Tuesday, December 8

Insert BOING

I think it's obvious that I'm gonna be a hard tail kinda guy for the foreseeable future.  Even if my brain is telling me that this is just the way, COVID-related bike stuff shortages are sure to keep me pounding my spine into powder regardless of what I might find myself thinking I'd want when I get to staring off into space and daydreaming.  Hard to make a rash decision when you're told any bike you might desire won't be available for some months, and more than likely, even some more months after that.

The Vertigo Meatplow V.7 is about as sorted out as it ever will be.  The Vassago Meatplow V.8 keeps getting tweaked here and there.  Recently, when I put the 140mm Fox 34 on the front part of my bike (where "front forks" go), I found myself in familiar territory riding through rough terrain in a non-tire management manner.

AKA pinch flatting the tire at the rim by hitting square edge rocks and random trail detritus with a certain lack of finesse (what others might call "skill").  Not wanting to have to choose better lines at said semi-reckless speed or mebbe just slow down, I started to look into tire inserts.

I think we all know you get the best bike advice on FaceBook.  That's also where I found out that the election isn't over yet and Epstein didn't kill himself.

After about a week of consternation, I decided that CushCore would be the way to go.  Bill Nye and I split a set of CushCore XC inserts.  He had the opportunity to install his before I did, and I came over to his place to help.  He had one bead of the tire off when I got there, and we worked diligently to coax the insert into place.  I told him that wasn't how I saw it done on YouTube.  That internet expert removed the tire before putting the insert on (in?). 

It was a "two monkeys fucking a football" scenario, but in the end, the football got fucked and the monkeys high-fived and the people of the land rejoiced.

So a week or so later, the night after I got back from Florida... and after I cooked Thanksgiving dinner... and after unfucking my rear free hub bearings, I decided to keep pressing on with bike maintenance and install my CushCore XC.

7:18PM.  Tire off and slipping the CushCore into place.

7:21PM and using the "foot stepping on a padded tool holding down the rim because Bill Nye didn't come to your house to help" method...

7:29PM, after waiting for the compressor to fill and getting another beer and losing track of my phone and relocating it for documentation purposes and... some other futzing about...

Less than fifteen minutes.  No swearing.  A misstep here or there.  Otherwise painless.

Time to ride it.

Based on close to next to nothing as far as real research, I aired down the rear tire from my normal 22.5PSI to 20.5PSI, because if I wanna find out if I can pinch flat it now, what better way?

The first ride was a non-consequential dip into the Backyard Trails.  Kinda hard to get rowdy there, at least in a pinch flatty kinda way.  The bike felt sluggish... or was it me?  The Backyard is not known for its flow.  The insert only weighs as much as a mid-weight innertube.  I member innertubes.  Honestly, the trip to Florida musta got to me in some way.  I woke up Thanksgiving morning and felt the onset of a cold sore.  I get them when I push myself in a stressful manner.  Was it the lack of sleep?  The beer?  The anger and self-loathing from soaking The Pie's car trunk in Awesome Cleaner and then riding my hub to its noisy death at Santos? 

Dunno, but regardless, I was worn thin.  Next day... why not Pisgah?  Four thousand feet of climbing and descending should be a nice way to recover from whatever is pulling me into the abyss of declining health.

Barlow and I had a great day in Pisgah on Black, Buckwheat, Bennett, and Middle/Lower Black.  The kinda rowdy riding where you can really slam into some aforementioned square edge rocks and random trail detritus.

Me on the not-so-slammy Qbert Rock part of Bennett, totally not cleaning it.  Mang, I stopped doing it for years, cleaned it the last time on the my first try when I was just previously here... but not today.

Anyhoo, I did my best to slam into all the obstacles and ride like an idiot.  I can only say that it felt soooooo good for such purposes.  Once again tho, it felt slow on the climbs.  Loads of traction, but... but... but then again, I woke up the heaviest I've been since... January?


I did manage to get out to the hills this past weekend, and I looked for things to run into once again.  I took a perfectly wonderful square-edged hit to the rear wheel close to the top of Greens Lick.  Such a sweet rim strike noise... I was so expecting a flat tire and having to call out to my compatriots that not only did I have a flat, I did it on purpose.

But nothing happened.

On top of that, with slightly less pressure, I felt a little more comfortable leaning the bike over between my legs on rough corners.  It was less likely to be careened off rocks and roots losing much needed traction.  It did feel better on the climbs... well, sorta.  Things were a bit mushy at Bent Creek that day, but I felt "less chubby" and more able to keep the pedals turning.

I don't think I wanna ride a hard tail aggressively in the mountains without an insert.  I mean... well...

I won't put one on the Vertigo Meatplow V.7.  The rigid fork helps keep me in check, and I've probably had as many front pinch flats as I've had rear.  It's a different style of riding altogether.  Also, the weight weenie racer boi in me won't let it happen.  Just.  Won't.

The Vassago Meatplow V.8 feels like an entirely different bike from when I first built it, now with the longer fork, a tire insert, a 185mm drooper, and slimmer grips.  It's definitely gone from a "might wanna race this bike" bike to a "ain't nothing but a good time" bike.  Pretty sure I'm gonna have to knock the dust off the Step Cast 34 and get it ready to go to the market.  It's not going back on this bike.

Back to the CushCore...

I'm in love, but I can only give it my Seal of Semi-Approval.

Unfortunately, every CushCore insert ships stock with a green valve stem.  This does not fit in my color scheme very well.

I understand the marketing behind it.  How else do you get people to know about a product that other riders can never see?  Not everyone is going to put the included CushCore stickers on their rims.  I certainly won't.  Unlike many cooler fanatics out there, I'm not putting a YETI sticker on my bumper to let everyone know I paid full price for a product that they too could buy with their money if they so choose.  That said, my vanity has a price, and that dollar amount is something under the $25 I'd have to pay for a pair of valve stems (no singles) that will work with CushCore in my particular colorway.

So they get this tiny bit of free marketing space on every ride from now on.  Welcome, I guess.


Doug M. said...

Insert on the back of a fun hardtail is best life! Went from cratering a rim per year to just throwing the back end wherever through whatever, unscathed.

hellbelly said...

I did Cushcore on a rear wheel for six months. I found the benefits claimed (better damping...meh; less flats/rim protection...yeah) not worth the downsides (still a PITA to seat on a good day, heavy enough to make acceleration feel sluggish and if you actually get a flat you cannot plug yr flat out fucked because trying to pull the damn thing out trail side is a nightmare...yes happened to me). I suppose if you are racing elite level DH/Enduro or ride in spiky rocks all the time then sure. Otherwise, run Huck Norris which are super easy to deal with, weigh nothing and give you all the flat proofing and rim protection.

NordieBoy said...

I found I couldn't drop my pressures as it would get too draggy.
I normally run 18f/20r.

The inserts are like a dropper post.
Not necessary, but the confidence they give is well worth it.