with tubeless setups. My first shot with the Milkit Booster was with Skyler in Calgary, and it’s safe to say it surprised us both at how much punch it had! Pump it up to the recommended pressure of between 87 and 160 PSI, remove your valve core for better air flow, and push the applicator head firmly onto the valve. No hoses, buttons, or components that might fail, it’s simple and effective… and can be used as a water bottle in a standard bottle cage! It even comes with a screw on lid for that purpose.
The only hitch I see is having a pump large enough to pressurize the bottle up to the required PSI. I had to use a different floor pump since my Lezyne only goes up to 60 PSI, as it is designed for high-volume tires. I can only see the water bottle aspect of the MilKit Booster being applicable to those who have a large hand-pump that can get up into the 100PSI range, which doesn’t apply to me.
So where can it be useful? I think it’s a great option for those who don’t have room for a compressor and have issues with seating tires during a tubeless setup, which is pretty common—a stay-at-home tubeless blaster for setup and maintenance. I’ve used the Bontrager Flash TLR Charger, a floor pump/blaster hybrid, and a Pro Team Compressor which was a standalone unit. Both worked okay, but were fiddly enough that I’d rather try my luck with a good floor pump or just borrow a compressor. So far, the MilKit Booster seems like a good alternative. I’ve now made a spot in the van I’m living in for the Milkit Booster, which is incredibly easy due to its size. Milkit offers the Booster in two sizes, small (0.6L) and large (1L), and spare booster heads are also available to purchase online.
- The Milkit Booster packs an impressive punch, and can assist with seating stubborn tires.
- Portable and lightweight means it could have a place at races and grand departs.
- Simple design, not a lot to break or fail.
- Much more efficient when compared to hosed tubeless inflators or standard floor pump.
- The Booster requires a good floor pump to get up to pressure.
- Obviously won’t replace a compressor, but that’s not really a reflection of the Booster itself.
I’m not entirely sold that the Milkit Valve System will solve everyone’s tubeless woes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been fortunate enough to have successful and fairly straightforward tubeless setups thus far. Until now I’ve never really wondered about an ‘easier’ option. However, Mikit’s valves are definitely unique and pretty interesting, to say the least. They worked exactly as MilKit claims, both during the initial setup and while topping up sealant. Just make sure you familiarize yourself with the instructions. I’m also quite keen to see how the one-way flaps built into the valves hold up, and prevent valve core clogging. I’ll be sure to post an update down the road.
As for the MilKit Booster, I think it’s a pretty good alternative to a compressor. I’ve found it quite useful and surprisingly powerful for seating tires (so find me in my van this summer for a $5 tubeless setup).
Dealers are spread across North America and Europe, and there is distribution set up as well so getting your own Milkit Valve System or Booster should be doable through a local bike shop. Check out the dealer page to find out which one. Currently the tubeless Valve Kit is priced at $56 USD at REI, and around $59 USD for the Booster.