Not all tyre liners are created equal, and the Tannus Armour Tubeless tyre inserts are well-priced, light, easy to fit, and improve your ride.
Tannus may not be a house hold name in Australia, but globally Tannus have been producing airless tyres for many years. In Japan alone, commuter bikes are fitted with hundreds of thousands of Tannus’ airless tyres made from Aither 1.1 closed cell foam.
More recently, Tannus Armour became available downunder (for tubed setups) and while many of us may not use tubes much anymore, the transformation in ride quality and reduction in punctures makes it an extremely popular product. Tannus have now released Tannus Armour Tubeless inserts made from their proprietary Aither foam. It boasts some big benefits such as being quite light at only 150g for 27.5 inch and 165g for 29inch, while also being easier to install than others and faster rolling. Rather than being a strip or wedge style foam insert, Tannus have a rather unique profile that has wings that enables the tyre to still conform to the trail more naturally and provide a more staged cushion or progressive feel, you could say.
This is probably going to be the shortest installation piece on any insert ever written. For those whom have already got their wheels setup tubeless follow these simple steps. Pop one side of your tyre off the rim, line up one of the tubeless valve notches with the valve, pop the Tannus insert into the tyre, tuck the wing under the rims bead, if you didn’t already have sealant in there either pop some in now or inject through the valve at the end, pop tyre back over bead of rim, inflate.
Sounds just like installing a tyre and yes it really is that simple. The only factor that will make this difficult is the type of tyre you’re using, the thicker the casing the more difficult it will be on the rim and that has nothing to do with the insert.
We had two inserts installed in tubeless wheels in 5 minutes, a track pump is going to be all you need for this endeavour however a Bontrager Flash Charger or similar compressor will make the inflation quicker.
One of the major benefits of running inserts is the ability to run slightly lower pressures than you would without. Why would you want to run lower pressure? By dropping the pressure you can increase your tyre's contact patch with the ground which results in more grip and control and also reduces feedback from the terrain, therefore resulting in less rider fatigue. Lower pressures without inserts can result in lateral deformation of the tyre, felt as the tyre squirming or rolling over. You can also have impacts to the rim and ultimately a damaged tyre or flat.
I have used and raced on quite a few inserts over the last few years. Some models really do take a beating and offer the best impact absorption but can be difficult to fit, many are heavy and what I didn’t realise until riding Tannus Armor some inserts are pretty dead to ride.
When you impact a solid foam insert, you first compress the tyre, then the foam and there is a noticeable point where this happens and it can make suspension setup a bit vague due to the different characteristics of the pneumatic tyre and the foam. The Tannus Armuor’s wings have a very different feel out on the trail, the point of which the pneumatic tyre bottoms out onto the insert feels more seamless and progressive if you will. Less of a dull thud at the end and keeping the bike more under control.
Setting the pressure was pretty easy, dropping the pressure slightly from my normal 26psi/28psi down to 22psi/24psi which really does make a huge difference to the contact patch. I normally run higher pressures to fend off rock strikes and rim damage, so a tyre's contact patch can be quite small and reduce the grip and control over a bike. Dropping that pressure down without as much fear of these impacts and keeping the tyre from squirming laterally means that Tannus Armour drastically changes the ride quality.
On the Trail
The very first thing you will notice when riding Tannus Armour and a slightly lower tyre pressure is the noise, or lack thereof. There is less rattling and vibration, the bike has a smoother feeling and while I couldn’t notice the 3% improvement in rolling efficiency, at 165g an insert it really doesn’t feel more difficult to get up too speed when compared to running a heavier and softer compound tyre. Climbing grip and control is improved from the larger contact patch and the flexible and more pliable trail/enduro casing which is able to conform to the terrain more easily than a rigid downhill tyre for rim protection.
When pushing into turns the tyre remains very stable and does not roll too much despite the lower pressures, laterally there is a huge improvement over a tyre with no insert and Tannus’ data supports this showing it can withstand more than twice the side load of a normal tyre and 1kgf more than a CushCore for a total of 115kgf @ 30psi which is a mammoth effort.
Riding Tannus Armour across rough, off camber and rocky sections is where I think it really excels. Tannus Armour’s wings give a more natural feel over solid inserts, the support is there as is the damping but the transition between what the pneumatic tyre cushion and where the Tannus takes over is much more subtle as a result of the wing and the inserts profile.
Is a Tannus Armour Tubeless insert as robust and confidence inspiring as a fully fledged DH tyre? Well no, it isn't but it certainly is more sensitive to terrain, lighter (depending on what you're stuffing it into) and can be reused and popped into tyre after tyre.
Out of all the inserts I have used, this is my favourite so far. It is cheaper, light, performs brilliantly and is easy to install - a very rare combination. I can recommend the Tannus Armour Tubeless for E-bikers, racers and casual riders who want better control over their bike, the benefits with this simple and easy to use insert are vast.
Photos: Nick Waygood
RRP: $99 per wheel
Ease of fitting and setup
Lower weight than others
Natural ride feel
Improves handling under load
- Not many!