Sometimes all you need is just a little added protection. For those that seem to always get flats, CushCore tire inserts might just be the solution you have been looking for. In this review, our customer Jonathan throws a set on his bike to ensure that he never gets a flat again. Read on to see how they have worked for him!
After putting a good number of dents in the rear wheels of my last two bikes (and ruining one tubeless setup), I decided to order CushCore tire inserts and install them on the tires of my new hardtail (Santa Cruz Chameleon) before I did any real damage. I am running Maxxis Rekon 2.8” tires on the front and rear. There are several inserts on the market that offer rim protection; I chose CushCore because the company promised a smoother ride and greater lateral tire stability at low pressures. Both of these traits were very desirable since I was trying to protect the rims of a 27.5+ hardtail.
Since I bought the inserts at about the same time as the bike, I only got one good ride in before I installed the inserts and cannot do a good before and after comparison. Also, although I’ve seen awesome videos of this product’s ability to protect rims at ridiculously low pressures over rough terrain (check the review on Skills with Phil for one), I don’t have the money to let all of the air out of my tires and hit a rock garden crossing my fingers. So, I can’t tell you the limits of the system.
Let’s talk about installation and potential trailside maintenance. When you open the box, you will see multiple warnings that you should watch CushCore’s instructional video/read their instructions before tackling this project. CushCore tells you this because they love you and don’t want you to give up and sell your mountain bike after four hours of trying to seat a tire. So, listen to CushCore because CushCore loves you. Before CushCore, I had never used a tire lever on a tubeless tire. I had never mixed up soapy water to spray along the bead. I hadn’t even heard of putting your rim on the rim of a large trash can for leverage. First I tried to use just my hands. Then I tried the soapy water. The only way I was able to seat the first tire over the insert and onto the rim was to use tire levers, soapy water, and professional anger counselor; to be fair, my desire to install the system without tire levers (brand new rims, remember), and a large trashcan (which I just didn’t have) really contributed to my difficulty. When I took a break and did the other wheel while listening to all of the steps, install wasn’t too bad. I did manage to break a good quality tire lever by the time I finished seating the second tire though.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably most curious about the effectiveness of the product. It is a dense foam and is not soft like you may think when you hear the word foam. I cannot smash the foam into the rim no matter how hard I press on it with my hand. I also can’t smash the tire to the rim when I let all of the air out of the tire and press the tire as hard as I can onto the corner of my workbench. I have landed hard on rocks and roots, failed to get my back wheel high enough to clear a few logs and rocks, and even caught my back wheel on a square concrete curb in the two or three months I’ve been riding with the inserts. Not once have I heard that familiar, hollow metal sound of an object bumping my rim through the back tire. In fact, whenever I do hit what I assume to be the foam through the tire, it feels like it bounces my back tire up a little bit.
CushCore says that the inserts are an in-tire suspensions system that dampens vibration and the jolt of big impacts while increasing the lateral stability of the tire and preventing “tire roll” during aggressive cornering. I can say that I have been able to corner as hard and fast as I can at my preferred tire pressures (usually somewhere between 16 and 19 PSI) and have never unseated my tires or felt them fold and slide out. I can also say that my plus tire hardtail with CushCore inserts rides a lot smoother than my fat (4.5”) hardtail used to at 8 to 10 PSI. It actually feels smoother on rocks than any hardtail I’ve ridden.
When I ordered this product, I assumed it would do all of the things I’ve mentioned and, so far, I have not been disappointed.
CushCore says you could potentially ride a flat tire home; I hope so. I don’t think you could always count on resetting the tire with the insert in place on the side of the trail. I definitely think you can do it trailside; I just think the availability of tools, terrain, darkness, etc. could make it very difficult in certain situations. I’m sure you could pull out the insert and do a more typical repair, but then you’d be having to carry the insert home.
All in all, it seems to be a good product that does what the manufacturer says, and I am happy with my purchase.