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I took a quick look at the e-MTB inserts when I was on the CushCore site this summer ordering some of the Trail inserts to try and wondered whether NSMB would run a classic dual-review comparing the fluted, "progressive cornering support" design of the e-MTB vs. Trail. If I had to predict, I would have guessed something like Cam on the EXe for the e-MTB inserts and Deniz on the Rallon for the Trail!
The mention of the e-MTB being an improvement on the Pro insert, rather than a totally different design for a different application, reminded me of something Tani said on the Path Podcast – that SoCal riders who previously rejected heavier setup options (inserts, coil forks, Fasst Flex bars, to name a few) needed only to try them on an e-machine in order to understand the tech in context (that is, without the downsides of winching it up the hill). Cushcore's advertising kind of reverses that paradigm, by proposing the improved inserts for e-powered bikes in the first place.
Re. future SKU-slimming in CC's lineup:
_> "XC is most obviously on the chopping block. You'll either choose not to run a CushCore at all or suffer the extra few grams a wheel to get the actual performance benefits and proper rim protection of the CushCore Trail setup. ..."_
> "I've been jumping back and forth between running Plus and Pro inserts with my 2.8" tire and i39/i40mm rim setups and I like the somewhat less damped ride of the Pro. "_
I would hate to see XC CushCore fall out of production, although I admittedly may be in the minority on that, judging from the boxes of XC liners sitting on the top shelf at my LBS for seasons on end, while Pro inserts sell through every month or two. Not many folks I know who are still racing marathon XC with any seriousness are running liners on their race bikes (and if they are, it's the super-light Vittoria option, or the Rimpact rim strip that barely has any damping benefit). I was initially inspired to try CushCore XC after seeing how well folks like Kabush were doing on technical tracks with low-knob tires and low pressures, and I for sure feel that benefit – I'd happily take a 120g lighter tire and an insert, vs. the heavier tire and no insert. Granted, in the eastern U.S. the lack of sharp things makes lighter casing Super Ground / EXO / Light / Grid tires much more of an option.
Even on a non-racey, trail / down-country / pedal-all-day-but-shred-a-bunch-of-steeps type of bike, though, I can't see going to CC Trail. It's not about suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous grams added, it's just that the Trail insert takes up too much space in a smaller volume 2.35"/2.4" tire to give good casing feel. Just as you say about the choice of Pro over Plus inserts for a 2.8" tire, the XC insert makes for a livelier feel vs. the bigger Trail. And when it gets proper wet and slimy and slow-speed around here, I was bottoming onto the insert almost constantly when running the types of super-low (~17-18psi) type pressures that I'm preferring most of the time for slow, off-camber, mossy-licheny, tight, low-speed, sloooow northern New England singletrack.
All to say not to overlook the CushCore XC insert – if you're content with a ≤ 2.4" tire on a ≤ 30mm rim and don't want a super-damp feel, it's a fabulous option.
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