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CushCore XC Install & Ride Review

CushCore XC Install and Review with video

CushCore XC Install & Ride Review

CushCore XC Install and Review with video

I started thinking about rim protection a few rides ago. I managed to shove a branch through the center of a tire. Murphy’s law meant it went straight through a spoke hole puncturing the tubeless tape. No quick fix to that one on trail… Before we get into the CushCore XC Install & Ride Review here’s a quick bio and which aspects of my riding suggested rim protection because frankly, I didn’t see myself as a candidate for CushCore.

Riding Bio (R) / Purchasing Bio (P):

R: I’ve been riding long enough that I feel competent in most terrain. I have enough gray hair to know I don’t need to be pushing into the red zone risking crashes. Maximum performance isn’t necessarily my goal, but I don’t want to leave performance on the table either.

P: While traction is game changing for confidence, I’m confident in my particular terrain, and not really out searching for the biggest / burliest lines. I’m not sure I’d pencil in tire protection based on the bio above.

I knew I would be testing this product in a true sense – it might be right for me or it might not.

Balancing tire pressure, tire retention (ie not burping) and sidewall performance have a huge effect on your bike’s personality.


Rear Tire Compression and Deflection
I was shooting self-portraits for the Ride Concept shoe launch when I caught this image. I was going relatively slow and easy (about a bike length roll in) over this rock so the amount of tire deflection caught me off guard and made me think about rim protection more seriously.

R: As a heavier rider with decent cornering I run substantial PSI (around 32) to keep from burping tires. Currently I’ve been riding Maxxis EXO+ sidewalls for the additional support, protection and notably improved damping (another convo for another day).

P: Some of CushCore’s biggest draws are the lower PSI, additional sidewall support and to a lesser extent tire pressure ramp. CushCore PRO and XC both act as a volume spacer for your tire as well as contacting the tire’s sidewall, lowering the leverage and adding support.

Burping tires is a sign that you lack support for the conditions. But at over 30 PSI in most conditions I know I’m leaving traction on the table – but I like keeping both air and sealant in the tire. The options here would be going to a Double Down sidewall or looking at rim protection to get the pressures down a bit.


R: I don’t often flat, but, the last two flats I’ve had have been a pain to deal with on-trail.

P: CushCore will help minimize pinch flats providing material between your rim lip and tire. It will also help protect rim tape from deep punctures like mentioned above.

While it might not eliminate all sidewall cuts there are certainly conditions where a bit more sidewall support will get you rolling past the shark’s tooth trying to cut into your tire.

Another factor I considered was a CushCore would help me get out after a near flat and low PSI condition without too much stress on the wheels.


R: I ride aluminum rims. My front wheel tends to stay in good condition. The rear? Well, I’ve been known to be hard on those.

P: Protecting carbon rims from karate chop hits with at least a CushCore XC is a good idea.

Aluminum rims might cost less than carbon, but if you’re constantly bashing on aluminum the maintenance costs add up and the interval between service will continue to decrease. You’ve got to keep them true and tensioned, rim edges start taking a beating and might not seat tires as well. Etc, etc.

And when finish one off it’s still going to cost you spokes, nipples and labor to get back out on trail.


R: I’m not a great climber (I have no idea what this “pain cave” people talk about is in riding – I’m looking for the Fiesta Plateau hahaha) and everyone I ride with is faster than me uphill – so – compromising climbing performance isn’t big on my list of “to-dos”.

P: Well weight is weight. And rolling weight factors out even more. However, the weight can have benefits (I can’t even imagine riding skinwall tires these days) so it might be worth a chat.

I’ve added rolling weight going to the more substantial EXO+ tires without noting too much grief so I thought a CushCore XC would behave similarly.


R: While fairly adept mechanically I don’t need any additional work or pain in the ass processes in my life.

P: CushCore PRO requires more patience to mount. The CushCore XC is easier to mount as it’s less substantial. I figured if I could get the XC on without too much heartache it would hit my requirements.


You can see the purchasing bio weaves back and forth on whether rim protection was for me. I thought about whether I’d prefer rim protection or going from an EXO+ to a DD Double Down tire as well.

So what put me over? The last couple flats I’ve had have been a pain. The most recent would still have compromised a tire, but with a CushCore to protect the tape I could have used a Stan’s Dart or equivalent.

My previous flat to that was a slice in the sidewall that I believe a CushCore (or the DD) would have prevented.

Finally my rear rim is kind of at a point where if I slowed the wear and tear I’ll get a notably longer service interval out of it.

Not to mention I thought it would be interesting to work with tire pressure and check on gains from a bit more damping from the tire setup.

And, truth be told, I get to write articles about it to help clients and call it work! Sorry boys, gotta go test…

CushCore XC Install:

You can check out the video for the actual installation of my CushCore XC as well as some tips on taping a tubeless rim.

I found following the steps to install a CushCore Pro with the XC were problematic for me. As I worked the first tire bead the CushCore would fall out of the bottom of the wheel. After a couple tries I ventured off into my “I think this will work better” mode…

What I found was mounting one side of the tire bead, inserting the CushCore into the tire and then mounting the second bead worked well.

To stretch the new CushCore over the rim I found getting low gave me the best leverage. This meant I could push with my arms instead of just pulling with my hands. Also, for the last third or so rather than pushing in a thumb width at a time I would stretch the insert about a fist width then drive that into trough.

I managed to mount the insert and tire without levers. Which says a lot as I have bad hands and use levers nearly all the time!

Watching the video over my shoulder Joe pointed out he can do that with the CushCore Pro’s too. Not sure I want to try that – but its possible!

CushCore XC Ride Review

PSI Dial In

There’s a fun little test trail in San Diego called E-Ticket. Relatively short, not super burly and has some high G corners with a bit of rock to bang into if you choose.

Best part? SDMBA tool kit at the top complete with a pump! Put the digital gauge in the pocket and do a handful of drops at different pressures.

I typically run about 32 PSI in my rear tire. I decided to start at 28 and work my way down looking for tell-tale x’s or slashes in the tire sidewall.

At 28 I didn’t see any sidewall loading. After a couple drops I found around 23/24 PSI I had X’s in the sidewalls, typically a sign that you’re about a PSI or so too low.

Tire sidewall X'sJust a little low on the PSI for my taste. The X markings have me increase pressure about 2 PSI.

You’re looking for “/” marks showing some deformation but less than the “X”. The tires felt like they behaving, I didn’t notice squirm or roll, but sidewall marks have always been a good reference for me.

After another drop or two I settled in with a sweet spot around 26/27 psi. About 6 psi, or nearly 20% lower air pressure from my typical. This also let me keep the rear tire at the same PSI as the front. It seemed sacrilege to run less PSI in the rear…

CushCore XC On Trail

Deciding that 26.5 would be the test pressure I put a few test rides in.

Climbing

My biggest fear was getting so soft or heavy that climbing would be notably compromised.

As far as the weight – much like the jump to EXO+ from EXO tires – as long as I wasn’t in full “trudge” mode it wasn’t too bad. If I could keep some momentum on the wheel and a clean cadence through the pedals I was happy with it. If I was riding slow enough to “stall” the wheel or quit paying attention to spinning good circles with the pedals (which I’m notorious for) I could feel the added weight. But in most conditions it wasn’t a notable thing.

In fact climbing some of the chunkier trails in my networks I found the added traction was a nice feature. The mental “this should stick” versus “I’m probably going to spin it out and not make it up” made a difference.

Cornering

It’s certainly not a secret that traction is confidence in the corners. But if the sidewalls start rolling or squirming around you feel like the bike (and thus you, the rider) might fling themselves past the tire’s contact patch.

Without tire inserts I frequently burp tires in the 30 PSI range so heading into fast corners in the 26 PSI had me attentive the first few times. I heard the growl of the tire working into the corners but not the tell tale “hiss” when you slip a bead. No spray on the tire at the end of the rides either.

The bike felt like it was on rails rather than having a bit of skip and slide at the same speed and higher PSI.

What I Noticed Most

This sort of surprised me actually – but what I noticed most with the CushCore XC setup was when you float off a waterbar or whatever into a corner.

Without the insert I felt like my bike had two small wiggles, or spikes when it landed and you tried to instantly change direction. Not sure if it was bounce from the PSI or sidewall wiggle or whatever but it had a distinct extra motion side to side.

With the CushCore the bike just stuck. Instantly. Even if you started leaning the bike before you landed it was well behaved. This got me paying attention to other conditions that would really test initial or small bump compliance.

The setup’s additional small bump compliance is really notable. Similarly braking is improved as the tire is more apt to dig in then skip over.

What I Wonder About

The improved small bump compliance and damping does have another side to it. Pushing the bike hard the rear end is a bit more “numb” than before. I don’t notice it at slower speeds but as I creep into the faster stuff I think I loose a little bit of feel out of the rear end. Now whether that’s good or bad I’m not sure just yet. It’s just different.

I wonder how it would feel in really choppy terrain at speed. Will the bike react as I suspect? Will it kind of monster truck over without my input making as much of a difference? Not sure yet. I guess the other side to that is in a choppy, high speed, high stress situation is when you’re most likely to karate chop a rim or pinch flat a tire. So maybe it all would balance out? Definitely haven’t heard any rim “tings” with the insert.

Is a CushCore XC is for me long term or not? You know I haven’t made my mind up just yet. When I went to the more aggressive EXO+ sidewall instead of the lighter EXO option I wasn’t sure I’d stick with it either. With the sidewalls I decided they were for me when I quit thinking about it every ride. Will the CushCore get there? We’ll see – so far it’s passing the tests.

Wondering if a CushCore PRO or XC is for you? Or questions on sidewall technology? Reach out to our expert team today to discuss your riding bio, terrain and aspirations. Our staff will help you dial in the best setup.

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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Dismount Tire, Repair Tape & Remount Tire

Dismount, Tape & Remount MTB Tire

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Dismount Tire, Repair Tape & Remount Tire

Here’s a How-To showing how to remove an MTB tire, repair tubeless tape and remount the tire.

Video & blog below! (PS, excuse some of the wind / street / cat in the audio – we’ve wanted to make sure client’s have access to these especially during our busy season so I’ve been shooting at home – one of my cat’s was quite tired of watching a days worth of video shoots without getting attention in this one!)

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BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Adjusting Chris King Hubs

Tips and Tricks: Adjusting King Hubs

BikeCo Tips & Tricks: Adjusting Chris King Hubs

It’s typical to need to adjust Chris King hubs when the bearing breaks in. This video and write-up will show you how easy adjusting King Hubs is.

(excuse the breeze noise in spots on the video – the Covid home studio can be noisy…)

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MTB Tire Removal – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

MTB Tire Removal BikeCo Tips and Tricks

MTB Tire Removal – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

Enjoy a quick video and write up illustrating MTB Tire Removal in this post of BikeCo Tips & Tricks. Modern sidewalls can make MTB Tire Removal a bit more of a challenge, but with a couple quick tidbits you will make your life notably easier. Continue reading MTB Tire Removal – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

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New Bike Assembly

MTB New Bike Assembly Common Issue

New Bike Assembly

A typical new bike delivered from BikeCo.com doesn’t need much to hit the trails. With some basic tools and a bit of skill you’re on your way. You’ve got a fresh BikeCo Build. New Bike Assembly shouldn’t be intimidating.

(so, the modern work from home means this video is in the yard, with my bike “standing in” for a new rig. Obviously your new bike will be cleaner, not have broken spokes in the back wheel, etc! haha. Also, I wouldn’t suggest grass if avoidable to minimize searching for things you might drop…)

Check out the video then read the post for more details.

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Bike Yoke Revive Seatpost Hydraulic Reset – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

Bike Yoke Revive Seatpost Hydraulic Reset

Bike Yoke Revive Seatpost Hydraulic Reset

The Bike Yoke Revive seatpost has been extremely popular. With one of the longest options on the market at 185mm the Bike Yoke Revive seatpost also stands out with it’s simple hydraulic reset.

 

If your Bike Yoke Revive adjustable seatpost is “squishy” air has mixed with the hydraulic fluid.

 

To quickly eliminate this follow these steps.

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MTB Bolt Checks – Simple but Critical To Your Safety

importance of mountain bike bolt checks

MTB Bolt Checks – Simple but Critical To Your Safety

Consistent MTB Bolt Checks are critical to your bike’s reliability and safety. While components should be checked throughout their service life, it is particularly important to check new fittings. Stem, handlebar, grip and brake assemblies are especially important.

Why You Need to Bolt Check

Light weight, minimal contact and leverage.

With the exception of WTB’s Padloc grips, everything that attaches to your handlebar requires radial clamping force to keep it positioned radially (around the circle of the bar) and laterally (left and right).

If the fastener is appropriately tight the radial assembly produces more “bite” than the loads encountered and nothing moves.

So you torque it and it’s good forever? No. Nope. No.

In fact, you torque it – stress it – re-torque it – and then occasionally check it. Continue reading MTB Bolt Checks – Simple but Critical To Your Safety

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Chain Lube? Yup, Chain Lube. Pre-Ride Best Practices

MTB Pre-Ride Chain Clean & Lube Best Practices

Chain Lube? Yup, Chain Lube. Pre-Ride Best Practices

Really? Chain Lube? Yup. Because adhering to good practices cleaning and lubing allows your drivetrain perform better and last longer. Skipping these steps? Well you might have issues that drive you, or your riding buddies nuts.

Some quick drivetrain basics.

Your cassette, chain and chain ring wear in as a group.  It’s more than the anodized finish that wears off as you ride. Chain ring and cassette teeth change shape. The chain “stretches” (wears).

You might be able to get a couple chains and chain rings for each cassette. But if the drivetrain is well worn your new chain won’t want to hold power on the older teeth. Shifting is often compromised. It is likely to tick and skip under load. Older chain rings will often hang the chain instead of releasing it at the bottom of the radius creating a tick.

Overall the performance is probably better from the paired cassette, chain, and chain ring rather than mixing and matching new with worn.

Keeping the drivetrain properly lubed will dramatically slow wear and improve performance.

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Pre-Ride Chain Cleaning & Lube – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

chain lube video blog image

Pre-Ride Chain Cleaning & Lube – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

Chain Lube? Yup, it’s that important. Want to read more? Check out another blog post about why it’s important as well as my personal program…

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Eliminate Cable Slap – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

BikeCo Tips and Tricks Eliminate Cable Slap blog

Eliminate Cable Slap – BikeCo Tips & Tricks

Some internal cable routed frames have tubes between cable ports while others are open. One isn’t necessarily right and the other wrong and each can have unique considerations. Open frames may suffer from cable slap which this video and blog will address.

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