Should you be looking at upgrading your tubeless valves? Mike Blewitt checks out Elk's Titanium Tubeless Valves to see a valve upgrade is worth considering.
Photo: Mike Blewitt
I'll be honest, when I first saw a Titanium tubeless valve flash onto my social media feed, I had to wonder why. Partly as I assumed the cost would be into triple figures, and also because steel and alloy ones work just fine. Assumptions are not fact, and while $67.50 isn't cheap for a set of tubeless valves, it's only about $12 more than one of my other favourites, Peaty's Tubeless Valves (RRP $55). And while most steel and alloy tubeless valves do work 'just fine', being made of Titanium is just one of the advantages that adds up with the Elk Titanium Tubeless valves.
First, let's look at the materials. Titanium is strong and highly corrosion resistant. I've damaged threads on alloy tubeless valves, and I just don't see that happening here. The Elk valves are about 4g heavier per valve than alloy, but still lighter than steel. So weight differences are negligible for greater reliability. I know people who have had sticks break valves off while riding, and I just don't think that's likely to happen with Titanium.
The core is the same as most valves, as it is removable. The pack of two valves comes with four valve cores, so you can replace yours easily. The valve cap works as a core remover which is handy. Especially if you still have a mini pump that happens to double up as a valve core remover! I also like that the inner bore of the valve is about 3mm, which means I can use the Ride Mechanic Sealant Exchange Kit. I've become accustomed to using this to put sealant in tyres once I set them up dry, or to remove old sealant before putting new sealant in. It's neat, and you don't need to break the bead off the tyre.
After some new tyres with your fancy new valves? See below for our recent tyre tests:
The conical head shape worked on both some NoTubes Arch rims and some carbon rims as well, and it's just about standard for tubeless valves. The rubberised cone makes a great seal against just about any rim tape. What I really like is the end of the valve stem that's inside the rim, with more 'ports' for air. While it all comes down the valve stem, it does let air push out sideways as well as straight out. This is much like the end of a CushCore valve, and as such the Elk valves would work with tyre inserts really well. While I often use a small compressor at home to inflate tyres, I did feel that tyres inflated more easily with the Elk valves thanks to the air dispersion.
As for on the trail performance... there's not much to say. The valve design meant they sealed up just as well as any other high quality valve, and haven't caused any dramas after being in place for a couple of months. Elk have coloured options for the valve cap and threaded washer, so you can colour match to your frame, accessories – or nothing!
While I did think this was a silly use of Titanium, now I think it's probably a less wasteful use of resources, compared to my box of damaged alloy valves that I keep aside just in case I can use them again.
- Strong materials
- Reliable design for sealing
- High air flow
- Colour options
- None as yet