Huck Norris
FLAT and DING PREVENTION - A REVIEW

Huck Norris Saves The Day

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Apr 26, 2017

Huck Norris

Huck Norris is a simple foam liner that lives in your tubeless tires. The shape is optimized to keep weight low and to postion the liner between your rim and the inside of your tire in the event of an impact, preventing both punctures and rim damage. But Huck Norris wouldn't rest after just a pair of claims. 

The system weighs 85 grams a wheel, is really simple to install and looks like someone went to town on a drab pool noodle with a razor blade. It costs €79 a pair and it works. Yep, it really works.

For all the technical details and more information on the specific, totally not pool noodle or yoga mat material, please check out Cam's first look here

Huck Norris

Huck Norris doesn't look like much, but who wouldn't want a little extra protection against flats and dings if it only costs you 85 grams and a little extra sealant?

Huck Norris vs. Procore

I'm on record as being a pretty big fan of Schwalbe's Procore system. I'm going hedge that statement by saying 'other than the added weight and complexity' but otherwise the difference in air volume improves ride quality unequivocally with every tire I've used. The bottom out bumper has undoubtedly saved me at least one rim and I love the way my tire beads are supported from inside. 

Wait, isn't this a Huck Norris review? I hadn't seen any media for Huck Norris the first time I heard of it. A couple guys were talking - laughing actually - about the system they'd seen online and the "gimmicky" idea of adding a cross section of a pool noodle to their tubeless setups. I was immediately intrigued. 

Can it combine stupidly-easy installation with a substantial percentage of the benefits of Procore?

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

Installing the Huck Norris system is laughably easy. Stick it in. Velcro the two halves together. Add twice the sealant I normally run. Install the tire as per normal. It adds a minute to a tire install - including trimming the Velcro. 

I sort of left it there. These days, for a few reasons, I only run Procore on the front of one bike all the time and on the front of another occasionally. But Huck Norris wasn't done with me. A couple short months later the system has proven itself and saved my testing experience on the Trek Stache.

Cheaper, much easier to install, compatible with a range of internal rim widths and with zero maintenance beyond topping up the tubeless solution it soaks up. It won't keep my tire bead in place in the event of a catastrophic sidewall failure but aside from that, there is a lot to like about the simple man's rim protection. 

Bontrager Chupacabra

Bontrager's 29 x 3" Chupacabra tires are an awesome rubber choice. For other places. I'm sure this is the case because the relatively light, relatively durable, fast rolling, and very supple tires are a favorite of a few riders I know who don't live anywhere near the wet coast of British Columbia. 

I wanted to love the Stache right out of the box but even compared to other more XC-Trail rubber I couldn't get the Chupacabras to behave - particularly up front in greasy North Shore conditions. I found it impossible to balance air pressure low enough for decent traction, and high enough for proper support. I bottomed the front and rear rims a handful of times in the experimentation process. 


Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

Bontrager's 29 x 3" Chupacabras set up for tubeless just fine (and it's even easier with Huck Norris inside) and are notably supple. For local riding, I found it impossible to balance traction with support before installing the inserts. 

When NSMB received a pair of inserts wide enough for the Stache's Duroc rims I knew it was the trail gods trying to make the world right again. I didn't ride the Stache again until I had installed them and I've ridden it plenty since. 

Huck Norris makes five claims about their 'puncture protection' system. A few are over-inflated. But for the most part I think they hold pressure.

Dents

With Huck Norris installed, rims dent rocks. 

I'm going to call this one True. I have hard bottomed both my front and rear rims numerous times with Huck Norris installed and there is no visible damage to the rims. One of the front bottom outs was vicious enough to force sealant out around my tire bead on one side and after a loud celebration of having survived the moment I continued on my ride with zero hassles. 

Both the sound and feeling of said bottom out is also greatly reduced running Huck Norris compared to the standard rock + tire + rim affair I'm used to. It's still plainly obvious when I bottom out on the rim but much like the big rubber bumper on the shaft of a coil shock there isn't the sound or feeling of expensive bike parts being trashed against each other. 

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

It doesn't show up well in photos but both front and rear Huck Norris is showing a couple points where the foam has compressed in a hard strike and not fully rebounded. It could just be feigning injury to lull the rocks into a false sense of security?

In addition to absorbing a fair amount of sealant (adding weight) there are a couple of places in both the front and rear inserts where Huck Norris didn't fully recover from bruising hits. There is still elasticity in these zones so I'll say the insert has lots of life left but I think it is best to consider it a product that will require replacement over time if it's being put to work regularly. 

Punctures

With Huck Norris installed, tires bite snakes. 

This smells a lot like bullsh*t but I'll give the claim a passing grade. I have actually managed to snake bite a single wall tire while running it tubeless. And in that case sealant was pouring out of both holes - quite a bit more novel than a single hole in my tire. Huck Norris ensures my tire can't pinch itself between the rim and a rock. That prevents one type of punctures. 

That said, the system isn't going to do sweet all if the Chupacabra's 120tpi casing meets any kind of invincible force or immovable object.

Tubeless Setup

With Huck Norris installed, tires blow up compressors. 

I haven't used an air compressor to inflate one of my tubeless setups for years - just a big floor pump and a valve core remover - but this is another entry in the True category for the system. 

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

I remove the tubeless stem valve cores before beading up my tires for the first time to improve airflow. The Chupacabra is easily set up tubeless with a floor pump. The entire process is faster and easier with Huck Norris installed. It's not Procore easy but the little bit of pressure from inside the tire definitely helps. 

Setting up the wide 3" Chupacabra tires tubeless on the Sun Duroc rims is far from the worst tubeless-ing I've been through but I did use a little soapy water on the rear to fast forward the process. Installation is easily accomplished with a high volume floor pump, with the valve cores removed and then re-inserted once the tires beaded up.

With Huck Norris, inflating my tires is a faster and easier process. Like Procore, the insert applies enough pressure to the bead for the inside that getting things going is a lot less of an exercise. Pump, pump, pump and pop. Re-insert the valve core, top up and go ride my bike. 

On its own, the ease of installation isn't an 85g per wheel (plus additional sealant) upgrade but it's a nice auxiliary feature. 

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

No more over-inflating single ply tires for proper support while at the same time sacrificing performance or getting all-the-flats while sending my rims on a kamikaze mission. 

No Need to Overinflate 

With Huck Norris installed, tires dictate air pressure to the trail. 

I found achieving the right air pressure for the Chupacabras in greasy local conditions was a mythological task. I used my patented fat bike technique of airing down the tires until they felt squirrely and then adding a few pumps of air until they were supportive enough. No dice. 

It was either a zero-grip slip & slide on a pair of basketballs or regular rim strikes and the cringing idea of trashing the single ply tires at the farthest possible place from home.  

With Huck Norris, I've managed to balance support and traction without sacrificing rim and tire longevity. I bottom on the inserts regularly and only very rarely is it hard enough to register any concern. 

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

I can't normally get away with riding single ply sidewalls but with Huck Norris on my team it is definitely an option. That doesn't mean it's my first choice. 

No DH Tires?!

With Huck Norris installed, tires cut up rocks. 

This claim, I'm afraid, doesn't hold any sealant for me. Would Huck Norris make more sense than burlier rubber if I were a Super-Clydesdale riding terrain the Chupacabras are made for? Maybe.

Locally, I'll take the damping quality of my 29 x 3" Minion DHF 3c over the Chupacabra + Huck Norris combo any day. 

The Minion is, however, heavier than the Chupa/Huck Norris combo. If you are hard on tires and rims and light fast-rolling rubber makes sense where you ride, you should consider Huck Norris a solution to regular burping and flats. 

Huck Norris Insert NSMB AndrewM

With the Huck Norris system installed the Bontrager Chupacabras are very rideable tires in local conditions. I'd still take a set of 29 x 3" Minion DHF 3c tires if it was my choice. 

If it comes down to ride quality I'll still happily take a bit more sidewall support at a higher price. That said, I know lots of people trying to decide between 1.5-ply tires and massive rubber like Schwalbe's Super Gravity and Maxxis' Double Down and in those cases adding Huck Norris to the more supple but still aggressive casing is likely an awesome combo. 

Riding vs. Racing?

Huck Norris is light enough, and simple enough, that I can think of potential racing situations where the system could be in play. Privateer wheel killers trying to prevent flats, dented aluminum rims, or cracked carbon rims and flaming credit cards, could do well to chuck Huck in their back wheel on rocky courses. Of course, I also predicted the same for Procore so what do I know? 

For most racing situations, the extra weight is probably better applied to the sidewalls where it will also help resist tearing. When you are racing, even in Enduro or DH, rolling weight remains a consideration. 

When it comes to riding I think Huck Norris is positioned to excel exactly as the company advertises. Having to run overly aggressive, over damped rubber in locales where lightweight, supple, fast rolling tires excel, is no longer mandatory. Riders who are hard on wheels and rubber and who live where the trails are fast can choose tires like the Racing Ralph, Ikon or Chupacabra with XC wheels while preserving peace of mind. 

Trek Stache NSMB AndrewM

With Huck Norris installed my early test fears proved unfounded. I had a few crashes that I'll happily blame on running XC rubber but I've had zero flats of any kind running the Chupacabra tires (knock on wood). 

Ride Huck Norris?

Huck Norris really has 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. That's awesome. 

For my personal bikes I find that running aggressive tires like Specialized's Grid and Maxxis' EXO sidewall models is a perfect balance between support and traction. 

With that in mind, I can think of a number of situations where Huck Norris and a lightweight, fast-rolling tire would be a premium combination. For Enduro racing? At such a light weight I have to ask why not, at least in the rear wheel and especially for anyone hard on rims. Paranoid about carbon hoops? Rather ride than change flats? Planning to eat a few hundred grams of beef jerky after the ride? Anyone who thinks Huck Norris would work well for them is probably right. 

The price is €69/pair (it's been reduced from €79 - Ed.) and that includes a front fender and shipping. For more information check out the website -  Huck Norris


Comments

craw
0
Cr4w  - April 26, 2017, 8:56 a.m.

Interesting. What about running Huck Norris with EXO tires for just-less-than-DH-casing level protection?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:09 p.m.

Yes. Especially for maintaining the more supple feel vs. DD/ SG / DH casings.

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andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - April 26, 2017, 9:02 a.m.

Is the strip made from closed cell foam or open cell. I assumed it was closed cell so that the strip wouldn't simply soak up sealant and become a rubber strip. But the photos look like open cell.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:11 p.m.

It's open cell* but they sourced a material that sucks up the least amount of sealant possible. 

Less than 30grams+.

It's not nothing but it's not endless sealant.

*Edit: I assume it's open cell because it absorbs some sealant - and they state more can be absorbed overtime as it breaks down - but can't find it specifically stated.

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shoreboy
+1 Peter
Shoreboy  - April 26, 2017, 10:35 a.m.

Looks and sounds like it is open cell foam.  Does it just keep on soaking up the sealant until it is fully saturated?  I imagine that makes the initial weight of 85g change over time and get heavier?  Maybe Andrew can report back on how much sealant it soaks up?

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metacomet
+3 Ron Chang Sean Cameron Andrew Major
Metacomet  - April 26, 2017, 11:45 a.m.

It is closed cell.  It does not really soak it up like a sponge, but it is more surface area for the sealant to stick to.  The side profile looks open cell because it has been cut to shape from a sheet, rather than molded, so the cells on the edge are exposed.  The material is surprisingly rigid for the weight.  I like it. Running it in my 26+ hardtail, and just like Andrew's experience, it has finally allowed me to be able to run more normalized pressures in those + tires (WTB rangers with tough casing) without constant fear of smashing the rim and pinch flatting or breaking something.  

I think something else I have observed that is really important to point out, is that the weight of these inserts does not influence the feel of the bike the same way that a equivocally heavier casing would influence the feel of the bike.  Keeping a supple casing that conforms to the trail irregularities really helps preserve the tires rolling speed.  Stiff casings offer protection but roll lousy and can really feel a drag, supple casing with an insert still rolls fast and adds back a lot of that protection.  It adds Some weight, so that's not exactly going to help your pace uphill, but its really not nearly as dramatic as you might fear.  Carbon-lightness'itis has made everyone needlessly paranoid about adding a half a pound here or there.  Especially when it comes to their wheels. It was the fatbikes and plus bikes that really finally made me realize this.  The bike weights and tire/wheel weights defied commonly accepted logic for how fast they roll through a lot of terrain, especially in "pedaling your mountain bike" scenarios.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Metacomet
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:15 p.m.

I also noticed no difference in the rolling characteristics of the tires with / without Huck Norris. 

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:13 p.m.

I had to use maybe double my usual sealant and then no more absorbed. I've read a few accounts saying +30g at saturation and that makes sense to me. In hindsight I should have measured but it really wasn't a big concern. Especially versus the performance.

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zigak
0
ZigaK  - April 26, 2017, 10:53 a.m.

> The system weighs 85 grams a wheel, is really simple to install and looks like someone went to town on a drab pool noodle with a razor blade. It costs €79 a pair and it works. Yep, it really works.

That could be a ghetto version.

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Poz
0
Poz  - April 26, 2017, 12:31 p.m.

Looks a lot like pipe insulation. Could be worth a ghetto attempt as pipe insulation comes in various diameters and thicknesses.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:23 p.m.

They do claim 3x the damping of commercially available materials - I'd believe it having pounded enough stuff between it and the rims - but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be cool to try a ghetto version.

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Poz
0
Poz  - April 27, 2017, 6:46 a.m.

Personally, I don't think I'd other with ghetto. Cutting the stuff to the degree they cut it would be a mighty hassle and would likely be butchered. 

Maybe try ghetto as a demo prior to throwing down the cash for the real deal -- or just trust NSMB's review :)

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Kelownarider
0 Andrew Major Ron Chang
Kelownarider  - April 26, 2017, 10:59 a.m.

If they could put a waterproof wrapper over the foam then we could use less sealant and likely make it more durable. I like the idea, but I get more flats from sidewall cuts than anything else. Still less flats (and less wrecked tires) is awesome.

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pete@nsmb.com
+2 Metacomet Sean Cameron
Pete Roggeman  - April 26, 2017, 12:10 p.m.

On the site they claim it only soaks up 2% of sealant, so it's insignificant.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:18 p.m.

2% of what volume of sealant?

I definitely would say it soaked up a lot more than 2%. Certainly by no means a deal breaker though.

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rugbyred
0
Eric Van Sickle  - May 3, 2017, 9:36 a.m.

What do you think would happen if you wrapped it in cling wrap? It may end up leaking after a while but I'm curious to know if someone has tried it.

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seanKcam
+1 Metacomet
Sean Cameron  - April 26, 2017, 1:22 p.m.

These things work! Especially for aggressive hardtail riding with carbon rims. Finally don't have to tip-toe through rough sections. Full send!   And for those thinking it's the same as a pool noodle, camping pad, etc.... it's far from it! WAY higher density than any camping mat out there and closed cell so it doesn't act like a sponge.  Individual strips and DH specific are now available, and NRG just started distributing in Canada. Go demand from your local bike shop. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTWuU72Ag3V/?taken-by=nrg_enterprises

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Sean Cameron
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 1:38 p.m.

Rear wheel of a hardtail especially... Nice being able to choose air pressure based on traction and ride quality rather than just trying not to destroy rear wheels. 

I'm running a 2.6 Slaughter Grid that's a great mix of all the above but if I was still on the 2.3 I'd definitely be looking at a strip for the rear wheel of my bike.

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andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - April 26, 2017, 2:02 p.m.

In all my years riding tubeless I can't remember pinching a tire that then leaked. There was one time I pinch floated the rim. Cracked the rim bed and split the tape dead centre between the beads. You were there Drew. But I don't weigh much, maybe 145 on a fat day. I like this idea though. Probably all I would ever need.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - April 26, 2017, 2:13 p.m.

Yep! Well at ~185 I have a couple-o'-few pounds on you but I still think Huck Norris is probably all I would ever need. If not the extra weight, complexity or PIA install of other systems would probably still have me leaning towards HN.

If I'd been running the system over the last few years I'd still have two Enve rims (instead of my Enve | Flow combo), I would have saved at least one other wheel build (dents) and I'd have not snake bit my tire (not tube) in the first three minutes of my first ride in Moab. 

I do think the new +/- rubber (2.6") with real sidewalls is all I need but if I find I'm bottoming my rim at all with that setup (or having to over inflate) I'd not hesitate to split a HN kit with someone.

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david-max
0
David Max  - April 30, 2017, 11:35 p.m.

Out of all the systems that are hitting the marker right now I find myself most intrigued by Cush Core, which was  previewed a while back on NSMB. Its significantly heavier than Huck Norris, but a little lighter than Flat Tire Defender, and from an intuitive perspective their shape and approach just make sense to me, particularly if it provides the ride benefits that they claim! 

  • I'm currently running a 500g 32mm wide Light Bicycle Rim after cracking a lighter layup version of the same rim that was about 450g+/-
  • If their system works as claimed then I would think that i could go to a NOBL TR33, 385g 27mm internal, and still have the same support of a rim 5mm wider while having a lot less worries about damaging another carbon rim. 
  • If you take that weight savings off the weight of the insert (250g) you end up with +135g total wheel weight.
  • Previously I was running a Super Gravity Magic Marys at 1050g, but I've moved to e13 TRS tires this year (915g), and have been loving them so far...
  • When you factor that in the whole set up is weight neutral compared to what I was running last year, with the theoretical added benefits of improved reliability and handling. 

If it works as promised that would be an amazing, race worthy setup! Like I said, I'm definitely intrigued....

Any early feedback that you guys can share with us???

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metacomet
0
Metacomet  - May 3, 2017, 7:45 a.m.

@David Max

Speaking for myself, I have both and they are very different overall.  I'm using Huck Norris on my 26+ hardtail, and the Cush Core on my 27.5 FS.  I don't have a hugely extensive amount of time on both setups yet, but enough to begin tell what benefit they each provide and what they feel like from my own perspective. 

Huck Norris doesn't really change the way the tire/wheel feels overall.  You kind of just forget its in there and go happily along now that you can run a bit more normalized/ideal pressures if you previously found yourself over-inflating a bit in order to protect your tires and rims from pinch flats and unnecessary damage.   Kind of the beauty of HN is that its just that and really not much more.  Costs the least, weighs the least, doesn't really alter the way anything feels, offers just enough insurance and peace of mind.   You can still feel the tire bottom out here and there but it takes the edge of what would otherwise be a really hard strike, and consequently makes it a non-event up to a point.  Its just a relatively thin strip of very dense foam after all.  Not a miracle.  But I think they got it right for the right application.  You just need to manage your expectations of these things and try to be honest about the limits and the actual benefits. 

Cush Core is a lot more substantial and changes the way the tire feels on the ground by a noticeable amount.  I was very apprehensive when I took it all out of the box.  Like holy goodness these things are dense and bulky, and adding ~520g to my wheels had me seriously considering riding alone for a while until I determined if they were going to be a life draining succubus or any kind of actual benefit.  As it would go my first ride with the inserts was with a great group of close friends and fast riders.  I was very worried.  The worry quickly faded away and I forgot all about the weight and quickly began to realize the benefits.  The tires roll great.  The tires roll extremely quietly.  No noticeable rim strikes.  Great traction and precise tracking.  Without the insert, I was at 25-27F/30-32R as a low limit before I would inevitably pinch the rear trying to hold it open through a rough line or any particularly smash-like rock garden or less than perfect landing.  Comes down to my trail habits I guess.  I see a line like that and I can't help myself.  Cush Core offers a lot more protection than HN for those moments.  I'm currently running 20F/25R  now and much less concern than ever before.  Need to experiment with less just out of diligence, but I am quite happy with those pressures right now.  Getting plenty of support and protection and traction is better than ever.

Reply

metacomet
+1 Andrew Major
Metacomet  - May 3, 2017, 7:47 a.m.

Stretching the Cush Core insert over the rim is your first real indicator. The foam is smooth and nearly plastic like.  Very firm yet extremely light for how dense it is. Installing it was a chore on the first wheel because I went about it like you would if there wasn't an insert strangling its way into the rim bed. Once I took their instructions seriously the installation was easy as ever. You REALLY need to Push the bead down into the middle of the rim. Squeeze the whole tire and pull the insert up and push the bead down under the insert and into the center of the rim with your fingers and then a tire lever for the last inches. Once you work out the technique its painless, but without its not pretty. The sidewalls feel stabilized a lot more, and I cant imagine burping the tire with this thing really squeezing itself in there between the tire beads. It takes up a fair amount of volume in the tire, so it does essentially make the tire more 'progressive'. In normal terms I would translate that as the tire rolls through small bumps and chatter like it has nice low pressure, but corners and behaves like it has higher pressure. Tracks the ground through flat/off-camber chattery corners strewn with roots and rocks very well and very predictably. 

Which is better? Both.  Just depends on what you are trying to achieve.

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david-max
0
David Max  - May 3, 2017, 10:04 a.m.

@Metacomet

Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a detailed reply! It helped me answer a lot of the questions I've been wondering about with CushCore. Really, you've pretty much sold me on it! I'm in pretty good shape aerobically and based on your description I'll happily drag the extra weight around for the performance gains and imperviousness to flats that you described. If it works as promised I'll build my next wheel set up around a lighter rim and then we're really of to the races, so to speak.

Thanks again!

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metacomet
0
Metacomet  - May 3, 2017, 10:49 a.m.

No problem.  I wouldn't hesitate to try them out in your current wheels.  I think you will still come out ahead overall.   They're not going to make the tire impervious to flats, but its going to be a Lot harder to cause one due to a pinch.  My rims are WTB i29's for reference if that makes any difference. Tires are DHF 2.5 and DHRII 2.4, EXO WT blah blah blah.

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david-max
0
David Max  - May 3, 2017, 11 a.m.

You're right, impervious is too strong a word, but I'll still take much better protected! I'm running e13 TRS 2.4" tires that inflate to close to the same size as the Maxxis WTs on a 32mm internal rim so overall its a pretty similar setup...

By the way, when you need new tire check out the e13s I've been on Minions a good bit before and I'm really loving the e13s!

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nychris30
0
nychris30  - Dec. 10, 2017, 6:26 a.m.

Which size Huck Norris do you use for the SUNringlé Duroc 50 SL 28-hole rims (50mm)?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2017, 8:03 a.m.

What’s in a name right? The Duroc 50 rims are actually 46mm internal - I ran the Large inserts.

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