Back in 2018, we ran this poll
asking if you were running tire inserts. The vast majority weren't, but many said they were keen to give them a try.
Since then it seems the wave of insert hype has come and gone. Every brand was scrabbling to launch its unique take on the pool-noodle-for-your-tires concept a few years ago. Now, I can't remember the last time a new one was announced. And while they're still clearly popular among enduro and downhill racers, a few I've spoken to recently have said that they're no longer running them.
Personally, I think they make a lot of sense, especially for people who ride rocky trails and don't want the rolling drag of a full DH tire
. They allow you to run a supple and fast-rolling tire with added pinch protection, sidewall support and damping. On the other hand, the cost, hassle of installation, and extra weight (assuming you're going to run the same tires) are clear downsides that could put many people off. Then there's the fact that they're not 100% effective at preventing punctures, and if you do get one, you may have to carry the sealant-soaked insert home with you.
So, five years on, I'd like to see how attitudes have changed.
Obviously nothing is going to prevent that one in a million sidewall slash, but I've noticed a dramatic reduction in flats. Remember Tubes? I used to carry two spares every ride lmao
Also, DH tires feel wooden at lower speeds like running too much damping. You might need that damping in certain situations though.
I had one in the rear tire on my hardtail. It made the rear feel quite dead and muted. Never flatted with it so I can't attest to its run flat ability past their claims.
I rode that distance home on an almost flat front tyre recently. It was on the insert but still holding a bit of air. Not much slower than regular riding.
I see so many people running inserts cause they don't want to run heavier tyres. Yet a pissweak tyre with an insert weighs more, so what's the point.....
Now, whenever I ride a bike without them, besides worrying about flats and destroyed rims, the suspension is simply not as good without CC either.
Since first trying them I decided I will always run an insert on the rear wheel. I don't go crazy low on tyre pressure though, just a couple of psi less than I would without inserts. Schwalbe Supertrail casings and a light insert is a great combo for me.
I agree that lighter casing + CC is more versatile. Supple enough at slower speeds but supportive enough at high speeds. But I get DH tires without the fuss of inserts if it's an uplift \ winch-and-plummet bike.
Well that's done it - double flat at the far end of your ride for you next time champ
Insert adds weight all the same so only purpose I see has nothing to do w weight savings…yet people talk about how it allows a lighter casing tire. So exo + insert vs DD/DH without? Seems dumb to me.
If it’s a feel or durability thing then by all means. The inserts do seems to change the overall feel and some like that, I remember neko m saying he liked the dampened feel iirc.
Trail/Enduro Tyre + insert > DH tyre
Unless you are using ultra light xc tyres or something like that then your logic makes no sense. And if you are using ultra light XC tyres with an insert, you must be highly confused about the type of riding you are doing....
The better argument, at least to me, is not that a lighter casing and insert is better than a burlier casing for descending. It's that the former is more well rounded than the latter for bikes that get ridden in a lot of different scenarios.
ALSO, running a DH casing does nothing to protect your $200 rim from getting absolutely mashed in a rock strike, that’ll take forever to rebuild by hand.
@ponyboy24 : for some enduro riding, as a rear tire I don't see any drawbacks compared to a DH tire no. I still need to try it at the front. I generally don't find the limits of tire grip as much when enduro riding compared to DH/Bikepark where I can push a lot more as you get to do the same trail over and over. If I still had a DH bike I would go with a DH tire no doubt and probably would also experiment with inserts. I might build of Park wheelset for my "superenduro" bike with DH tires if I find the current setup too limit in that scenario.
30 in the rear won’t save your wheel or race run the way 30 + insert would though.
I don’t use inserts, but I’m also not racing. I haven’t tried them so can’t comment on the feel, but the concept makes sense for certain use cases.
They don't weigh a pound per tire, you can run a lighter tire using them as well.
They allow your suspension to work as intended by reducing the bounce of the tire when it hits and deflects off obstacles since the air mass is reduced so it actually improvs your damping.
That's what it feels like if you compare a light casing tire with or without Cushcore. Heavier casings definitely add damping to the tire. Running low pressure in an EXO casing with Cushcore in high speed rough terrain is like an undersprung air fork with too many volume spacers.
Since running inserts full time I don't bother to carry a tube with me. I've flatted twice in the last 4 years, one of which was reparable with bacon, one which wasn't.
Personally I run an insert on the back tire only on both my bikes - one DH one trail. You really have to be tip-toeing around to *never* get a flat. We just tested a new jump at the local trail and I came down on a rock which caused a slow-leak pinch flat on the rear tire even with Cushcore. That'd be a rim-dinger without it, I reckon.
Performance improvement in traction and bump absorption is modest but significant.
@brycepiwek Many inserts also help with burp protection, something I appreciate. Also when running aliexpress carbon rims, inserts are pretty much mandatory...
52, 113, 90, 20, 20, 123
It's captured within "difficult of installation," but I'd be fascinated to see the result of a poll about CC pro and casing wobbles, especially with maxxis. I'm CC pro front and rear on my enduro bike, and I love it.
But installation feels like open heart surgery with maxxis tires. I've got bead cream and a very gentle method, but there's always some anxiety until it's fully installed and I spin the wheel and confirm the patient lived and there's no casing wobble.
And I know there's something of an issue with maxxis and casing wobbles in general, but I'm convinced uncareful installation of inserts is a huge contributing factor.
To me, the main reason not to use an insert like CC pro is that you want to swap tires for conditions and it's pretty likely that, sooner or later, multiple removals and installations with CC pro is going to stretch or otherwise damage the casing.
Run them front and rear with rekon exo+/ rekon race exo, assgai/dhr2 exo+, and ultra soft magic mary super gravity.
Absolutely love them.
It's all about compromise and balance, and I just found the inserts weren't quite the right mix for me. I did grow up biking pre-tubeless, so I think my inclination towards firmer tires may stem from the old days too. Either way, my balance turned out to be softer suspension, faster rebound damping and firmer tires. Doesn't seem to slow me down!
There are conditions where lighter casing tire, low psi, insert are advantageous. I'm thinking places with seasonal riding over steep and/or wet rocks and roots, more natural than man made features. Grip while upright or nearly upright combined with rim protection are paramount.
I enjoy that setup until I go into a long, fast berm and I get that disconcerting squirm. So my preferred compromise is a DD or DH tire at a bit higher pressure but it's exactly that - a compromise. Giving up a bit of grip. Ya can't have it all.
On the hardtail the inserts really shine. Lighter casing tires to keep it lively and still able to run low-ish psi without decimating wheels.
the "if you don't use them, why not" poll shows a lot of people just don't (think they) get enough flats to use them... the amount of people that answer with that response is going to be a huge proportion of people who never tried them at all, like me, for example.
Ran inserts consistently from mid 2017 through early 2022. Most of that time was spent on Cushcore, but tested most of the other available options in that timespan. The added weight and hassle is undeniable, and after testing a TON of different combinations of tires/rims/inserts/pressures, I ended up back on dual ply tires at 30+ PSI, which was exactly what I was aiming to avoid by adding pool noodles to the equation. Finally ditched them last spring and haven't looked back.
They work really well for some riders, and they're worth trying for those who are curious. But they won't make up for inappropriate tire selection, and they don't magically make silly low tire pressures work for full size people.
Maxxis specifically had a run of tires a few years back that were consistently terrible.
I also just found that the tire didn't behave how I would expect. Given that half the sidewall is supported, and then the top half isn't and is still squirmy. Someone else said it, but it's like riding a fork with all the tokens in it and getting weird spikes in its rebound.
I think there is a time and place. If you ride a lot of big steep rock faces with big G-outs (like in Squamish and on the Shore) then I think it makes sense.
I now run this on both of my bikes (Evil Insurgent MX and Canyon Super Strive (180/160 with coil) out here in Madeira which is rock central.
Before I used inserts I was flatting almost every other ride (with or without tubeless). Since going to inserts, I have had zero flats, burbs or any hassle, plus the inserts do seem to make a big improvement to the ride over the harsh heavy stuff.
For this specific riding, and as a hard-hitting, talentless fat b$sr$ard I think it's a no brainier to run them. For other places, maybe not.
They have their place.
The insert makes tire feel dead and it's also a huge pain when you do flat. Do I leave insert in and try to reseat & reseal? Pull insert (wear it home?) so I can put a tube in? Much easier to just throw in a tube in the event of a flat.
I've also had a lot more problems with long term sealant stability once I put insert in. Seems like you need 2x the amount of sealant to keep tire healthy.
The sealant stability definitely is a problem though. Two identical rims taped the same way with the same sealant, my front wheel without an insert holds air indefinitely, the back one loses 1-2 psi per day.
My hope is that Octamousse will provide the right combination of light weight, good riding characteristics and ride flat capability so I'll stop carrying a tube for the first time in 30 years and just run DD casings and bring a pump and Stan's dart plugs.
I live in northern Switzerland and between the flow trails vibes and living in a 30 m^2 flat, I have gone all in on the TPU tubes because I basically never puncture and I don't have to faff with sealant.
I use inserts I made and designed myself out of 5 mm high density Eva foam (think sneaker midsole material). They add some protection against rim and tire damage on impact and weigh only 100g each.
Used to always flat spot them even at 30+ psi (155 lb rider), hasn’t happened now in 3 years and can run lower psi.
And I like the feel.
Tried on the trailbike and liked the feel of grip at lower psi but not the weight for climbing, switched to Zipp rims and don’t need them- the feel is pretty similar with how they flex.
CushCores do all the things they claim, but the weight can be felt. I’d love to see rim/tire combos optimized for inserts to trim that weight. For example, if you run an insert, dual casing might still be worth it, but the apex (bead protector) belt could go.
I might go with lighter wheels too-whenever the Cushcore protected ones need replacing. Which probably means on the next bike.
There's also still a lot to be said for oldschool DH tyres, quality tubes and "high" (25psi+) pressures, atleast in the rear
So yeah maybe in the static sagged situation the pressure in the tire is lower unless you'd otherwise be running the higher pressure just to avoid tire roll and pinch flats. But otherwise, yeah the pressures would be equal there. For the same area of tire contact patch (for that same tire), you'd have the same pressure in the tire. Some people run inserts to stabilize the sidewall. ProCore doesn't really do that, but for instance CushCore does from what I understand.
TL;DR: Yeah sorry for my somewhat unstructured comment. It really depends on what you're trying to achieve. One type of insert is good to achieve one thing, the other for something else. Look at what keeps you from lowering your tire pressure even more and then get the one that helps you with that.
That’s what I’m trying to get at. Is the traction really better with the lower pressure or not. I’m not sure it is after testing.
1. Tire bead stability (against burping in hard flat corners)
2. Sidewall stability (against this "squirming" sensation)
3. Radial support (to protect the rim and the tire against pinch flats and flat spots due to sharp direct impacts) You may not want to call this "flex" but at least it progressively reduces tire deformation through this final of the hit so I included it regardless.
If I take the inserts from my previous posts:
ProCore and DeanEasy improve 1 and 3 (both quite strongly) but does next to nothing for 2.
The others aren't as stiff as you still need to be able to install and remove the tire, but they'll often also support the sidewall somewhat. And the balance between the three properties is different for all of them. An insert with a center channel like Tannus or Vittoria will probably provide less for property 1, but Vittoria largely fills the tire so will probably do more for 2 than Nukeproof ARD.
At the end of the day, I think you should identify what is keeping you from lowering your tire pressure even further. For me burping is critical and tire squirm doesn't bother me much, so I'm using ProCore. Those who ride a lot of berms and little flat corners would choose something else. But if you do know what is keeping you from lowering your tire pressure and you install the appropriate insert then yes, you can lower the pressure.
For half the weight I can run EXO+ or DD and carry a tubolio. I do love them for DH/Park riding tho.
Ride with cushcore was the best but in the end the cost and hassle when you dó have a puncture have put me off.
Installation is fine, removal is the disaster. I run relatively narrow 28mm wheels.
Thanks Seb, now I don't have to say anything. There you go.
Now based on my luck...I'll probably get a flat and break a rim next ride...
You have tire insterts installed on your wheels.
You get a flat and your sealant can't plug the hole and you forgot to bring a plug/bacon. You do have a spare innertube tho.
Do you ride flat or take out the tire insert and abandon it or sling it over your shoulder and ride with it back to the car?
I got a cheap carbon rim wheelset from the recent The House liquidation sale (full wheelset for $464), and it's kind of awesome because I can run without inserts and not give a crap if they break.
ie. Always in the rear, sometimes in the front
or. Heavy duty in the rear sometimes, lighter duty always, etc.
For durability, they're not always adequate to protect rims, forget the tire punctures.
Why would you use better damping dh casing?
I actually run a Vittoria Airliner insert in the back wheel of my gravel bike and it is by far the best application given the low volume (42mm width) and rocky terrain where I live.
A: run a thicker sidewall tire
B: learn how to pick a line better
C: Never take their bike to a shop for anything to do with wheels if they have an insert installed cause everyone in the back will hate you forever
Everyone's got differnet views & that's fine, but when someone's are only negative, that's on them - not the product or other riders. I sense projection issues. I only have good things to say about cush (can't speak for others) but for me it/s the damping vs. w/o cush is stunning - in rough / park / rocky terrarin - its like night & day in my view.
A: run EXO+
B: thought I picked the best line
C: Don't take my bike to the shop cause I can fix my own shit when I break it.
I could have told ya, but back then nobody listened