Foam inside your tires? Yup, you read that right. CushCore Tire Inserts have become increasingly popular and with riders pushing their bikes harder and harder, it makes sense to have an added layer of protection for your tires. In this review, our customer Devon set them on his DH bike. Check it out!
Don't ask questions, just buy them. Now. Then while you're waiting for them to arrive, workout. A lot - and do some yoga because you're going to need some muscle and patience to get these on. (Some sarcasm here if you couldn't tell) But, once they're on - oh my.
Now that that's out of the way, let's back up a little. I'm running a 2015 Kona Supreme Operator downhill bike, 26" wheels, Mavic EX 729 out back with more dents than I care to admit and a new Stans Flow up front. I ride hard and not smooth - I am known for my ability to destroy tires and tubes usually going through about 10 downhill tubes a season. Yep - that's close to $200 in tubes when I started having to run tubes (too many dents to get a wire bead to set up). I'm competitive in men's Cat 2 30+; not good enough for a guaranteed podium, but I'm usually in the running.
Setting CushCores up is not rocket science - nor is it nearly as difficult as the internet likes to say. Follow CushCores videos and instructions and do as they say and it won't be that hard. It does take some time and some patience, so come to the table ready and calm. The techniques CushCore uses in their videos are good all around techniques to have in your wheelhouse anyway. I followed their instructions to the T, so I don't have any additional suggestions. I was worried about my rear wheel setup since it's dented up to a degree that I haven't been able to get a tire set up tubeless on it for a couple years now. (That's not a tubeless ready rim, and 26" DH casings are not tubeless ready either - so it's not easy when the wheel is new) But with the CushCore installed, this wheel was no problem to set up tubeless. When all was said and done, it took me less overall time to install the CushCore and set up the rear wheel tubeless than it took me to initially set up the wheel tubeless when I bought the wheel - so while it takes some time, it's not a crazy amount of time.
Now onto the important things - riding. I got these installed the day before spending a day at Snowshoe Mountain in WV (think US Nationals) and the following weekend I spent at Snowshoe as well. This is extremely rough terrain, and as much as I love riding Snowshoe, I tend to have wheel system problems there. I did manage to seriously bend my derailleur hanger, but that's a story for another time. The conditions were sunny day one, downpour day two, and leftover puddles day three. These conditions make it even harder to hold the line you want as traction is minimal. Right out of the gate, I liked what I was feeling - no rim shots, and felt good. But I was running my normal tubeless pressures of 29psi rear 27psi front.
After day one, I was happy to have had no issues at all, but it wasn't until day two that CushCore showed it's true magic. My discovery on day two was to significantly reduce your tire pressures. I landed on 17psi front and 19psi rear, which was unbelievable for a few reasons. First off, I destroy things when I'm running much higher pressures. Secondly, because my rear wheel system isn't meant to be tubeless, without the CushCores anything less than 25psi and the bead would come off the rim lip and lose all its air. Lastly, I don't like the feel of a soft undamped tire system, so usually, these kinds of pressures (in a 2.7" Maxxis Minion DHF) would be too low for the feel I like. But here's the magic - CushCore delivers on ALL their promises. More sidewall support - check. Low pressures - check. Insane amounts of traction at those low pressures - check. Flat tire prevention - check. Tire system damping - check! I was amazed at the ride quality. Day two was a constraint downpour all day, but I had a level of traction that blew my mind. My tires were able to track the rocks and roots incredibly, and I wasn't worried about square edge hits. You can somewhat feel when the Cush Core is impacting an object, which is how I settled on the pressures I did. I was bottoming the system out, but I wasn't getting any of the typical rim shot sounds or feeling. Could I go lower? Maybe - only time will tell.
After wrapping up day three, I inspected both wheels. This is post two days at 17psi and 19psi - and neither wheel had any indications of denting or dings. I was very impressed with the results - the added traction, the wheel protection, flat tire protection, and all the other promises. This is the most game-changing bike related purchase I've made in a while, and I highly recommend it. I will be putting these in my new trail bike as well workout a doubt.
Check out our full review on the CushCore Tire Inserts: