Words: Chris Panozzo                                                                                         Images: Matt Rousu
 
By now one of your mates has probably asked if you are running pool noodles in your wheels, a similar call to when your uncle used to walk past your bike and asked where the motor was. Yeah good one Dave, real original…


Yes, tyre inserts are here to stay, and if you haven’t used one yet you are in the minority these days, not the majority. There are multiple options that are commercially available, each taking a similar philosophical approach to both protecting your wheelset and ensuring the tyre stays correctly mounted to the rim. There are also Pro only models out there, companies spending relatively small amounts of their R&D budget to gain an advantage over the competition without offering their discoveries to the wider public. Then there are home-made inserts, simple foam cut outs that do a similar job to the commercial stuff, albeit at a fraction of the cost but with generally a much shorter life span.

 


This is where a gap opened up in what is a relatively new market for mountain bikes and in stepped Mr Wolf. Yes, Mr Wolf might not sound like your normal go to for the latest and greatest market innovation, but he’s onto something here. It’s called the Banger Tubeless System, or more to the point, a Mousse Tube.


A bit of history here first, mousse tubes as they are to be known, aren’t new to bike racing, Michelin has had them in their motocross tyres for their top athletes and weekend warriors alike since 1983, back when Mountain biking was only just starting out! They seem to work, given that they’ve had more than 20 Paris Dakar Wins and 22 World Enduro Motocross Championships with Mousse Tubes in the wheels. So, it seems Mr Wolf isn’t trying to sell us an innovation that claims to cure all our problems, but rather bring to market an adapted version that has been so successful in such a similar sport.

 


What are they? Basically, they are a pool noodle, (thanks Uncle Dave…) varying in density and weight depending on the volume of tyre you are running. The type of foam, or “technopolymer” is designed to take up 95% of the volume of the tyre, with the remaining void left to tune the feel of the tyre via air pressure, the same as a normal tyre. This is what differeniates the Banger system from all the other tyre inserts, while providing protection and insurance to the wheel and tyre, it really does take up 95% of the volume of the tyre, and in doing so does affect the behaviour of the tyre from what we are used too. One of the selling points of the Mousse Tubes is that you can potentially run a lighter casing tyre, with more of the structural strength coming from the Mousse Tube. That might be the case for your casual ride enthusiast, but I’d say that the majority will be better off running their preferred tyre casing as per usual and enjoy extra benefits the Mouse Tube provides.