Why We’ve Included Cushcore Tire Inserts With Marin Mountain Bikes

Cushcore - we love it and we've started to include it out of the box with a few of our mountain bikes. Here's everything you need to know about Cushcore tire inserts and why we love them!

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So…uh, What Is Cushcore MTB?

Mountain bike tech has seen a load of exciting updates in the last few years, covering everything from frame geometry down to the tires we ride.

One of the most exciting pieces of new tech is actually hidden from plain sight, tucked away inside your tires. That is, we think, mountain bike tire inserts.

Cushcore Pro tire inserts marin bikes

What are tire inserts? Great question!

You’ve heard of tubeless wheels, right?

Tubeless means replacing your inner tube with a special puncture-plugging liquid sealant. Tubeless means fewer punctures, improved grip and improved comfort. It’s a huge improvement on running inner tubes.

But if you're riding really gnarly terrain, tubeless wheels can still be vulnerable to damage. Take the wrong line through a rock garden, and you might put a hole in the outside of your tire, dent a rim, or worse. If your bike is an eMTB, the extra weight of the motor and battery increases the risk of this happening.

Luckily clever people have thought about this and invented a product specifically designed to prevent it. Hey presto, the tire insert.

A tire insert is a lightweight but tough, squashy band that sits inside the tire, protecting your wheels against any damage from rocks, and protecting your tire against damage from being thwacked against the wheel rim. They're simple, maintenance-free and very effective.

Simply put, the insert acts as a bumper between your tire and your rim. Without inserts, you only have your tire and the air it contains to absorb impacts. The insert adds another layer of protection - as your tire takes a hit, the insert compresses and is designed to move in a way that acts like it's only little suspension damper.

Founded in 2017, Cushcore’s products have been used by some seriously fast racers and carried them to dozens of downhill and enduro podiums, as well as keeping lots of regular riders rolling.

But is Cushcore worth it?

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Extra Protection

First of all, the protection a Cushcore tire insert provides is second to none. It’ll shrug off hits that could dent or crack an unprotected rim, and even if you manage to damage a tire so badly that it won't seal with a plug, you'll still be able to ride back to the trailhead.

There are many inserts on the market, but Cushcore is a cut above the rest.

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Lower Tire Pressures

Cushcore inserts also support your tires at low pressure, giving more precise handling and cornering. Cornering hard on a tire with lower pressures can lead to it washing out in loose dirt or even rolling off the rim.

With Cushcore, the insert holds the tire in place and helps it keep its shape under load, meaning you’ll hook up and stay upright. Cushcore say that by adding their tech you’ll see up to 35% more sidewall support. Not bad!

How much can you lower your pressure with Cushcore? Cushcore recommends running around 5psi less than you would without their inserts installed. Riders that are used to running higher pressures, 35psi+ will have lots of room to drop down.

We’d recommend that you experiment slowly, dropping pressure a few psi at a time and always check your tire manufacturer’s recommended pressure settings.

Does Cushcore prevent burping? Yep, it does. With stiffer sidewalls and more support in your tire a Cushcore insert should be a big help in reducing those annoying tire burps.

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Cushcore Improves Suspension Performance

That’s not all, though - a Cushcore insert also acts like extra suspension. Yep, you heard that right!

Think of it this way. As your bike moves over a bump in the ground or lands a jump, the suspension compresses, then extends. The second part of this process is controlled by the damper and means that your suspension extends slightly slower, instead of behaving like a pogo stick.

The air in your tire, though, doesn’t have a damper and after compressing it just springs back. Replacing some of this air with an insert adds damping to your tires and makes your bike feel noticeably more composed when things get spicy.

Cushcore claims they can improve suspension performance by up to 16% and reduce vibration by 12%.

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More Than Just a Foam Noodle!

Another neat thing is the sheer level of tech that goes into Cushcore tire inserts.

Where many inserts are simply foam hoops, these are specifically engineered for tubeless mountain bike wheels. They’re made using a special closed-cell foam, shaped to sit securely inside your rims and to provide the perfect ‘feel’ when you hit a bump. The Cush’ geeks spent a heap of time testing different materials to find the perfect one that compresses, twists and rebounds in exactly the right way, to improve suspension and cornering performance. There’s a lot of science going on in those babies!

Finally, running an insert means that you don’t have to choose the most bombproof tire. A lighter model with a thinner sidewall will offset any weight from the insert, and should be easier to pedal to the top of the fun stuff.

We’re super careful to only choose awesome tires for our bikes, but, we’re stoked that Cushcore just adds more options to what you can ride.

Marin Rift Zone E in hills

Get Cushcore on your Marin

At Marin we spec Cushcore inserts on some of our performance eMTBs, including the Alpine Trail E1 and E2. These bikes use a mixed wheel “mullet” setup with a smaller back wheel and wider tire, giving additional strength without losing any traction. An added bonus of using Cushcore is that they make inserts in a range of sizes, so each one is perfectly sized to fit the front or the rear.

Watch this space for Cushcore appearing on some other bikes in the near future...

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So is Cushcore worth it?

We’ve tested it, we love it. Two thumbs up from the Marin engineers, pro-riders, staff and many of our customers. Yes, Cushcore is worth it.

If you ride hard, you’ll come to love the extra puncture-proofing and performance of tire inserts, and we reckon they’re one of the best value upgrades you can make to your bikes.

Even if your bike doesn’t come with Cushcore, try it and see for yourself!

And how to remove a tire with cushcore?

Removing your tire with cushcore is just the same as remove your tire with a tubeless setup or inner tube. It does, however, require a little more effort as the insert puts pressure on the tire sidewalls, creating a tight fit.

This video shows you exactly how to remove a tire with a Cushcore insert installed.

Matt Jones riding the Marin Rift Zone E on dusty trail

Anything else you need to know about Cushcore?

How much does Cushcore weigh? That depends on which model of Cushcore you choose, and your wheel size.

Cushcore Pro, the brand’s most heavy-duty insert, weighs around 250g per pair. The mid-weight, mid-protection Cushcore Trail is around 210g per pair and the lightweight Cushcore XC is around 195g. Those numbers are for 29", by the way.

Do you have to use Cushcore valves? Tire inserts need special insert-compatible valves. Our Cushcore-equipped bikes come fitted with Cushcore’s own valves, but, any insert-compatible valve will do.

And finally, do you need sealant with a Cushcore Insert? Yes, you do need tire sealant with a Cushcore tire insert. You should setup your tires exactly the same as you would for tubeless, just with the addition of the insert. You should check Cushcore’s installation instructions for the full guide.

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