Terske titanium tubeless valves: predictably expensive, unexpectedly good
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a forever bike, commonly made of steel or titanium, that’s built to your specifications and intended to last you until you’re no longer able to pedal. Well, Lindarets took that “buy once, cry once” philosophy and applied it to a tubeless valve stem. Yep, this is a review of a titanium tubeless valve stem. You thought I’d stop at boutique bidon cage bolts?
A longer-lasting valve
Marc Basiliere, an industrial designer behind the design outfit Lindarets, is perhaps best known for creating the popular GoatLink derailleur capacity expander or ReMote dropper lever (I love this lever), both of which are produced and sold by WolfTooth.
Basiliere, who is now a VeloClub member, recently turned his attention to tubeless valve stems. And the result? A tubeless valve that’s said to be four times stronger than similar-weight alloy options, is fully rebuildable, features a clog-free design, and should last for many, many wheelsets to come. And yes, it’s made of titanium.
Regardless of whether you ride mountain bike, gravel or road, there are plenty of valves already on the market serving your tubeless needs. Brass is the original go-to material, while lightweight (and often anodised) aluminium options have boomed in recent years. There are even carbon fibre valve stems from Barbieri, but I snapped those within a week of ownership, so I won’t waste time telling you about them.
Much like with a titanium frame, weight isn’t the main feature here. Without a valve cap or nut, a regular 44 mm Stan’s Brass valve is 7.8 g, an equal length WTB Aluminium valve is 3.6 g, while a 44 mm Terske titanium valve sits in between at 4.8 g.
Weight may not be a key selling point, but the rebuildable nature of these valve stems sure is. Almost all modern tubeless valves feature removable (and replaceable) valve cores, so no points there. But Terske differs by making the valve’s seal replaceable, too. However, they’re not the only option with this feature — the likes of OrangeSeal, Muc-Off and even Terske themselves offer similar in lower-priced aluminium valves.
And where OrangeSeal and Muc-Off provide their valves with a variety of differently shaped replaceable seals, Terske offers just the more common cone-shaped one. I’ve found this shape to be compatible with the vast majority of rims out there, and personally, it’s been my go-to shape for many years regardless of whether the rim company recommends one like this or one with a more blocky half-moon shape.
“I’m sure that there are shapes that work better in theory with unusual rim geometries, but that inevitably comes at the real expense of poor performance with other geometries,” said Basiliere about the decision to offer the one valve seal shape. “I haven’t found or heard of any [rims] where ours doesn’t work. So I figure it’s better to provide one option that works consistently than make the customer roll the messy, sticky dice on which option might, on paper, be better for their particular wheel.”
Terske claims its valves will bend before breaking — unlike aluminium ones — and that the replaceable valve core will break well before damage is done to the stem. I believe that claim, but I’ve also never broken an aluminium tubeless valve. And I’ve been using such things for at least six years now. Still, with a limit on the outer diameter, it doesn’t take much until a brittle material like aluminium is pushed to breaking point. Which leads me to the next point.
No clog and easier to inflate
Tubeless valve stems are commonly the pinch point when trying to get a burst of air to seat a stubborn tyre – it can be like trying to blow up a balloon with a hypodermic needle. To further my point, removing the valve core is at the very top of the list of tricks for popping tyres into place. So given this, why don’t more valves have a wider opening at the seal-end? And why don’t more valve designs consider the impact of tyre sealant clogging that narrow opening?
Terske’s valves do just this, and there’s a visible (and measurable) difference in the opening between these valves and those that are likely in your wheels. Terske initially pursued this open and curved design in an effort to ward off tyre sealant clogging up the valve, and from my experience, they achieved this. What they didn’t intend to do — and what I speculate they’ve achieved — is a wider opening valve that makes seating tubeless tyres easier.
While hard to prove, my limited playing around suggests this to be true. It’s a conversation I coincidentally had with wheel builder Adrien Emilson of MelodyWheels in Perth, who had gone down the path of measuring tubeless valves and the variance in valve holes in rims. His technique to measure the tiny inner diameter of valve stems has been to use drill bits, something that shows the Terske valve to have about a 3.6 mm inner diameter where many other valves are around 3-3.2 mm.
Numbers aside, the anti-clogging design clearly works, and in practice, a wider diameter tube will let more airflow through. One year, two years or five years down the track, it’s obvious that it’ll be easier to inflate a tyre with a Terske valve than a valve using a more regular design.
And finally, these valves offer a thoughtful approach to profile shaping to prevent tyre beads from getting hung up on them. It’s a small detail, easily missed, but another element that’ll be appreciated by those with extensive tubeless experience.
Sizing, pricing, colours and alternative
Now the polarising part of the review: the price. Terske titanium valves are sold in a pair for US$40 (approximately AU$58) for the 44 mm version or US$50 (approximately AU$73) for a newly added 60 mm option. Why so much? Well, titanium as a raw material isn’t cheap, and machining it is more expensive, too.
Each set of valves includes some classy aluminium valve nuts which feature flattened faces and an o-ring groove. The provided o-ring isn’t intended to create a seal, but rather prevent annoying loosening of the nut and scratching of your rims.
The valves are available in three colours: natural titanium, gold, or black. There are also a few different colours of aluminium valve nuts to flavour things up a bit.
Also worthy of note is that Terske offers a aluminium tubeless valve with a number of the same features, too. These sell for US$25 a pair and exist because the company really wanted to produce an oil-slick finish valve, but found doing so in titanium to be a little too inconsistent.
Replacement parts are sold as a kit for US$10 (or US$7.50 at the time of buying valves), and that includes four new seals, four new valve cores and a valve core tool. Pretty reasonable! And a handy hint for users of other valves: those seals are also said to be the same as what many other tubeless valves (with a 5.9 mm base) with replaceable seals use.
Is there value in it?
Personally, I love the idea of buying a quality product that isn’t destined for landfill. Our world would be a better place if fewer people viewed all small purchases as expendable.
However, the past couple of years has seen more and more valves come to market with replaceable seals (and valve cores), and so perhaps you don’t have to resort to titanium in order to get a less-disposable valve option.
This product certainly isn’t for the masses, but it’ll likely find favour amongst those willing to pay a premium for something that is stronger, easier to use and longer-lasting than the competition. For me, the real value is how these magically stayed clog-free over the past few months. Beyond the price, it’s hard to find fault here.