by Ray Birks
One topic of conversation that pops up occasionally with my buddies on rides or road trips is, “What technology or piece of gear has changed mountain biking the most since you started riding?” We go back and forth from clipless pedals to disc brakes, suspension to tubeless tires, maybe 1x drivetrains or electronic shifting. It’s those technological advancements that not only sell more bikes but make biking more pleasurable. I’m not one to always have the latest gear, in fact my main mountain bike is now 10 years old, but I love it and it gets me up the hills and back down every time. Everything’s been upgraded at some point or swapped for newer parts but I can’t remember being as excited about an upgrade as when I got my Reserve Fillmore Tubeless Valves.
My wife asked me what I wanted Santa to bring me this year and without hesitation I replied, “Reserve Fillmore Tubeless Valves,” which was met with some confusion and a, “if that’s what you want,” look on her face. At that point I knew Santa was on my side.
It’s interesting to think that tubes, such a mainstay to the wheel/tire relationship for so long, are becoming obsolete. If you’ve set up or maintained tubeless tires you know it can be a chore. The benefits of having tubeless tires are many, less flats and less worry, running lower psi for better handling, goat head protection, but it can be a sticky mess initially and often getting the tire to seat itself on the rim can be tough if you have stubborn tires or don’t have access to an air compressor. In addition, the presta valve itself hasn’t really changed in over a 100 years and still contains a somewhat delicate, removable core that can get bent and render the system unusable. That removable, skinny valve core can also get clogged with sealant and make adding new sealant or even air difficult. More than once I’ve had to get a drill and a small bit and drill out the inside of the valve in order to add air.
One of the latest trends in the cycling sphere is high-flow tubeless valves that offer greater ease of setup and less chance of clogging. The ones Santa brought me were the Reserve Fillmore Tubeless Valves and the first text I sent to my buddy after adding them to my setup was one word – “gamechanger”. These valves are wider for more airflow, don’t have a removable core that can get clogged and allow for infinite trailside fine tuning. The company was also awarded the Design & Innovation for 2022, which is an award given to the bike industry’s highest-performing products.
How do they work? The valves don’t have a removable core but instead use a steel rod with an O-ring and cap. When you tighten the cap it pulls the whole system together and locks the O-ring against the inside of the rim making it near impossible for sealant to get into the valve. Add that to the wider diameter that allows greater airflow for inflation and you’ve got a better mousetrap. After adding them to my cross-country and bikepacking bikes here are my pros and cons:
- Easy to install
- These valves install like most other tubeless valves with a threaded nut on the outside of the rim.
- Much easier to add air to the system
- They boast as much as 3x the airflow because the diameter of the valve is wider and there is no removable core to restrict airflow. I was able to seat my tires on 2.3” tires with a floor pump and not my air compressor. I was able to seat one of my 3.0” tires on my bikepacking rig with my floor pump which made me giddy because these tires are notoriously tight and hard to get them to pop onto the rim. The other one remained stubborn but popped right on with my compressor.
- Coreless for adding new sealant
- Simply unscrew the cap a bit to let out the air, remove the cap entirely and then inject your sealant directly into the system.
- Usable Valve Cap
- Tightening the cap seals up the system and allows you to micro adjust how much air you’re releasing from the system, handy when you’ve got winter gloves on.
- At $49/pair so they’re not cheap but do include a lifetime warranty. There are other alternatives such as valves from 76 Projects ($56/pair). They come in three different sizes but from what I’ve read, are a bit more finicky to set up.
- Valve cap is necessary
- The cap helps bleed air from the system for an on-trail adjustment and allows micro-adjustments but if you lose the cap your system may lose air.
- Currently only one size
- Longer Fillmore valves with increased compatibility for deeper road rims will be available in Spring, 2022.
My overall impression is if you spend time setting up and maintaining your own tubeless system these will make a noticeable difference and give you more peace of mind while out on the trail. The cost is somewhat prohibitive, especially when the tried and true presta valves are a dime a dozen, but sometimes you pay for convenience and sometimes you believe in Santa for one more year and let him fill your stocking, 3x faster.
If you want more information on the Reserve Fillmore Tubeless Valves check out this video below.