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How do you pick the perfect tyre pressure? Does it depend on the terrain you ride? The bike you ride? Or do you run high pressure to avoid expensive tyre and rim damage?
Sadly, running higher than the ideal pressure to avoid damage is a common reality for riders who love gravity disciplines and/or ride rocky terrain. For years the common solution has been to run higher pressures often in conjunction with heavier DH oriented tyres. This prevents potential damage but you sacrifice traction and take a large weight penalty (even more pronounced on 29ers!). So, how do you ride comfortably knowing you're not going to destroy your expensive rim and tyre? Thankfully, there are two new game changers recently released on the market - Huck Norris and Flat Tire Defender We'll compare the two which will let you know which one is better for your ride.
These two products are slightly different which we'll go into detail later, but the overall goal is virtually the same - Prevent rim and tyre damage while letting you run the perfect tyre pressure. These foam inserts are exactly that, foam inserts that fit in between your rim and tyre. Basically, this creates a cushion to protect tyres and rims from everything you smash into. While we can't 100% promise that these products will protect you from everything, rider reviews are stating they are outstanding!
Now that we know the basics, let's go into each product a little more in depth starting with Huck Norris. Huck Norris is sold in threes different widths depending on your internal rim width. All versions come ready for 29ers with a guide to cut for 27.5" The strips are held together in loops with a piece of velcro. 26" wheels are possible, but you will have to measure where to cut and figure out how to attach the ends. As for installation, it's incredibly simple. Huck Norris sits directly inside the tyre - just reinstall your tyre, inflate and you're done. Huck will press your sidewalls out a touch, so it could be slightly harder to reinstall. But that's it, simple as that. Oh, and best of all, the packaging doubles as a fender!
Flat Tire Defender, proven by Aaron Gwin is the other alternative offered currently. This one differs in a couple ways compared to Huck. The Flat Tire Defender comes shipped in a closed loop available in your wheel size (Currently no 29" DH option). They come in either 'standard' or Plus widths. Check out our product page for ideal rim widths. The main difference between the Enduro and DH versions is the foam density. The DH version provides better protection for more aggressive riding. Enduro riders who run lower pressures should consider the DH version. The Flat Tire Defender sits directly against the rim and requires a special valve that prevents the foam from blocking air. Longer stems are sold separately if your rims require them. The Flat Tire Defender installs somewhat like a partially inflated tube. It can make it slightly more difficult and does include zip ties to help installation. Please check out their installation video on our description page.
While they are slightly different, they do offer similar solutions to the age-old problems of torn sidewalls and mangled rims. Both products will require slightly extra sealant as there's more surface area to coat inside the tyre. Also, both these products will likely need to be replaced at some point down the road. If you smash into objects, you could break the foam down decreasing its effectiveness and potentially tear it which will soak up sealant. These are long term issues which shouldn't worry you. If it's breaking down from use, that means it's working and protecting your equipment!
Yes, these may seem like simple pieces of foam, but they actually work! They allow you to run perfect tyre pressures while reducing the risk of damage. If you're a gravity rider or ride chunky terrain, these two products will pay for themselves! Hopefully, this comparison will help you determine which one if better for you. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Until next time,
P.S. All this Huck Norris talk wouldn't be complete without an actual Chuck Norris joke - If harnessed, a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick could power the country of Australia for 44 minutes.