Words: Ryan Walsch                                                                                Photos: Nick Waygood

When BikeBox Australia delivered the Hans Dampf tyres I tested earlier, it was recommended I test them at the same time as a set of Cushcore Pro rim protection. This was not a big ask, as I have been running Cushcores on and off over the last year with a range of tyre combinations from single wall trail tyres, reinforced trail tyres and dual ply downhill tyres. The Cushcore system manages to offer impact protection and increase tyre stability like no other insert I’ve used.  They do add 260g per end (although there is a 140g XC model now too) but mean you can play around with tyre options beyond the heavy casings of downhill treads.

 

Setup

Setting up Cushcores as a system can be a bit tricky and following the detailed instructions supplied with the kit should be tried first, before trying your own “faster” way. Without listing out the steps and Cushcore’s instructions word for word, here are some of my tips for Cushcore ease of fitment after fitting near on hundreds of them.

1. Pre stretch the tyres/inserts:
Fitting new tyres and Cushcores together is the hardest combination, if you have an old rim or wheel for mounting tyres up dry, inflating the tyres without the Cushcore inside will make them easier to work with. The same method can be used with the insert itself, mounting it onto another rim for a night will help it relax into its natural round shape and stretch it out a bit making the battle less arduous.

 
2. Get your workspace ready:
You will need a round plastic bin or tyre fitting stand, soap spray, levers, clean cloth, hammer, all in arms reach. Any one of these items out of reach can result in the need to start again, don’t ask me how I know.


 
3. Get that tyres bead in the centre of the rim:
Yes, the Cushcore does occupy the centre channel of the rim, but a gentle push donward will move the insert across enough to sit the bead in the centre making fitment much easier. It is important to work the bead a little bit at a time, as forcing a larger section over the rim can either damage the rim OR damage the bead of the tyre causing an imbalance or wobble once inflated.

Setting up Cushcore and Schwalbe tyres from AMBmagazine on Vimeo.

The biggest advantage of using Cushcore is the extra security for your rims, combined with the greater stability you can gain. While they are advertised for their rim protection, it's the stability you will notice more on the trail. As I pointed out in the review of the 29x2.6” Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyres, high volume trail tyres and plus tyres often get into trouble when pushed hard in berms or choppy terrain. The lower pressures that the volume allows can mean the stability you want isn't there when really pushing. Pairing the Cushcore with a larger volume trail tyre can give it the much needed support that’s required for riders who want to push harder through rocks and turns yet retain the supple trail feel of a single ply tyre.

 

As Cushcore sits firmly up against the bead and 1/3rdof the sidewall, even when dropping the pressures down the tyre remains composed and doesn’t feel like it wants to peel off the rim. So you can have the traction you want with lower pressures and higher volume tyres, the rim protection for your fancy wheels, and the security of not feeling like you'll tear your tyres off in berms and rock gardens. That's a pretty magic combination.

Verdict

There is no faulting the performance of Cushcore’s impact protection and tyre casing support. Cushcore’s profile still allows the pneumatic benefits of supple tyre casings to provide grip while hampering tubeless tyres' tendency to roll in corners. They are a must for hard hitting riders running light tyres or nice carbon hoops!

 

All the positive kudos to Cushcore aside, tyre inserts are a solution to a problem that we have created for ourselves through the never ending quest for light stuff. Sure bikes have evolved and we are hitting trails harder than ever but at 1260g an end a tyre can be made that does not require an insert and allows easy trailside repairs and changes.
 
Hits:
–     Rim protection and ride improvement
–     Helps get the most out of your bike
–     Cheap carbon wheel insurance
 
Misses:
–     Specific fitting
–     Hard to do quick tyre swaps
 
RRP: $249
From: bikebox.com.au