LifeLine’s Air Blast Tubeless Tyre Track Pump proves an invaluable bit of kit for the serial tyre swapper. While build quality and performance isn’t quite up to the standards of its more expensive competition, it's perfectly good for its affordable price.
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At the time of this review, at least, the Lifeline AirBlast is the cheapest tubeless inflator pump on the market. For your £70, the AirBlast includes a gauge mounted high up on the pump and full alloy construction – apart from that gauge, anyway, which is plastic.
There’s a nice long hose and on the end lives a CNC-machined alloy head, which is where the mode lever lives – switch it one way to pressurise the tank, the other for blowing up tyres directly.
Rather than an iffy auto-select head – as increasingly found on rival pumps these days – the AirBlast comes with a more traditional design. This involves flipping a chunk of rubber inside of the head to accommodate either Presta or Schrader valves as necessary.
Just like any other track pump, it locks onto the valve via a lever. This one is alloy and can be pretty tough to lock into place, though it rewards you with a secure seal with the valve.
It might be a bit of a pain if you’re often switching valve types, but the manual flip-head design offers super reliable engagement with the valve, whichever style you use.
Using the AirBlast is as simple as it gets and, for the most part, effective. To seat a tubeless tyre, simply flick the switch to the ‘For Tank’ position and get pumping until the gauge is in the red. Then you let rip – the pump dumps the whole lot into the tyre.
It works but, unlike pricier and more powerful pumps, it won’t blow the beads into the hooks of the rim.
Instead, it generally just pushes the bead far enough over to create a temporary seal, from where a few bonus pumps will crack the tyre into place. This is simply because the AirBlast doesn’t have the capacity of many similar pumps, but that’s a fair trade-off for its much more compact size (and lower price).
That small reservoir also gets tougher compress as you pump it up, to the point where you're having to put quite a lot of weight into the handle. Unless you’re unfortunate enough to be really struggling with a particular tyre, this isn’t a huge issue though – to be honest, I very rarely had to give it a second go throughout the test.
While general performance is good for the money, the bargain build inevitable comes with downsides. Firstly, it’s not incredibly stable and only gets worse as you put more effort into inflating the reservoir. To be fair, it’s never a game-ending issue.
Secondly, used as a regular tyre pump it’s not massively efficient. Certainly not for 29x2.5” tyres, at least.
And finally, if I were to be really picky, I would like the ‘for tank/for tyre’ lever on the body of the pump instead of the head, just so I could keep a consistently safe distance from the tyre.
For the comparatively small asking price, though, these issues are easy to live with. The LifeLine AirBlast does exactly what it’s supposed to do and, as someone who's often swapping tyres, it makes my life a hell of a lot less sweaty.
Competition for the AirBlast comes from pumps such as the Topeak Joe Blow Booster – which is double the price at £140 – and the Crankbrothers Klic Floor Digital Pump and Burst Tank, which is even more at £210.
Both do exactly the same thing as the LifeLine, but their larger capacity reservoirs are more effective and they’re generally much better made.
That said, after a few months of extensive use, the Lifeline AirBlast is holding up just fine – I've got no worries about it lasting.
Perhaps the only serious competition comes from the likes of the £50 Airshot Tubeless Inflator or similar standalone pressure vessels. If you already have a track pump you can save money that way, though of course, you won't get the same all-in-one convenience.
If you’re new to either riding or tubeless tyres, the LifeLine AirBlast provides a budget-friendly yet effective way of seating that pesky tight rubber easily. It's a little down on build quality and sheer poke against its competition, but then it's a long way down on price, too.