Cush Core Tire Inserts
Words & Photos by Taylor Haenny
What if I told you there was a product that could make your bike corner better. It could also make 160mm of travel feel like 175mm and protect your favorite rims from damage. Even more, what if it also offered you a 3% faster rolling speed? To many of you it would sound like I’m blowing smoke, but this is exactly what Cush Core claims their tire inserts will provide you.
While a healthy amount of skepticism isn’t a bad thing, I was curious to find out if the product was just an overpriced pool noodle cut in half like so many commenters have said, or if they are some miracle product that I didn’t even know I’d been waiting for.
Cush Core has taken a lot of time refining the compound that they use for their inserts. Compared to the many other tire inserts I’ve used, I noticed right away that Cush Core’s are much higher quality than their competitors.
Located on the rim side of the insert is a rectangular piece that protrudes and provides a secure fit to most rims. This is also what makes them fairly difficult to install, but more on that later. The inserts feature a wedged shape that provides lateral stiffness and increases stability in corners.
The tire side of the insert is where Cush Core really separates themselves from the competition. Think of your tires air volume like a suspension fork. The air chamber would be your air-spring and the Cush Core insert becomes your damper. This allows the tire to behave differently under different loads. Since the insert reduces the air volume of the tire it offers a lively and precise feel on smaller obstacles and smoother terrain.
Pushing onto medium size impacts the Cush Core starts to absorb some of the impact and reduce the vibrations associated with those hits. Adding some moderate damping to the mix the sidewalls hold their position creating more stability and less tire roll.
Next let’s talk big hits. You know the ones that make you grimace and pray that you didn’t just tear that brand new DHF, or dent/crack that brand-new hoop? For most people this is the main reason they choose to add Cush Core to their rig.
As the tire compresses and starts to push into the insert, the damping effects greatly increase. Due to the surface area, impact energy is dissipated across the insert, which reduces bump force experienced by the rider and keeps the bike in contact with the ground. This also increases braking efficiency because the tire isn’t bouncing off the ground. Returning to the air spring analogy, the insert provides the bottom out protection of bottom out tokens in a fork, while controlling the rebound as not to create a trampoline effect.
This is that part of the write-up where I tell you that the inserts are hard to install and you nod your head and say, “I’ve heard this before.” But, what the others might not tell you is that with the proper technique they are pretty painless to install. Got your attention yet?
For a smooth installation, there are a couple tips that will go a long way. My first attempt at installing a set took me nearly an hour, and on my last tire change it only took me 10 minutes for the pair.
First off, do not use a brand-new tire. Instead take a couple rides on a new set of rubbers then throw in the Cush Core. Second, the installation video provided by the mechanics at Cush Core show you an elaborate trash-can set up to expedite installation which for me, simply isn’t the best way to do it. Not to mention when you add sealant into the equation it can get a bit messy. Instead, after getting the insert seated on the rim pull the tire over and start inserting the bead. By using a large tire lever, you can easily push the bead deep into the well of the rim (which is the most important part) It’s as simple as that, just be patient and make sure you get that bead all the way under the insert and in the center of the rim and it should go on really quick.