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REVIEW | EDITORIAL

Schwalbe ProCore Revisted

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Aug 27, 2019

ProCore Round 4

I haven't ridden or worked on every insert system, but between Huck Norris, CushCore, and Schwalbe's ProCore I think I can speak broadly about the major theories on rim protection and ride tuning add-ons.

ProCore has a solid combination of ease of install, function, and tune-ability. Being inflatable, ProCore is no more difficult to install than the lightweight foam systems like Huck Norris and it actively forces my tire bead against the sides of my rim. It is also tuneable for support and feel. Another advantage of Schwalbe's system, is that the wear component, the inner tube, is relatively cheap to replace. All the other systems I've seen in action break down through usage* and will require replacement at some point if ridden hard.

*YMMV depending on how often the inserts are being impacted.

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I first wrote about Syntace and Schwable's ProCore colab in 2016. My experience was generally positive.

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The kit includes everything required for install - right down to tire levers, sealant, and tire bead lube.

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The air bypass system does not work as advertised and the dual position valve can be a PIA. The system is certainly not perfect.

One place that ProCore (and I'll throw every other tire system making the same claims down the same set of stairs) fails is the idea that the system weight is partially negated by the ability to run a lighter tire. In my experience if you need a tough sidewall without an insert you are going to need that same sidewall with an insert. That goes for any application where an insert may be helpful.

The Hammerschmidt Factor

After a pause, I once again started running ProCore in my front tire months ago. I'm sporting the double wall protection of the very impressive WTB Vigilante 29x2.8 in a the High Traction/Touch Casing version. The combo weighs more than enough but the combined performance is excellent. In the exact vein as my Hammerschmidt experience, I can't help but wonder how Schwalbe's system would have evolved if more people had jumped on-board. Lighter? Simpler? Tougher? Cheaper?

Certainly the dual-position valve could be improved, not to mention that for a few more grams* the overall durability of the system (tube) could be much better.

*the combo of an aggressive tire and insert already disqualifies weight weenies

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The concept of ProCore is, sadly, better than the reality. That isn't to say that the system doesn't work entirely as advertised.

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I just can't help but wonder if the brain-trust at Schwalbe couldn't have improved greatly on the original if there had been more buy-in.

Despite the more involved install and similarly high price, CushCore is obviously eating ProCore's init had initial market share. Cushcore is expanding into XC and Plus sized versions and selling units on the same promise as ProCore; it isn't just about rim protection, it's about improving ride quality. It's really too bad Schwalbe isn't continuing to improve ProCore, because competition improves the breed and I think that's especially true if you have a couple of completely different concepts, like ProCore and CushCore, chasing the same goal.

Plus Size Me

Riding aggressively with Plus sized tires up front is what brought me back to the Schwalbe ProCore system. Specifically, I was looking for something to lock the tire beads in place in a way that Huck Norris, which I revisited this year as well, does not. There is also something about a supple high-volume tire that works better with added progression and a bit of bottom out resistance. It's a bit like a Formula Neopos for my tires.

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ProCore WAS the best insert system that works with wide rims and Plus-sized rubber. Could the new CushCore change that calculation‽

Riding is better, for me, with an insert. Huck Norris gave it the college try but this revisit of ProCore has demonstrated how rudimentary the floating pool-noodle system is, not to mention that ProCore is significantly quieter.

And now CushCore has a new 29+ insert. It's harder to install than ProCore but with none of the setup challenges and no routine maintenance. Just ride the system until it is worn out, or your tire is worn out, and replace. None of the tune ability but none of the routine maintenance in a system that is growing into more market segments instead of disappearing.

ProCore isn't popping up many places these days or getting press anymore which is a huge change from its trumpeted release. But, if you're thinking it's time to try an insert and can get a deal on your wheel size I think you'll be very impressed with the performance. I can't overstate how keen I am to see Schwalbe release a next generation system.

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Comments

LesterChester
+1 Andrew Major
LesterChester  - Aug. 27, 2019, 6:14 a.m.

Just double-check your warranty. From eThirteen FAQ:

We do not recommend the use of Procore with any of our rims. Procore pressures often exceed the maximum recommend tire pressures for our rims and put stress on the rims in ways they were not designed for. As such using Procore will void your warranty.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:12 a.m.

Good find; thanks! So few people running ProCore anymore I’m surprised they mention it by name. 

I guess in a contact situation other inserts dampen impacts more that ProCore so the forces transferred to the rim would be less with say a hard bottom out strike on a CushCore system?

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Dude@
+1 Andrew Major
Dude@  - Aug. 27, 2019, 6:54 a.m.

I really like pro core but you shouldn’t use it with carbon rims and I believe this is why it fell out of popularity.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:08 a.m.

It depends on the carbon rims; up front, I think the takeaway wisdom is to check with any carbon rim manufacturer before installing an insert (or before buying if you plan to run an insert). 

I know some manufacturers blame inserts for rim failures but the only carbon rims I’ve run ProCore in are from Reynolds and they had zero concerns when I talked to one of their engineers about it.

I know plenty of riders who’ve specifically bought carbon rims + inserts (CushCore) to get the ride quality and protection but try and trim some grams. If carbon rim manufacturers weren’t designing layups and shapes with inserts in mind when ProCore was first released, I have to think they are now.

Certainly I haven’t heard of any company voiding a rider’s warranty due to the presence of an insert. 

*edit - just a note to check out Lester’s comment re. e13. Published around the same time as my reply.

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Dude@
+1 Andrew Major
Dude@  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:18 a.m.

Thanks I have generally asked and majority have said no. Again I think this has been death of pro core. If people are running them on carbon fiber rims they are being more discrete to not avoid warranty issues associated with their social media.

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:34 a.m.

Just to confirm, you’ve specifically about ProCore or rim manufacturers have been saying no to inserts in general?

Certainly Syntace/Schwalbe only originally tested the system to work with aluminum hoops.

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Dude@
+1 IslandLife
Dude@  - Aug. 27, 2019, 8:40 a.m.

Sorry - only asked with respect to carbon fiber rims, as it is should be okay with aluminum. They said the carbon fiber layup is not designed to provide the structural support in that direction (inner ward to outward) owing to the high pressure of the pro core inner tube.

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nouseforaname
+2 DMVancouver IslandLife
Nouseforaname  - Aug. 27, 2019, 8:54 a.m.

Trek say no to inserts in carbon wheels FWIW. Of any kind. They don't even want to hear that you've used HN.

Maybe an article in this?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 9:07 p.m.

Interesting. I thought their DH Team - and possibly all Gravity squads - run CushCore in their wheels? I'll try and chase that up.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 9:22 p.m.

The TFR Enduro team is actually sponsored by CushCore and they're definitely running Bontrager wheels.

I can't tell from their race photos if they're running aluminum or carbon rims or some combo of both but here's what Trek says:

"Slash 9.9 is the fastest enduro mountain bike in the lineup, so it’s no surprise it’s the go-to ride for the pros of Trek Factory Racing Enduro. Carbon where it counts, FOX Factory fork, Trek’s exclusive RE:aktiv with Thru Shaft shock, fast-rolling carbon 29er wheels, and a SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain make this top-of-the-line ride the undisputed king of enduro."(link)

Remoh02
0
Remoh02  - Aug. 29, 2019, 11:37 a.m.

Pressures notwithstanding, the procore valves are too short for lots of the deep carbon rims like the Nobl TR38 (old model). I ran it on alu rims, enjoyed the ride but it was a PITA for tire changing frequently compared to cushcore now.

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T-mack
+1 IslandLife
T-mack  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:46 a.m.

Procore is a heavier system for sure but I wonder how one of those 80g Tubolito tubes would work with it? Knock off 100g per wheel I would think?

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AndrewMajor
+1 IslandLife
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:49 a.m.

In its current form no, because ProCore requires the two stage valve to fill the tube and tire.

I have often considered drilling a second hole in my rim and running a basic tube and a separate tubeless valve. Then the Tubolito would be a win.

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cxfahrer
0
cxfahrer  - Aug. 28, 2019, 10:52 p.m.

I did run Procore with a normal tube after drilling a hole in the rim. What I did not like with Procore was the inner tube loosing air and you had to check it regularly with a pressure gauge to find that out. After all it did not prevent snakebites like I hoped it would, or you have to pump it up to 6-8bar.

When I ran Procore in a 3.0 on a 45mm rim, it did not work because the inner blue tire was not big enough.

With up to 8bar possible Procore puts a lot of stress on the rim. You can hear the spokes relaxing! That is the reason it voids warranty.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 7:53 a.m.

I’m quite intrigued by Cam’s Tannus + Tubolito plan. I’d gladly ditch tubeless for tubes if I could more durability and also get the ride advantages of tubeless at the same time.

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shoreboy
+1 Andrew Major
Shoreboy  - Aug. 27, 2019, 8:40 a.m.

I just installed ProCore in the front of my 27.5 MagicMary (2.35) on Stans Flow MK3.  Install was pretty straight forward, and everything seems solid.  As a reference, im coming from using tubes and figured Id try the ProCore when I got a deal on a new set for $40.  No rides yet, but starting off with 80psi in the ProCore tube, and 20psi in the tire.  Looking forward to see how it goes.  Before and after weights were about 100g more for the ProCore setup over traditional tube.  If it goes well, Ill convert the rear tire/tube in the future.

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Xorrox
+1 Andrew Major
Brad_xyz  - Aug. 27, 2019, 10:18 a.m.

I've been running ProCore for almost 3 years now and could probably write a 100 page report on my experiences, opinions and things that could be improved but I'll try to keep this brief ;)

1) I have been running these in my carbon Light bicycle rims at 95 psi inner, 30-36 psi outer (rear), 85 psi inner, 21 psi outer (front) with no issue (also in my other aluminum DT EX471 wheelset). The only issue I have is that I have to tighten the spokes after airing up the inner tire/tube. However, the other issue many other carbon rims have is that the special ProCore valve stem is too short to extend far enough out of the rim for you to get the nut on. You cannot use stem extenders with ProCore.

2) Unlike Andrew, I have been able to get away with using light sidewalls with ProCore (Maxxis EXO, Schwalbe Snakeskin) without issues in PNW riding even including some park riding. Obviously areas with lots of sharp rock would change this equation, but if you are pinch flatting or snake biting with ProCore, my experience is you either need to increase your inner ProCore pressure or you are running a rim that is too wide for the current ProCore arrangement (see next point).

3) The current (only) ProCore option works best for me with rims in the 23 to 27 mm inner width and tires that are around 2.35". Once you get into wider rims, the ProCore inner tire/tube combo starts to become too low profile to provide optimal protection against snake bite / pinch flats. Also the outer air chamber becomes much larger which increases tire drag with large volume tires (especially on the rear) meaning you need to increase your outer chamber psi to compensate which sort of defeats the purpose.

For the reasons above, I wish they would increase the ProCore valve stem length a little and offer at least one larger volume / size option for rims with an inner width of 30 mm and wider. Otherwise I love my ProCore setup as it allows me to crash and bash down rocky trails with near impunity while previously I was snake biting my sidewalls way too regularly. I'm a heavy guy (220+ lbs riding weight) and the fact that I can control the pinch flat resistance (versus Cush Core where there is only one "cush" level available no matter what rider weight or preference is) is a big bonus.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 5:58 p.m.

I've popped enough ProCore tubes (including this weekend apparently - figured it out this AM on my commute) that in my mind the gen-2 would find a way to beef up the tube or possibly combine the inner and out into one unit one wall instead of two but that wall would be much thicker. 

That said, the current system is really just a trainer-tire with a hole in it and an inner tube with a fancy valve, so the investment involved in improving the system would probably vastly exceed the initial product (minus marketing costs). 

I've had good results with ProCore with wider rims/tires in SOME situations - namely when the rim has a relatively short sidewall. Certainly, with my i39 Velocity rims a number of dents have been prevented by running ProCore.

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Xorrox
0
Brad_xyz  - Aug. 27, 2019, 6:21 p.m.

That totally makes sense Andrew. I hadn’t thought that much about that different rims would have noticeably different side heights.  I’m sure you’ve tried way more  combinations of rim and tire than I have.  Rim side height would certainly factor into the width / height / pressure / degree of  protection equation for the single size ProCore inner tube/ tire carcass combo.

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LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Aug. 27, 2019, 11:14 a.m.

I've used Cushcore and Procore.  They are good when they are working but a major pain when not especially when something happens out in the trail.  I just ended up with burlier tires and it worked out better overall.  I hate dealing with tire issues.  

I just got some rimpactmtb to try out to help protect the rim for the oh sh$t moments.  Cheap, easy to install and good reviews.  First ride will be Thursday.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 27, 2019, 6:01 p.m.

Would be interested to know how long the Rimpactmtb lasts for you!

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Brumos73
+1 mike
Brumos73  - Aug. 27, 2019, 11:57 a.m.

All these tire inserts just seem like a major hassle. Unless you're an EWS racer with a dedicated mechanic, running tubeless is way easier. Just learn to ride a bike properly without smashing into sh*t.

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Xorrox
+1 Andrew Major
Brad_xyz  - Aug. 27, 2019, 12:17 p.m.

But smashing into sh*t is way more than half the fun ;)

I think a lot of it does come down to riding style, terrain, aggression and last but certainly not least, rider weight.  I lost count of how many times I pinch flatted (tubeless) while going full speed down Ned's on Seymour before I went ProCore.  I even destroyed a carbon rim with a side wall impact.  Since then (almost 3 years on) I now get maybe one impact related flat per year.  Interestingly enough, I have actually pinch flatted the inner ProCore tube and been able to ride it out because my tire still held air.  I only noticed the next day when I checked the pressure and both inner and outer chambers had the same pressure.

Inserts are a major PITA though.  If someone ever comes up with a tire or even tire and tube combination that allows good compliance and traction under all conditions and still provides pinch flat / snake bite protection (that does not weigh a ton), I'll be lining up with everyone else to buy these.

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velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Aug. 28, 2019, 6:50 p.m.

Just clicked buy on a set of these this morning. Down from ~$450 nzd to $75... Guess 26 really is dead.

Looking forward to nerding out, I'm coming from tubes.

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velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Aug. 30, 2019, 9:34 p.m.

Huh. In stock on the website, but not in the warehouse.

Guess I won't be trying these after all.

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ackshunW
0
ackshunW  - Aug. 31, 2019, 7:23 a.m.

One this article was posted, I looked up Procore in 26” too —— saw them for $75 everywhere from Target.com to Amazon. They may exist somewhere? Good luck!

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DemonMike
0
mike  - Aug. 30, 2019, 7:22 p.m.

I have considered inserts for the what if happens. But never pulled the trigger. I guess I don,t ride hard enough , I run tubeless with higher pressure hi 20,s to low 30,s for psi. Have tried running lower pressure , but don,t like the wiggle feel. And I don,t like bashing the crap out of my wheels just cause. As for the pros running them . Ahh hell ya it,s their job to perform to their fullest. Flatting out every stage or race is not a way to keep sponsors. I don,t see a EWS rider pulling a Gwin .

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