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Great article, AJ. Thought I'd add my experience since I've been thinking about this a lot and just got cushcore.
I'm on a beefed up Kona Process 134 (Topaz/Lyrik 150, Codes, Flow MK3s) and ~195 lbs geared up. I've been fine on EXOs with this bike even getting into some gnarly terrain, but probably have compensated with higher pressure in the rear (28.5/29), and usually still put some significant flat spots in my rim over a season.
This year I was planning on experimenting with a DD or huck norris or both in the rear to see about how the more supportive tire affected ride quality and for rim protection. But after listening to the cushcore Downtime podcast, decided to give it a go instead. The setup has been DHF 2.3 rear at 25 psi with CC and DHF 2.5 front at 24 (both EXO).
I've only had a handful of rides on it, but the benefits are real for sure. The lower pressure in the rear feels like tons more grip, but with no noticeable squirm, cornering support is awesome and the damping on big compressions and through rock gardens is very noticeable in a good way: way more smooth and supportive on compressions and smoother, more controlled in the rough. But the weight is also noticeable for sure. Mostly in accelerations, but also I imagine just more fatiguing overall over the course of a long ride. That said, I've already mostly stopped noticing it over the course of a few rides. A good riding buddy with basically the same setup put a Minion SS on the rear for his and really likes it and that's my next step. My theory is that the ~100 gram tire weight savings will mitigate the CC weight increase, and the lower rolling resistance will help as well. Plus, I think with the dramatic increase in grip at 25 psi vs. my old pressure, the SS's braking traction won't feel like as big of a departure from the DHF 2.3 as it would've otherwise. Sor we'll see.
Even with the tradeoffs, I think it will be really hard to go back and give up the ride quality benefits from CC. But, since I've never experimented with a DD/DH casing on the rear, I don't have that comparison, so I'm super curious what your findings are, AJ, as that has been a nagging question for me with this experiment.
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