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CushCore XC vs PRO Comparison

CushCore PRO vs XC Comparison

CushCore products provide both rim protection as well as tire performance enhancement. With the new lighter CushCore XC release we wanted to drop a quick CushCore Pro vs XC Comparison review for you.

The original CushCore, or CushCore PRO changed rim protection. Designed to not only keep your rims off rocks they also work as both a volume spacer for your tire PSI as well as changing the leverage point on the sidewall of your tire. Didn’t realize it did all that? We’ll touch more on that later.

The knocks on the CushCore offering was it takes a different technique to change tires and it’s rotating weight.

The definite upsides from the competition? It doesn’t absorb tubeless sealant and provides much more than simple snake bite protection.

Well with the launch of the CushCore XC riders have an option that provides great rim and tire protection while weighing in notably lighter than the PRO option.

Let’s look at some of the differences.

CushCore XC vs PRO Comparison 2 on ridefast carbon rims

Rim Protection

Both offer good rim protection. With more material the PRO will provide additional impact protection.

That said many EWS racers run the XC option for the weight benefits. If you’re not the rider smashing rims every run balancing the weight versus protection equation could lean you towards the XC offering.

Sidewall Performance

The CushCore XC isn’t as tall or wide as the PRO. That means the PRO offering contacts higher on the sidewall than the XC option.

The higher contact point shortens the leverage on the tire’s sidewall for less squirm. Think of holding a thin plastic ruler and wiggling your hand. If you hold it at the very end the motion is quite exaggerated. If you take your other hand and hold the ruler halfway up the motion is notably less. Same concept.

Now with the variety of tires sidewalls available this may or may not be of great importance to you.

Volume Spacing

Like your suspension your tire compresses and changes PSI while you ride. The CushCore Pro takes up more volume in the tire which provides greater ramp in the tire as its’ compressed. Pair this with the sidewall leverage change and the PRO allows riders to run very low air pressures for maximum grip.

The CushCore XC doesn’t take up as much space as the PRO so it’s affects on ramp rate will be less. But if you’re a rider generally content with your tire setup and performance this might not be critical.


Less is more, er, well, less weighs less. This is really a balancing act and there are a lot of credible opinions and options on this.

CushCore PRO weight with packaging 298g

29″ CushCore Pro weighs in at 271g without packaging

CushCore XC weight with packaging 180g. on scale

29″ CushCore XC weights in at 153g without packaging

CushCore Packaging Weight 27g on scale

Rotating mass is generally avoided as much as possible as it consumes energy to accelerate. That’s true.

Now the extra mass in the CushCore PRO may allow you to rider less reinforced sidewalls which are lighter. So depending on what you do with your setup weight might be a wash. At that point your shopping benefits of sidewall performance and tire ramp rate.

Or, maybe you’re comfortable with the tires you like but you want to keep your fresh carbon hoops off the rock garden on your favorite loop. Well, in that case lighter is probably better for you.

Tire Changes

Let’s start with this: learning new tricks isn’t always fun. The first couple times I tried to change a CushCore tire I got frustrated, found something else to do and assigned it to other staff. How’s that for honesty? One day when I had a bit more time and patience Tracy showed me the remove the valve core, use a trash can and motorcycle tire lever trick. Since then CushCore tire changes haven’t been as frustrating.

But less is more here. Less foam makes tire changes more easy. I think that’s actually terrible English so forgive me, but you get the point. The CushCore XC is easier to manipulate on and off your wheel. Again, if you’re looking for rim protection and not a full tilt smash everything, tune my tire for the most minute performance the XC shines here.

CushCore PRO vs XC

So which is it for which rider?

Riding gnarly terrain and hard on rims? PRO.

Want to protect your rims and don’t really need to manipulate tire performance? XC.

Why not one of each, or just one? This is the option that’s really taken off with the release of the XC.

Many riders are harder on rear rims than front (myself very much included in this). If your front wheel is round and true season after season but your rear wheel looks like a stop sign after a handful of big days you’re not alone. And you should consider running different rim protection options front and rear.

I’m going to examine my personal riding as an example.

Typically my front wheel dances exactly where I want and expect it do. And, well, most the time my rear wheel does. However when I misjudge something I tend to smack the rear wheel pretty hard. These days I run aluminum rims so I can bash on them over and over without issue. I would absolutely consider adding a CushCore XC in the rear for burly terrain that I’m unfamiliar with. Trails like Noble Canyon that I haven’t ridden a lot would be an example where having additional rear rim protection would 100% make my day more confident and fun.

If I went back to carbon hoops I’d run CushCore XC’s front and rear if for no other reason than keeping the rims off the occasional rock I decide to smash. I could make a case that I would run the PRO in the rear in bigger terrain again to make my day more fun.

I probably wouldn’t personally run PRO CushCore’s front and rear as the weight would probably get in my head. (in fact I still run EXO sidewall tires for the same reason but at high PSI to minimize squirm) That said I’m also in my 40’s, have grey hair and am not a fan of crashing so I’m not pushing as hard as many riders who I would suggest the CushCore PRO to…

With the launch of the CushCore XC option what had been somewhat of a polarizing decision has really found its way in the grey area for a wide range of trail, enduro, park as well as downhill riders.

More questions? Check out some of the CushCore options below or contact our staff to get dialed in on the right wheel, tire and rim protection options for your riding!

CushCore Product Options

CushCore PRO Kit
29″ CushCore Pro Pair
27.5″ CushCore Pro Pair

CushCore XC Kit
29″ CushCore XC Pair
27.5″ CushCore XC Pair

Mix & Match – 29 or 27.5, XC or PRO

Single PRO
29″ CushCore PRO Single
27.5″ CushCore PRO Single

Single XC
29″ CushCore XC Single
27.5″ CushCore XC Single



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