CushCore tire inserts, an inner tire suspension system. It’s a foam insert put inside your tire and pulled tight against your rim to help prevent pinch flats and rim dents or cracks. Yes, people say it’s a pool noodle insert, and to be honest, they are not far off. However, I think they do have a benefit and improve not only your riding but also the number of failures of tires and rims. CushCore’s shape is a half-circle, stretched tight around the rim. Included in our full kit are two CushCore inserts, two CushCore tubeless air valves, rim stickers, and installation instructions. I highly recommend watching their installation video and paying attention to the tips.
A few things to keep in mind before pulling the trigger on a set of CushCore:
Lastly, if you are a weight weenie, these do add weight to your rotating mass, so you might want to check out other solutions. If the first three questions match you, then CushCore could be a really good solution for your wheels.
I’m just going to say it, these are dense foam and do weigh a decent amount. Our 29” test set weighed 290 grams per insert, which is 580 grams front and rear. Adding about 1.25 lbs of rotating mass to your wheel weight is no small matter. If you are a weight weenie and worried about grams, especially rotating mass, well you’re out of luck here.
My personal installation wasn't too bad. I watched the video and followed CushCore’s instructions for the first wheel. I am not going to lie, these are really tough to get on. Be patient and work your way around. The first wheel I was following the instructions, stretching the CushCore over the rim first, then continued to install the tire, one side by one side. I found once you are able to stretch on the CushCore, it’s hard to even start getting on the tire. To put things into perspective, I would consider the three minutes it takes me to install a standard tire quite fast. My first CushCore attempt following the instructions was closer to 20 minutes. For the second wheel, I tried putting one side of the tire on first then stretching the CushCore on the inside of the tire. Although this makes it a bit harder to install the insert, I found this easier in the long run because the tire goes on much much faster. This second wheel was about 15 minutes. With time and practice, I could probably get this down to 10-12 minutes. Not fast, but reasonable considering the benefits.
While I haven't ridden many tire inserts before, I do really like the idea and think it can benefit my riding. I am on the lighter side, but finding the right balance between traction and not hitting rim or ripping the tire off in a burp has been my biggest issue. Right away, I started with the pressure I would like to run, 23 PSI front and 25 PSI rear. Lately, I have been inflating my tires closer to 26 front and 29 rear to help save my rims and tires and to prevent blowing my tire off. With the 23 front and 25 rear, I was able to maintain proper traction and have no issues. I started riding rough trails right away, almost trying to hit rocks and land sideways or hard cut corners. The best way I could describe my first impressions is the bike feels muted but solid. No dings, no cuts, no issues. The CushCore inserts really work and they work well!
After spending a better part of two months on them I had no flats, no damage to my rims, and wore out a rear tire in the meantime. After riding for about 5 weeks on the first tire, I was curious as to how the insert had taken the abuse. With only a few marks or dents, the insert was in great, great shape. I would say it could last a full season with no issues. Installing the insert the second time was also much easier as it has stretched out after being ridden. I didn't see any unusual loss in sealant either, which alleviates any concerns that the foam would absorb a sealant. After five weeks of riding, I had about an ounce less than when I started, which is a pretty normal loss.
There will be situations in which no tire or insert can prevent a flat, but the CushCore inserts will help a ton with anything else the trail might throw at you. I really have started to like the way my bike feels with the CushCore installed. If you are charging downhills, it is a game-changer. It’s so much better feeling when hitting rocks and roots, and even jumping and cornering has benefits as well. I think it’s safe to say I will be keeping these on my aggressive bike for the foreseeable future.