ASK MBA: DO I NEED TIRE INSERTS FOR MY CROSS COUNTRY MOUNTAIN BIKE?
Is a little extra cush worth the weight?
To Insert or not to Insert
Q: I have friends who use inserts in their tires to help with impact protection, and all of them are telling me to get them. I’m hesitant because I mostly just ride cross-country and light trail stuff and not fast. They say it’ll give me confidence to go faster, but I don’t know if I want to bother with the extra weight. Is there an advantage beyond impact resistance to tire inserts?
A: There is a benefit to riding inserts in your tires whether they be foam or air actuated. A lot of inserts provide better sidewall support, as well as impact protection so you can feel more confident running lower tire pressures for enhanced traction. We typically will only ride inserts in bikes we know we will be riding trails with sharp rocks with high-puncture probability. For most XC or trail bike riding, we won’t bother running anything because we agree that the benefits don’t compensate for the extra weight. There are lighter inserts out there, like the CushCore XC variant or Tannus Armour, which still provide excellent protection.
There is a definite “better safe than sorry” mentality surrounding the use of tire inserts, but they’re not always necessary. A couple of our test riders prefer not to ride them for the weight but will usually throw one at least in the rear tire when riding at a bike park. Another thing is the struggle of putting them into the tire, which is usually a struggle no matter what brand you go with. There are tricks to doing it more easily, but some of them don’t work with certain inserts. If you’re going to do anything with tire inserts, it should be in the rear, which is the most susceptible to punctures. We hope this helps.
“Ask MBA” peeve of the month:
When you use a thread-on-style pump that unthreads the valve core upon removal, completely emptying the tire you just inflated, especially with a hand pump after fixing a trailside flat.
Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].