Podcast: Adam Krefting from CushCore Talks Tires as Suspension

Mar 11, 2019
by Downtime Podcast  
Picture is property of CushCore

Words: Chris Hall


Are tyre inflation systems the next step in improving the overall suspension performance of our bikes? In this episode, we get into the detail of one of the most promising and also misunderstood technologies to enter the mountain bike world for some time. I’m joined by Adam Krefting, the founder and inventor of CushCore for a chat. We talk about how a regular tubeless tyre system works, and interacts with our suspension. Find out how Adam worked to create a product that can improve on that, and deliver not only improved puncture resistance and rim protection, but also significant benefits in how the bike rides and performs. We get into the science behind this, and some of the testing that CushCore have done to show what is possible. If you’ve been tempted to try some tyre inserts, or are looking for ways to improve your bike without spending a fortune, then this episode is well worth a listen!

You can also listen by searching for ‘Downtime Podcast’ on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Podcasts, by asking Alexa, or over on our website http://www.downtimepodcast.com/cushcore/ and you can follow us on Instagram @downtimepodcast


NB: Our own Tech Editor Daniel Sapp has been digging into the numbers and the tech and will report back on it soon.


84 Comments

  • + 21
 Thanks for sharing this Pinkbike. I hope people enjoy listening!
  • + 5
 Another excellent podcast, keep up the great work.
  • + 1
 @Kickmehard: thanks, really glad you're enjoying it!
  • + 9
 CushCore is great. However, they tutorial vids and materials are not friendly enough. You can install CushCore quite easily, using one plastic tire lever. You could even do it on the trail. But even EWS racers have problems with it and there is a comon belief that CushCore is very hard to install. Otherwise, a great product, I cannot imagine not running one anymore.
  • + 4
 @lkubica, they are definitely working on a modified version of a tyre lever that will make life easier/more comfortable. I admit that I struggled initially, but once I realised that you have to push the bead directly down at 90 degrees to the rim then it all started to work. You're right, they really aren't hard to fit once you know the way.
  • + 3
 I actually moved away from tire levers all together for install and find it totally fine. It's still not easy, but if you leave one side of the tire on, pull the cushcore up onto the rim inside the tire, and then move in the other side of the tire (pushing the bead all the way to the base of the rim) it's not too bad. At least with Maxxis 2.5 / Stan's, I'm sure some combinations are much harder.
  • + 3
 Install is not bad, removal can be a nightmare. 35mm inner width rim, with 2.35 MM Super Gravity. Used the recommended plus size CC. First two removals took me and one shop dude and about 15 minutes each time. Third time we had to cut the tire off. Not exactly a trail friendly solution. Was indeed a great race/run flat solution.

Maybe the non plus sized would have been better but that's the size they suggest for that rim. There was simply no channel room for the bead to drop into...if you could even unglue the bead seat after a few weeks of use and sealant.
  • + 1
 Good luck on trail repairs with CushCore.... I had them for around 7 months. Great when riding but it if anything happens out on the trail and plugs can't fix it, you will be out of luck. I've decided to go to tubeless with a DH casing tire (same weight and can run low air pressure)
  • + 2
 @jaydawg69: I can do removal with one tire lever, but I bet it depends a lot on tire casings and rims, so I can totally see where you're coming from. I'm using Maxxis EXO and Stan's. I also haven't had to do it trailside yet so that could totally change my tune!
  • + 0
 @naisemaj: it'll take 10x longer for any kind of repair. I did try EXO casing tires but CC isn't going to help with tire rips. For me the hassle isn't worth it. I think DH casing with a DH Huck Norris would be the winning combo.
  • + 2
 Installing my cushcore has been the biggest nightmare in my MTB maintenance career. I've had it apart 4 times now and it still wont seal with a new DH tire.
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69: Can't you ride out on the flat tire and fix it elsewhere? Isn't that supposed to be one of the benefits of running inserts?
  • + 0
 @dlxah: riding down trail with a flat sucks.... with tubeless, you can put a tube in a couple of minutes. Cushcores are great when your riding and when nothing goes wrong.
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69: I've done a trailside repair with cushcore no problem. Took maybe 5 or 10 minutes longer than normal.
  • + 2
 @tcmtnbikr: This year I removed tire twice and never spent more than 10 minutes. The technique is the same as with putting it on, there is no difference. The only hard part is to push first few cm off the rant.
  • + 8
 A great podcast that hopefully lets people understand that CushCore is not just for rim protection but offers a whole load of other benefits. We just need tyre manufacturers to catch up now and offer lighter weight casing that are cut proof.
  • + 2
 Thanks @phutphutend, hopefully it helps explain how they work and the potential they have for improving the way your bike rides.
  • + 3
 Dyneema sidewalls!
  • + 1
 @dadunc205x: not enough folks know enough about the wonders of Dyneema
  • + 11
 Pump up your damn tires and GET OFF MY LAWN.
  • + 1
 top comment
  • + 4
 I used Cushcore front and rear for a number of months, but have since taken it out. I spent a few weeks in BC and was able to drop pressures without rim/tire damage and it did seem to offer some benefits on slick roots and scummy rocks.
However, my home trails (Grand Junction, Moab, Sedona mainly) I found I couldn't decrease my pressures without rim or tire damage and the result was a very bouncy, skittish ride. Not to mention how much it sucks to pull a Cushcore trailside and ride out with a slimy insert wrapped around your body. Too many square edged, sharp rocks. I have found Huck Norris to work better locally while using my standard pressures.
  • + 2
 @jselwyn, definitely worth getting some sort of tyre plug system like a Dynaplug, then if you puncture out on the trail you've got a decent chance of being able to save it without having to remove the tyre and the Cushcore.
  • + 3
 @jselwyn, this has also been my experience, I ride mainly in Phoenix. It hardly reduced snakebites, and actually increased sidewall cuts. I could not run reduced pressures or lighter tires without more damage. I liked the ride qualities with cushcore but it wasn’t worth the extra weight with no increase in durability.
  • + 0
 I put a Cushcore on a brand new rear rim in the Fall. I definitely ran the tire pressure lower than normal thinking the Cushcore would protect my rim. I was wrong. Within a couple of months I had one large dent and two smaller ones. I'm done with Cushcore.
  • + 1
 If you want rim protection, Vittoria Airliners are probably the best. Cushcore offers other benefits however so pick your priorities and go with what is best....
  • + 1
 I'm running Cushcore front and rear (Schwalbe Magic Mary/Hans Dampf Snakeskin 27.5x2.35 on 30mm inner carbon rims) and it's awesome. Less psi, more traction, smoother ride, no burps, no squirm, rims protected too. Haven't had a single flat.
  • + 1
 @RollinFoSho: no burps? Frown
  • + 4
 This was a fantastic product. It was great to hear from the inventor directly about his product. His explanation of the benefits and numbers to back up his claims were very convincing. Cushcore is now a product I am considering.
  • + 1
 thanks @mtmc99 I'm stoked that you enjoyed listening!
  • + 5
 I wonder if CushCore is the magic bullet to make the 2.8 plus tires all that the industry claimed they would be? Kinda sounds like it...
  • + 3
 Didn't listen to the podcast, but have been using ProCore and now CushCore for 4 years. On my "normal" bike I'm not sure I'm awesome enough to notice the difference in performance of the front tire, but I would NOT ride without it in the rear. I still have it up front, but will pull it out the next time I change the front tire to save a bit of weight.

On my DH tandem, I run cushcore in the front and a custom combo of ProCore and Cushcore in the rear. (Procore for the 100% confident beadlocking capability and "tunable" bumper and Cushcore for the sidewall support. I cut out the inner foam from the Cushcore for to fit the procore inside. On 2.8 tires, fwiw).
  • + 3
 The future is not in tire liners or other systems to fix bad rim engineering. The future is proper engineering of rims that don't cause pinch flats fit to their shape and properties.
  • + 8
 Listen to the podcast, rim protection is just considered a fringe benefit by the Cushcore guy. There's all sorts of interesting stuff mentioned, e.g., improving overall suspension performance, even though I'm in no way in the market for these.
  • + 10
 Listen to the podcast. Cushcore isn’t about rim protection.
  • + 1
 Read his comment, he's not talking about rim protection
  • + 1
 @fracasnoxteam: sorry, you're right, but the point still stands 100%. The priority is very much improving performance, not stopping flats, which is described as a by-product.
  • + 1
 @fracasnoxteam: same difference though isn't it. Cushcores primary purpose is performance, not rim or tyre protection.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: I did listen to the podcast. My point is that flatting is our biggest problem when it comes to tires. This is caused mainly by the shape/stiffness of rims these days. Adding further to suspension helps that out as he is saying, but that's addressing the symptoms rather than the problem. A restructure of tire/rim interface will be required to fully take advantage of improvements he is speaking of while addressing flats.
  • + 1
 It’s not rim tech it’s tyre tech and how tyres with psi work together or at times against each other.
  • + 1
 @dualsuspensiondave: ok, but what these do in terms of suspension enhancement is nothing to with that, and protection from flats is not Cushcore's primary concern
  • + 1
 I get the impression that with tire casings getting better, people are actually moving away from tire inserts. Ease of use, as well as weight, are probably the major factors here. And tire makers are aiming to provide many of the benefits that Cushcore claims to have with better tire designs.
  • + 4
 Have you tired CushCore? It provides benefits that tyre casing just cant...

My understanding is that pretty much everyone on the EWS is now running some kind of tyre insert. They can't be that wrong can they?
  • + 9
 If you've ever used a tire insert the correct way (with reduced pressure) you'll know they are more than just rim protection. As of right now there's no tire casing that comes close to what my Cushcore and Procore can offer me on a long day of park riding.
I totally get that not everyone hammers their tires on their trailbike, and if you can get away with a light tire and no insert,more power to you, but if you're riding hard and don't use an insert, you're missing out, period. Since i've started riding 16 years ago i've struggled with severe hand pain due to chronik disfunctions in my hand and the reduced pressure the inserts allow gives me a lot more comfort (and traction) that just wasn't possible before on a simple dh-casing as i would crush any rim with those sooner than later.
Now i'm on CC and PC for a good 3 years and never had a problem.
As for the future advancements in tire tech.
I don't see that as a pro really. Maxxis' Breaker+ for example seems like a stupid idea for the end consumer if it's really a damping foam of sorts that's integrated into the tire. It just means that tires will get more expensive and we'll have to throw the whole thing in the trash once the tread is done. Inserts seem like the far more cost efficient and ecologically conscious choice here,as they can be reused. That's just me though. I can see the benefit of ease of use of course.
I can just urge anyone to try an insert and form their own opinion. For me personally, it was most likely the most impactful change in mtb tech in the recent 15 years (and yes,i kow dropper posts exist Wink )
  • + 1
 @Loki87: great to hear that you're getting on well with inserts. I was really surprised how much difference they made when I fitted them. I was expecting some benefits, but wasn't sure if I would feel them... how wrong I was!
  • + 2
 @Loki87: That's interesting feedback, I have a lot of hand related issues and it has me curious if this is something that could help. How much do you weigh and what pressure do you run?

I think the thing that has me hesitant is that I don't really ride park, but our normal, everyday rides consist of fairly long descents that are really chunky, some of which are the same distance and grades down as a run at the park. The problem is that I have to pedal to the top and not feel completely gassed. Do you run these on your trail bike where you have to pedal to the top? The weight is less concerning to me than the lower pressures, but I'm wondering if the insert helps to compensate for the lower pressure somehow.
  • + 2
 @Loki87: I'm not just talking about rim protection either. Sidewall construction and rubber compounds are increasingly aimed at providing exactly the kind of damping that is described. Modern gravity tires are far removed from the "undamped rubber ball" they are made out to be in the interview.
The other frontier are better combinations of tire and rim shape to improve cornering performance. With Maxxis WT tires being a first step in that direction.

It depends on the application, however. In some usecases, e.g. bikepark riding and EWS racing, where downhill traction and flat resistance is everything and pedaling weight means nothing, it makes sense to combine heavy tires with heavy inserts. You might get even more performance out of a full on Mousse, like they use in MX.
For trailriding or casual "Enduro", it seems that people use either inserts or super-gravity/DD/Apex tire. With ease of use being a major pro in favor of the tire-only option.
  • + 1
 @shinook: the measurements that CushCore took showed that they had a lower rolling resistance with CushCore in the tyre (at the same pressure), so I think you can get away with dropping the pressure a little and not really feel the additional rolling resistance. My experience is that I can feel the difference in the weight of the bike when I pick it up in a static situation, but I don't really notice it when I'm riding. I'm not a park guy, I have them on a 130mm travel 29er trail bike that I ride up and down hills, and I really like what they do to the bike.
  • + 3
 @shinook:
I´m about 78kg and usually run 1bar in Schwalbe MM SG tires.
Now those things are game changers for two reasons imho.
1. you can hit stuff really (and i mean REALLY) hard without fearing for your wheels. This is probably more important to the park/race crowd than nearly all trail riders, but if you´re the kind of guy who dings rims even on a trail ride, maybe take a closer look at some inserts.
2. Pressure. And this is a big one for me and anyone with hand pain.
As for rolling resistance, i wouldn´t say it´s a drastic difference really, at least with my Marys. For comparison on my Enduro i have tubeless Continental Baron Projekts and they seem to roll slower than the SG Marys with inserts really. So i suspect tire tread still makes more of a difference. If i was to speculate i´d suspect that a well rolling tread with low pressure will still beat a mediocre rolling tread with higher pressure. That´s just a guess though. That´s also on tarmac for comparison´s sake. Offroad i suspect the difference to shift even more towards lower pressure, especially on tech climbs where the improved traction will let you ride much more relaxed.

Another observation of mine.
I regularly beat most people, even those usually faster than me, down the hill in the wet if they´re not running inserts. Since dropping pressure i honestly do not care anymore whether it´s dry or wet, grip stays exactly the same anyways. So it seems they all feel the need to slow it down in the wet while i keep enjoying myself like a little kid, trusting my tires to simply hook up as i expect them to.
Now that effect has always been there for me to some extent, being faster in wet conditions, but with the lowered pressures i feel a lot more relaxed and am sure it reflects in my riding too.

I can only tell anyone to just try some sort of insert for themselves. They are a lot of money for what looks like a pool noodle, but in the grand scheme of things they are a dirt cheap upgrade when you consider the effect they have on your riding.
  • + 4
 What casing getting better ? Nothing new on the face of the earth, you don't want to pinch flat too much and run low pressures, go with DH 2ply casing with insert that solution is 15years old at least. EXO, Snakeskin and alike are a good 6/7 years old and help for tire slash on weight wennies tires. DD and SG are basically single ply tires with butyl insert and cut resistant fabric, no new tech there and is now 3/4 years old. Inserts are all the rage for the past 3/4 years now and since nothing new came up in terms of casing. Same for rubber actually, graphene is still very rare and the only innovation in the past 10 years. Considering the car industry is still using the same things and has much higher RD budgets I doubt tire technology for MTB is gonna go anywhere new anytime soon.
  • + 1
 @Balgaroth:
Spot on.
The biggest innovation in the tire industry has been everybody finally copying the Minion tread pattern in recent years.
Apart from that, nothing new in the past 30 years.
  • + 1
 @Loki87: I have first hand experience that inserts don't protect against rim dents. I put three dents in my rim with a Cushcore.
  • + 1
 @Loki87: Thanks for the info, what pressures did you run prior to CC?
  • + 1
 @shinook:
Around 1,8 BAR, depending on the track.
Measured all with the same pump, so the drop in pressure is not due to variances between different gauges.
  • + 1
 @kwl1:
Well, people also die in car accidents despite seatbelts. That doesn´t prove the system doesn´t work though.
Obviously there are limits to any system, especially regarding rider weight, terrain, speed and line choice.
At 79kg and average to fast speed on rather rocky terrain i personally have not yet experienced any dents.
Two weeks ago i tried jumping up a staircase on the new dh-bike, which didn´t go well. I ended up smashing the rear wheel into the top steps at full speed which resulted in a loud impact noise and i was worried the rim would be toast. It was however perfectly fine. That might also just be down to how sturdy the rim is, but imho the Cushcore did soften the impact significantly. It´s being able to get away with that kind of dumb shit that makes me love my CC/PC inserts.
I guess results may vary for each individual, but for me personally it has been an awesome upgrade.
  • + 1
 @Balgaroth: By that logic inserts are nothing new either, Mousse has been around for ages and some people have been putting pool noodles into their tires for at least 7 years.


@Loki87: Nothing new for the last 30 years? If you believe that you will have no problem running Panaracer Dart tires for your wet-weather rides, will you? You can use them with Cushcore, obviously, so they will ride just as well as the SG Marys. And noone except maxxis cares one bit about Minion thread design. Tire treads are actually converging towards moto patterns, with maxxis being the outlier (see: Schwalbe, Conti, Michelin, Vittoria, Specialized, Bontrager...) .
  • + 1
 Broke one of my cushcore aluminum valves with a hand pump-there goes my one riding day a week. Went to get a new valve at LBS and wasn't covered by warranty. Had to buy them in a set for $60 so I said forget it. $60 valves should have a lifetime warranty. Why spend $60 on something that is designed to break?? Aluminum is too soft and with threads on the inside and out it creates a shear point for the valve to break. I bought a cheap set of stainless valves and they work but its hard to get the air out if you over pump. The concept behind the cushcore does work and I do like the way the bike rides with them, I'm not a fan of the over priced valves that break. For what they cost its not worth it. I've had stainless valves last years with no issues. Also Cushcores are really fun to instal. The neighbours thought there was a fight!!
  • + 3
 @Zephyrwood You can take a Dremel and cut a slot across the base of any normal valve ~3mm thick across the diameter and it will work like a charm.
  • + 2
 @Zephyrwood just put a post up on Instagram under @nwa_mtb giving a brief overview of what I did.
  • + 1
 @cofo11: Thanks for the info. I'll check it out and give it a go. I do like the ride that these inserts give.
  • + 1
 Really interesting podcast, ive been sceptical about these inserts high cost. Listening to the explanation of why they’re shaped that way and made of what they are gave me an appreciation of the thinking behind them. I’ll admit I’d been dismissive thinking just an expensive rim protector but now can see there is way more going on.

Top podcast as always
  • + 1
 Thanks @Lummox, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Yeah there are loads of different tyre inserts out there, and they aren't all doing the same thing.
  • + 1
 Just pinch flatted EXO+ on a gnarly rock garden. Plugged it, installed some Mynesweepers, went back and hit the same rock garden 7 times with 2psi less than before, no issues. I like inserts so far. We've gotten an ever loving shitload of rain here in VA so being able to run low pressures for wet leaves and being able to hit rock gardens like that at the same time is a must.
  • + 3
 Guys I ride with rave about them. Have been keen but after listening to this I am !00% getting some before race season kicks on.
  • + 1
 Thought it was a great podcast ????. I had installed the backer rod foam and got some of the benefits but they don’t last long. Thinking for £150 it’s gotta be easily justified if it saves a couple of rims and tyres without even considering the performance benefits that everyone that uses Cushcore seems to rave about.
  • + 1
 cheers @muggomagic, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
  • + 2
 The ???? We’re a thumbs up BTW
  • + 1
 @muggomagic: ha ha, I did wonder! Cheers
  • + 2
 Sure product works well, but when will price be realistic as currently way over priced for something that is difficult too fit
Yes I would try if got them at realistic price?
  • + 2
 Price is realistic for a properly engineered product probably sold in small quantities at the moment. Price will reduce as sales and manufacturing scale up. But personally I think its the best product since disc brakes. And for something that improves the ride that much, it's pretty cheap. In your muddy Scottish conditions you can drop pressures super low for loads of grip. I've had my front down to 12psi! In dry conditions where tyre roll becomes more of an issue, you can't have such low pressures and benefit is a bit less.
  • + 1
 That opening tyre pic is not the way forward

Agree on improved ride feel, I’m on first few rides using FTD and nothing but positive so far
But I’ve increased psi was running 15/17 without inserts with FTD 17/19
  • + 1
 This product works as described. I won't ride without it anymore. DH bike, enduro bike, etc...gotta be smart about tire pressure still but i have found you can run 2-4psi lower with confidence of not braking the rim
  • + 2
 really keen to try these....brill interview. i need new tyres too so better get saving
  • + 3
 cheers @klerric, I'm pretty impressed with how they perform!
  • + 1
 Where (when??) them nukeproof nards at???
  • + 1
 Anyone tried Flat Tire Defender inserts?
  • + 1
 He Made me wana buy tires the whole time I was listening.. haha
  • + 1
 first time listening to these, that was brilliant!
  • + 1
 Hey @AndyBradUK welcome on board, I'm glad you found us! I hope you enjoy listening to future episodes, and maybe catching up on some of the back catalogue!
  • + 1
 @downtimepodcast: doing just that, its ace! top work.
  • + 1
 @AndyBradUK: that's great, let me know if there's anyone you want to hear from that we've not already had on...
  • + 1
 You mean Adam Krefting defending CushCore
  • + 1
 cushcore, for protecting peoples carbon wheels
  • + 1
 CushCore actually allows you to take the benefit of lightweight carbon rims, so the net overall weight impact of CushCore is less... The same can be said of using lighterweight casing tyres.

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