What I like and dislike about the CushCore MTB tire insert. Cushcore is a foam tire insert that prevents flat tires. While it does offer flat tire protection it also acts an inner tire suspension system. Foam tire inserts are a new mountain bike product category, so I really wanted to take my time and get a good feel for how this tire insert behaved on the trail and share tricks on how to install cushcore on your bike.
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Set up tips:
When installing the tire push the bead into the well of the rim. Repeat that several times, because there’s probably more slack to get out. Also, I work my way from the opposite side of the valve towards the valve. That because the valve will take up unnecessary slack. It’s helpful to have something to set the wheel on when doing this. I found that an old car tire works wonder but isn’t 100% necessary.
Use wider rim tape. When pushing the bead into the center of the well, it likes to catch the rim tape. This will damage the rim tape over time, but it will also make it harder to work out extra slack from the tire to install. I ended up using 32mm rim tape on my wheel that measure 31mm internally. With wider rim tape, when you install the tire, it should already be on the rim tape and won’t have a lip to catch on.
Longer Valves. When I initially got Cushcore the valves where not long enough for my rims. I was able to use the stock valves but could not check my tire pressure amongst other things. Sometime this winter they released longer ones that made it possible for me to gauge my tire pressure as well as inflate the tire easier.
You will need to break the bead again. This is where wider rim tape helped out quite a bit. Again, go over the tire multiple times to work out all the slack. Also, I broke down and finally bought metal tire levers (with a rubber coating). I’ve never had an issue uninstalling even the hardest of tires with standard plastic levers and I was able to get the insert remove time to time with plastic levers. However, the park tool levers made my life much easier.
On the trail
For east coast riding, I like to run the lowest tire pressure I can without damaging my rim, flatting, or rolling my tire. This helps me reduce arm pump and gives me a little more comfort while on the trail I found that I was able to go down ~3-5 psi when riding aggressively and up to ~10psi if I just wanted to chill. Side note: I rode with 9spi just to prove a point, it’s not what I would actually run on a regular basis, normally I run 22-24 psi.
The biggest benefit of cushcore is that I could blast through everything without a worry. i wasn’t worried about sniper rocks, or having to slow down and pick my line carefully. I could focus on the ride. When I went back to even a downhill casing tire, I had to either run a PSI that was a bit harder than I would like to avoid pinch flatting, or running a comfortable psi and having to be careful. Also, the insert really help dampen harsh vibrations of the trail.
I don’t think this product is for most people. It has a bit of learning curve to install, and the benefits will be most noticeable for people who like to ride really aggressively. Huck norris would be a good alternative for people who just don’t want to flat and don’t want to deal with the install. That being said I think there’s plenty of refinements to be made in this category of product. Personally I will be continuing to run Cushcore on any bike I plan to ride aggressively.
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