Fear no rocks.
As a serial tire killer, I can’t imagine riding my mountain bike without CushCore inserts. They protect tires and wheels from impacts, provide extra support for cornering, and let you run low pressures for more comfort and traction. CushCores make me a more confident rider and they’ve saved my tires and wheels from countless botched lines.
CushCore Pro details, weight, and installation
Price (set): $149.00
Weight (single insert): 26” - 245g, 27.5” - 250g, 29” - 260g
Recommended tire width: 2.1” - 2.6”
Recommended inner rim width: 22mm - 35mm
Intended use: Trail, Enduro, Downhill
Installation difficulty: 8/10
Protection level: 9/10
CushCore Pro inserts provide unmatched rim and tire protection. The closed-cell foam dissipates energy, reducing pinch flats and rim damage. Like all CushCore inserts, it doesn’t absorb sealant. I rate the protection 9/10 (5/10 is a standard tubeless trail tire, 10/10 is invincible). It’s not foolproof, but there’s nothing else on the market that comes close.
With the added protection, riders can run lower tire pressures (CushCore recommends reducing pressure 1-5 PSI) which improves traction, damping, and comfort on rough terrain. The insert also presses against the tire sidewall, preventing burps and supporting the sidewall so it doesn’t fold during hard cornering.
The biggest downside is that running CushCore Pro front and rear will add over a pound of rotating weight to your bike which affects climbing and acceleration.
Installation can be difficult for first-time users. It gets easier with practice and as the insert ages and stretches out. I rate the difficulty 8/10, but that only applies if it’s your first time. (5/10 is mounting a stiff DH tire, 10/10 is impossible. With practice it can become a 6/10.)
CushCore XC details, weight, and installation
Price (set): $149.00
Weight (single insert): 27.5” - 140g, 29” - 150g
Recommended tire width: 1.8” - 2.4”
Recommended inner rim width: 22mm - 32mm
Intended use: XC, Trail
Installation difficulty: 5/10
Protection level: 7/10
CushCore XC is a pared-down version of the original CushCore Pro insert. It uses the same closed-cell foam, but the dimensions are smaller, and there are cutouts on the underside to reduce weight. As a result, one CushCore XC insert is over 100 grams lighter than a CushCore Pro.
The trade-off is reduced protection. As the name implies, it’s not intended for serious downhill use. It will still beef up XC and trail tires, which is more than enough for most riders.
CushCore recommends using CushCore XC in tires that are 2.4” or narrower, which leaves out many popular 2.5” - 2.6” trail tires. The insert also does not hug the rim as tightly, or go as high up the tire sidewall as CushCore Pro, so there is slightly less burp protection and cornering support.
However, CushCore XC is much easier to install. The insert has more stretch and the cutouts give you more room to get slack in the tire bead. It’s not much harder than installing a tire without an insert, and I rate the difficulty 5/10.
Choosing CushCore Pro vs. XC
As you’d expect, CushCore XC is best for cross-country and light trail riding while CushCore Pro is better for gnarly enduro and downhill. The former is lighter at the expense of protection, while the latter gives me complete confidence to plow into obstacles, though it can feel too stiff with lighter tires.
No matter what you choose, I firmly believe that all mountain bikes ride better with inserts, and having any insert is better than none! Don’t hesitate to try mixing Pro and XC inserts or simply running one insert in your rear wheel.
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