Huck Norris NSMB AndrewM (2).jpg
REVIEW | EDITORIAL

Huck Norris Revisited

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Apr 26, 2019

Insert Extinction‽

I had a great experience with the ride quality and custom setup process of Schwalbe’s ProCore, especially for the front wheel. For €69/pair, 85-gram* each, the Huck Norris inserts saved my local Trek Stache experience by allowing me to focus on setting up its tires for support and traction without paying attention to other factors. All my friends who bucked up for Cushcore, even the ones who aren't rim-killers, agreed with Cam's assessment that "the improved traction and suspension performance" were worth the weight penalty.

But then in a recent straw poll I conducted of folks I know who were running inserts I could only track down a couple of riders still riding them - Cushcores in downhill and 'shuttlenduro' bikes for the record. Even more surprising to me, the folks still running them are mainly going rear only. It's all about rim protection, not the ride quality improvement we all appreciated.

*85-grams before they absorb an arguable amount of sealant.

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

ProCore really helps with tubeless setup. Huck Norris? Maybe. It certainly isn't a hindrance but it's floating so the beads aren't locked in place.

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

Don't expect to get more than a year out of a Huck Norris insert if you're bottoming regularly. It doesn't always bounce back.

There are plenty of reasons: Weight is weight. Schwalbe never adjusted ProCore for the wider i30mm+ rims that are the new normal, and the special valves clog way too easily*. Cushcore is heavy-heavy and makes changing tires and trail side repairs a PIA. It's still quite possible to dent or crack a rim running Huck Norris.

The promise of countering the weight increase by running lighter tires was a loss leader that resulted in an increase of ride ending mechanicals. New Enduro tires provide almost DH-level support and there's a universal feeling that a heavier duty tire setup tubeless wins everyday against a lighter duty tire with an insert.

As something that seemed revolutionary a couple seasons ago, and with new competitors with their own takes on the concept popping up, the apparent waning of insert interest is a curiosity.

*If I was still running ProCore I'd drill a second hole in my rim and use a regular tube.

Huck Gnarris

Cleaning up my little shop, I happened upon a gnarly-gross Huck Norris insert folded up in a bag. Sort of like finding last month's lunch in the back of a high school locker, my gut reaction was to bin it immediately. The velcro loop that joins the two ends together was fused with goop and the thing smelled like ancient Stan's sealant.

I had disposed of its totally punched partner ages ago. Having run it with a single ply Bontrager Chupacabra (now XR2) on the back of a hardtail, it was totally squished in numerous places. Inserts are certainly a wear item if they're being bottomed regularly between the tire and rim.

On my own bikes I run much heavier casing rear tires and find I get plenty of traction, comfort, and rim protection for my riding from an Enduro-casing 2.6" tire. I had removed this front insert on the Stache when I installed the Manitou Mattoc Pro IRT. Combined with a good tire, the IRT air system and hydraulic bottom out of the Mattoc made it so I didn't miss the front insert.

Manitou Mattoc Pro NSMB AndrewM.jpg

The Manitou IRT air system and adjustable hydraulic bottom out made front inserts obsolete for me.

Rocky Mountain Growler 40 AndrewM

The completeGrowler 40 isn't much more money than a high-end suspension fork. Some extra damping via a cheap insert could be a difference maker?

I resisted the urge to toss the manky foam strip and looked around at the bikes in my shop. I've already installed some Tough Casing WTB Vigilante tires on the Growler 40, as part of my Spring Service piece, and the damping improvement over the single ply Rangers was huge.

Still the complete Growler doesn't cost much scratch more than a top-end suspension fork and the basic Suntour Raidon does struggle to keep things controlled on rough tracks. One Huck Norris insert up front could be a cheap way to add some damping. I did really like how it changed the ramp up in the 29x3" Maxxis DHF 3c I ran on the Stache.

I went as far as getting the cutters out.

Huck Norris NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The Bontrager SE4 29x3" has as much sidewall support as any 29+ tire I've tried but I'd still take more. On rocky trails it's still tricky to balance basketball vs bottom-outs.

Huck Norris NSMB AndrewM.JPG

My Walt riding has been progressing a surprising amount lately and the Huck Norris is supremely helpful in maximizing front traction and rim protection.

The hardest part about testing bikes, and to a lesser extent parts, is deciding when I'm done and that's regularly reinforced by experiences like the one I've been having with my Walt Works this Spring. I've loved this bike since I first built it up and I've experimented with a lot of setups but for whatever reason a switch flipped and I'm riding the bike significantly harder and faster than I was last year. To the point that it was getting hard to balance comfort and traction without hard bottoming* the front end regularly.

"Have you thought about trying Huck Norris?" says my friend Chris. "Huh, you know... I actually have one in usable shape sitting in the shop."

I'm one of those people who hasn't ridden a tire insert in coming up on two years. I don't see myself running one on the back again outside of a shuttle/park bike. But, up front I'm sure enjoying the quieter bottom-outs, the more aggressive ramp up of the tire, and worry-reduced rock garden riding.

There may be something to these tire insert things.

*Yes, I've heard of suspension forks, thanks. Have you tried a modern rigid setup?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

denomerdano
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer Andrew Major
Denomerdano  - April 26, 2019, 6:09 a.m.

I was going to post this in the Tannus review, but feels more appropriate here.

Setup: WR1 Agents and EXO 2.5WT MAXXIS rubbers on a SLash 29er with a YARI out front and a sad neglected Reaktiv out back.

Yes, my suspension is aging and spiky even with 150/160mm on tap. 

Enter Huck Norris in plus size front and back. I have been running 18-20psi upfront and 22-24psi in the back in the rockiest part of Spain. Trails are dry, and fast. the razor shaped rocks are all over the place.

As I try to balance a happy medium of traction, sensitivity(Cause the suspension ain't gonna do it on this bike) and bottom out protection. The bike works extremely well. 
Next week, i will leave the dry rocks of Spain for BC and I will service my suspension(perhaps even change/upgrade)

I will most likely abandon the inserts(atleast the front) in exchange for a beefier sidewalls.

When the suspension is working, you get away with lighter tires. When it is absent, I have to work with what I have.

Reply

metacomet
+5 Tjaard Breeuwer Shrockie Andrew Major Agleck7 BenZ
Metacomet  - April 26, 2019, 7:34 a.m.

Please continue to do these revisit's.  They rock, and they provide genuinely valuable insight and more accurately reflect the experience a person will have with a product over its lifecycle.   This is a big part of why your content is consistently above everyone else's.  

I tried running hucknorris for a time, but it wasnt quite up to the task and I was still getting pinch flats more frequently than I had hoped, and the thing got cut to ribbons in short order in the rear tire.  Enter cushcore for that application. 

I had the hucknorris set aside in a storage room, and the front was still in decent enough shape to be used again for something else eventually if I found a purpose for it.  Ended up putting it in the rear tire of my sons 24" Transition Ripcord and it provided a ton of peace-of-mind for running lower pressures for him, especially when we were riding at the bike park.  He had pinched a bunch of tubes prior to going tubeless on his bike.  Tubeless plus the hucknorris really increased the capabilities of the bike quite a bit for him. 

I'm also curious about the people you mentioned that quit running inserts over time.  I know I'm not giving mine up any time soon!

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AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:24 p.m.

Cheers!

Like your kid’s bike I suspect Huck Norris for many folks is a last-5%-product. 

The SE4 up front on my bike is 95% there but I need a bit more support and a bit less volume than I get from it. 

Cush Core removal I think just comes down to weight. Anytime I see the signature green stems I tease the rider re. They actually still have the inserts in.

Actually road with a couple this past weekend who were both still on CC - that’s timing for you. Other than riding tires past the best before date because they’re a PIA to change they are still stoked on them.

Reply

skyler
+1 Andrew Major
Skyler  - April 26, 2019, 8:08 a.m.

There are a lot of new double-ply casings on the market since the start of the tire insert stuff.  I wonder if that's why people are ditching inserts?

18-23PSI in a rear WTB Judge 2.4 Tough feels amazingly damp and stable, AND is supportive enough to rule out run rim strikes. At 1300g, it's the same weight as running an EXO and cushcore, but it's a lot cheaper and less faff. Same experience in the Vigilante 2.8 Tough that we both love, Andrew...I used to need Huck Norris on my plus hardtail, but the double ply casing makes it way less important now.

Reply

Vikb
+2 Tjaard Breeuwer Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - April 26, 2019, 9:16 a.m.

The people I know who were super keen on CC and have since ditched it have done so because they continue to have failures [including cracked rims/flats] and when they do it's 10 times worse than without the inserts. Not to mention the ride of shame limping back to the trail head on a damaged rim/tire with a sopping wet sealant soaked insert worn bandoleer style because they had to put a tube in.

The inserts did provide some benefits, but when taken as a whole it wasn't worth it.

That equation works out differently for every rider so I am not suggesting inserts are not a good idea for anyone. As always YMMV.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:20 p.m.

Vik, curious if have you only seen this with LB carbon rims or with other rims as well?

I’ve heard numerous tales of this with both CushCore and ProCore apparently because it transfers loads to an area of the rim that isn’t designed to take it but every story I recall is an LB or LB-made rim.

I asked the guys at Reynolds about it a couple years ago and they had zero concerns about inserts vs the loads their rims can take.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Skyler
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:17 p.m.

WTB, where are the 29x3” (or even 2.8”) Vigilantes in Tough Casing/High Grip?!?! Own the niches!

Reply

skyler
+1 Andrew Major
Skyler  - April 26, 2019, 1:25 p.m.

I would loooove some 27.5x3.0 Vigilantes too!

Edit: I also know like 15 people who would put something like a 29x 2.8 Vigilante High Grip on the front of their bikes for Oct-May riding here in Calgary.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 3:12 p.m.

I’m totally the CHO (chief harassment officer) for that tire!

Reply

andy-eunson
+2 dan_l Niels
Andy Eunson  - April 26, 2019, 8:42 a.m.

So glad I’m only 143 pounds and get away with EXO and 15 psi or so no problem. I could have used a Huck Norris strip on my shin yesterday though. Do they work as body armour?

Reply

Timer
+1 Andrew Major
Timer  - April 26, 2019, 1:10 p.m.

I'm of similar weight and somehow managed to punch right trough a brand new Vittoria Martelllo (reinforced sidewall and thread in one hit ) on a relatively mellow trail. Glad the rim survived.

Now I'm debating between adding Huck Norris or upgrading to beefier tires (like DD). Sadly there aren't many tires with strong casings that still roll well enough for all day pedal epics.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:15 p.m.

Yeah, I don’t need it out back (2.6” SE5) but certainly Huck Norris makes tires rideable for me up front that wouldn’t be otherwise.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - April 29, 2019, 4:36 p.m.

29" x 2.4" Der Baron Projekt Protection APEX - best all round tyre. Awesome results over the past three years. I ride a Huck Norris on the rear wheel on my Range (We Are One Agent) but do't bother with them on my Sight (We Are One Insiders).

Reply

craw
+5 trumpstinyhands Andrew Major AJ Barlas Niels Skyler
Cr4w  - April 26, 2019, 9:34 a.m.

I ran a rear Huck Norris for a while but it really didn't seem to do much for my 220lbs except become a major nuisance when I tore my tire and had to use a tube to get home (and carry my sloppy Huck Norris on my pack). I switched to DD casing and that brought an immediate and noticeable improvement to ride quality. I'm now running slightly lower pressures, get good compliance, no rim strikes and no sidewall tearing (which I would do 1-2 times a year with EXO). 

I think inserts have been a good proof of concept: modern tires need a little extra something. Now it should be up to the tire manufacturers to bake these requirements into the tires themselves. There's always going to be a place for inserts as an accessory for extreme use but it seems for most they're overkill. Surely there's a relatively lightweight happy medium.

Reply

pedalhound
0
pedalhound  - April 26, 2019, 9:36 a.m.

I am looking at the Rimpact #sendnoodz, they look like a good mix of HuckNorris and Cushcore...the light weight of huck norris and the more robust design of the cushcore. https://www.rimpactmtb.com/

Reply

craw
0
Cr4w  - April 26, 2019, 12:05 p.m.

Those look promising. Are they open-ended or not? It's kind of hard to tell from the photos on the site.

The Vittoria one isn't. https://www.competitivecyclist.com/vittoria-air-liner-tire-insert?avad=193258_b14e98fdd

The Nukeproof ARD look promising too but have yet to be in stock. https://www.chainreactioncycles.com/ca/en/nukeproof-horizon-advanced-rim-defence-ard-pair/rp-prod172999

Reply

pedalhound
0
pedalhound  - April 26, 2019, 3:21 p.m.

I believe they are fully round, no open ends like the Vittoria. I was interested in the Vittoria ones, but I hear after a while they get a little rattle-ey as the zip tie that keeps them together pulls at the foam and it loosens up a bit.

Reply

HeadOverHandlebars
+2 chachmonkey Cr4w
Adam Grice  - April 26, 2019, 3:45 p.m.

The Nukeproof ARDs were in stock briefly two weeks ago and I was able to snag a pair. They feel very firm to the touch, so much so that I could only compress it a few millimeters with my fingers. Setup (with WTB Vigilante 27.5x2.5s, tough high grip front and back) was more difficult than a standard tubeless tire, not as bad as some of the horror stories I've heard about Cushcore, and probably more difficult than the Huck Norris. They look to fill the tire well and are large enough to provide some sidewall support, but they only weigh about as much as an inner tube. I've only got one ride on them, plus a few laps on the one drop and one jump in my backyard, but I like them so far. I ran around 5-7 psi lower than usual front and rear and didn't feel like my rims were in danger, even on some fast sections with lots of sharp-edged rocks. Cornering grip was improved, and although it felt like the rear tire was squirming a bit more it still felt supported, and not like it would completely fold over or burp. I'll try and make a followup post on the forums at some point in the future, if you're interested. I hope they hold up well over time. For reference, I weigh about 215 sans pack, am a fairly aggressive rider, and ride a hardtail, a bad combination for my rims. Sorry for the wall of text.

Reply

Jcmonty
0
Jcmonty  - April 27, 2019, 11:35 a.m.

I have been running rimpact inserts for a few months (200+ miles).  I am far from the land of trees and loam (live in San Diego) ,  but have put them through their fair share of rocks,  steeps, baby heads,  loose over hard pack,  and even some good dirt (for us).  These have been used on 27.5.  SC reserve 37 with Maxxis 2.6 

I haven’t ran other inserts before so my review may be skewed a bit ,  but overall I like them.  No pinch flats ,  modestly improved sidewalk support,  a bit more damping, and actually not really a pia to install. 

Pressures are slightly lower than I was running previously , but I think I could get away with 3-4psi less for most rides .  

My setup is on the edge of what they recommend I terms of rim width and tire size,  and most reports with narrower setups seem to point to even more improvements.

Overall,  I think it’s worth a shot given the relatively low cost and weight

Reply

babyzhendo
+2 Andrew Major AJ Barlas
babyzhendo  - April 26, 2019, 10:07 a.m.

I have a Huck Norris in the rear tire of my Sentinel and while it doesn't provide the damping benefit that the Cush Core does (which is very real by my experience), it's nice piece of mind for unexpected rock hits at high speed. Where Huck Norris and Cush Core (and the million other options popping up) all seem to differ is in the amount of difference in "feel" or damping that they provide, and I can confidently say that Cush Core provides the most of that, whereas Huck Norris provides the least.

The amount of support that Cush Core provides when cornering super hard is really awesome. Some people like them as an excuse to be able to run ridiculously low tire pressure, but I think any tire feels like crap at less than 17-18 PSI even with an insert. The Cush Core on my DH bike has saved rims several times riding in the Whistler Bike Park, but ultimately it's an insurance policy - I know that I destroy wheels in the bike park, so its worth it. On my trail bike, the weight isn't worth it, so I run a more bare bones option (Huck Norris) that can still give me a better shot at my wheel/tire surviving unexpected circumstances.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:11 p.m.

I’d be all over trying a CushCore up front if it was compatible with my hardtail setup (i39 rim / 3” tire). 

Running DH rubber I don’t need them on a duallie.

Reply

metacomet
0
Metacomet  - April 26, 2019, 1:15 p.m.

CushCore makes a plus version now, but only in 27.5.  Are you running 29+?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:26 p.m.

Biggest they offer for 29” appears to be 2.6”/i35.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 7:11 p.m.

I may be mistaken here - holding. 

There may be a 29+ version now.

Reply

Lynx
+1 Andrew Major
MountainBikeBarbados .  - April 26, 2019, 11:47 a.m.

Another interesting piece Andrew, keep them coming.

Like you, I've gone full rigid for just over the last year, only pull the FS out for the occasional lift assisted days the guys do once or twice a year and last one a month ago, was wishing I'd brought the rigid. The only thing I struggle with is the same as you, being able to run low enough pressure to get good compliance without bottoming out the tyre on rim. When I run high enough pressure to avoid that, then suffering pinging off roots and such at higher speeds, which ain't half bad, except when you're on a fast, off camber DH with trees lining closely. Was thinking on running an insert in the front to try and help stop this, as it's the only thing I don't like and that stops me from riding one particular roll/drop on the rigid - on the FS I just roll to the top and let go the brakes and let the suspension deal with everything, no problem.

Running a 29x3.0" DHF EXO on the front, but looking at the Bonti XR4 and wondering if going to the SE4 and thicker casing could let me do like you said and drop pressure without getting the balloon bounce effect.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2019, 1:08 p.m.

I wish Bontrager did a 3” SE5 (and that WTB did a 29x3” Vigilante in the Tough Casing... and that Schwalbe did a 29x3” Magic Mary)... but dreams aside the SE4 is the best 29+ tire I’ve ridden - though I am still running the Huck Norris up front.

I don’t get the XR series Plus tires. No one is racing competitive XC on 3” rubber and the ride quality (support) sucks comparatively never mind the durability. Definitely go SE.

Reply

Lynx
0
MountainBikeBarbados .  - April 26, 2019, 3:39 p.m.

Thanks for the reply Andrew. How would you compare the XR4 to the DHF casing wise? Curious as the weights are quite close, so expect the Bonti casing to actually be a bit more robust from my experience with Bonti and Maxxis. Havn't had any issues with the DHF in terms of durability, just the bounce if I run it at my preferred 10 PSI on i39 rim. Not really looking to add more weight to the bike, but if an extra 130g will help give some dampening and stop the pinging off #hit, it'd be worth it I think.

Also experimenting with going down to some 2.4-2.6" rubber to see how much different it is compared to the 3" in terms of forgiveness and grip, also to drop some weight and see how that feels and if I can push as hard on the skinnier rubber.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2019, 8:06 a.m.

I had better luck with the casing on the Minion than the XR casing. In either case, SE is better.

Full disclosure: I love the Minion Fr in 29x2.3”. The centre to side knob transition is perfect. It’s okay in 2.5” (lots of tires I like better) and I’m not a fan of the 3”. 

The centre to side gap on the 3” Minion Fr is too huge/vague. It was fine (being a Plus Tire) until I tried the SE4 but the SE4 is so superior on the trail I recycled the DHF tires I had. 

If I was going to try another Maxxis it would be the 3” DHR2 for sure.

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Heinous
0
Heinous  - April 27, 2019, 1:58 a.m.

Timely - I'm grappling with what to put in the back of my new 29" hardtail. I've had poor luck on plus (2.8x27.5) until I put Huck's in, and in the end still ended up running a narrower rear rim to close down the volume and provide more ramp.

I'll be running a singlespeed, so ideally not adding much weight to the wheel, but keep wondering if I shouldn't have built a 25-27mm internal rear instead of a 30mm.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2019, 7:59 a.m.

I’ve had good luck running 2.6” rubber on an i39 rim out back but I’m definitely running firmer pressure out back then most folks I know with +|- tires.

Bontrager SE and WTB Tough Casing have both been great. Also running 29”.

Reply

Cambo
+3 chachmonkey Agleck7 Andrew Major
Cambo  - April 27, 2019, 7:43 a.m.

I can’t say I notice the added ramp up or volume reduction of Huck Norris. People regularly destroy rims with Huck. It doesn’t stay fastened and pretty much falls apart in the lifetime of a tire. 

With Cush  on the other hand, the ramp up is hella noticeable. Damping is excellent, flats are drastically reduced. Burping isn’t happenning and lateral tire stability is superior . Rim damage is way less likely.

On the back, I will always run Cush on my enduro / dh bike. It’s too damn good, weight be damned. If adding grams is a concern for your down country dentist-Cycle wait a month or two and an XC version will be out.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 27, 2019, 8:02 a.m.

It’s nothing compared to Cush Core. My challenge with CC is rim-tire size but it looks like there’s now a 29+ version so I’m going to look into it for up front. 

As I noted, even with decent sidewall support and using Huck Norris for that last 5% it’s definitely a wear item.

Still, performance/weight ratio has been good for me through a few different bike situations.

Reply

T-mack
+1 Ac
T-mack  - April 27, 2019, 9:11 a.m.

I'm running dual CC. WR1 Agents with Minion WT tires.  If I had to choose between running only one it would be on the front. The reason being even with CC on the back, if I run lower pressures the tire still squirms in hard corners. It doesn't burp thanks to CC but it does squirm so I run normal pressures anyway. The lower psi in the front feels amazing in my hands though and it's definatly more about the ride quality instead of rim protection.

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