Huck Norris appeared out of the blue at Eurobike 2016 to much fanfare and attention, a closed-cell foam insert that is placed into tubeless tire and wheel combinations to help ward off hard impacts. It's intended to act as a cushion to help prevent rims from being dented or dinged, and it should also cushion the tire carcass between the rim and rock as they try to connect upon impact, hopefully avoiding splitting or damaging the sidewall.
When it debuted, there were plenty of "Why didn't I think of that?" and "Is that a piece of a yoga mat?" comments. Curious as to if Huck Norris was up to the task, over the last few months on various bikes, I have been trying to smash into obstacles to try and break him down.
Huck Norris Details
• Fits 27.5" and 29" tires.
• Three sizes to suit rim width
• 84 grams (actual)
for 29" x 55mm size.
• Includes 'Face Kick Fender' packaging
• Patent Pending
• Made in Finland
• MSRP: €79 / $85 USD (approx.)
The Huck Norris comes in a 29" length, with simple cutting guides for 27.5" wheels. If you have 26" wheels, then you can cut another 19cm off and voila, although you will need to be a little more creative to join the two ends together as there is no guide for this wheel size.
Use the velcro strip supplied to join the two ends together, place it inside your tubeless tire and Huck's your uncle.
There are three widths available
depending on which size of tire and rim setup you have. The smallest 50mm Huck will suit 21-28mm rims; the 55mm insert works with 27-35mm rims and the largest 60mm will work with 34-45mm rims and plus sized tires.
The only mechanical skill required to install Huck Norris is Velcro attachment.
Let's Play: Marketing Claims, True Or False?
There were a bunch of claims and hype at the Eurobike launch and in the press release, but does Huck step up to his plate of promise?
Material specially developed for MTB use with actual scientists. Three times the impact energy damping than anything commercially available.
Hmmm: Well, I have no way of proving that actual scientists were involved and how much energy this can truly absorb, so I guess we need to take Huck's word for it. It is harder than the average yoga mat, though.
No more punctures in tubeless MTB setup.
False: I haven't managed to get a single puncture using Huck Norris, but it doesn't remove the possibility of cutting tires on sharp objects. That being said, the risk of splitting the tire in between the rim and rock is massively reduced.
No more nasty dents in your rims.
True: Riding Huck Norris-less, using a SRAM Rail 50 wheelset I suffered a ride ending rim ding using a mid-weight E13 TRS tire inflated to 28psi. After some workshop time, the rim lived again and I installed the Huck. I then chose one of Finale Ligure's most rocky and treacherous trails, and starting at 26/28psi, I hit everything possible. I then dropped the tire pressure by two psi per run, eventually getting as low as 10/12psi. Not only was it incredibly scary and dangerous trying to stay on this high-speed trail at this pressure, it also ended happily with the rim damage free.
I checked the rim after riding and it had survived perfectly intact. Nearly every time I hit a square edge, I winced, awaiting the well-known rock to rim dinging noise, but it never came. Sometimes there was a noise, which could have been the rim connecting with a rock outside of the tire, or the noisy bladed spokes of the Rail wheelset.
Even though Huck Norris is a closed cell foam, it will collect a coating of tubeless sealant, exactly how much depends on the viscosity of the fluid.
No more hassle with tubeless setup.
True and False: It does make mounting the tire a little more difficult; there is less space inside the tire than normal, and it does spread the tire sidewalls out towards the rim bead. This makes it more difficult to create slack in the tire to mount it on to the rim; it's still possible but takes more skill and precision to keep the bead in the middle of the rim.
Once the tire is mounted, though, it does spread the tire closer to the bead and helps with tubeless inflation.
No modification to your rim or glue needed.
True: Join the two ends with Velcro and throw it into the tire.
No need for compressor to install tubeless anymore.
True and False: The Huck does help a little by spreading the tire sidewalls, especially on lighter, more flimsy tires. But a particularly difficult rim/tire combination might still require a pressure boost, either from a compressor or an Air Shot style canister.
No need to over-inflate the tires to avoid punctures. Use the pressure you want!
True: Proven in my test riding, you can run much lower pressures without the risk of rim damage. Just the risk of poor handling from trying to ride such soft tires.
No more downhill tires on trail bikes
True and False: It depends on why you are using DH tires on your trail bike. If you are doing this simply for rim or puncture protection, you could move to a lighter tire. If you are doing this because you like the feel and support of a heavier casing tire, then no, Huck will not help you in this situation.
The Huck weighed 84 grams for a 29" tire. But, once coated in latex, this figure jumped to around 120 grams after I had removed it and let most of the fluid run off. The foam is closed cell, so won't absorb fluid, except where it has been cut into shape or damaged by hitting rocks, opening the cells and allowing fluid to enter. Also, the tubeless fluid has more surface area to cover compared to the inside of your tire; you will need some more fluid.
To some people, adding up to 240 grams to your total wheel weight will be sacrilege. But for people that err towards riding gnarly stuff, this won't be an issue. In comparison, Schwalbe's dual chamber ProCore system that offers some of the same benefits weighs around 440 grams in total.
€79 euros might sound like a lot of money, but if you are a regular rim smasher, then the Huck could save you money in the long run. It will wear out eventually and need replacing, or quickly if you manage to strike the rim in the same place repeatedly. The foam cells will break down upon impact.
The Huck Norris may be of most advantage to trials riders, where a very low tire pressure is a must and chances of pinch punctures are very high. People who ride choppy and greasy technical trails can gain an advantage by using lower pressures for grip. Bike park hooligans who ride smooth hardpack will be using higher tire pressures and have the least to gain from Huck's rim and tire protecting qualities.Pinkbike's Take
|Huck Norris lives up to most of his claims. An efficient way to add tire and rim protection with no added hassle. - Paul Aston|