Cush Core – What is it and what do users think about it?

Cush Core makes big promises and Skills with Phil puts it to the test

Gear News Tires Wheels
Cush Core Cutaway View

Cush Core cutaway view showing the positioning of the insert tight against the rim leaving a tunable air pocket between the insert and the tire tread. Photo courtesy of Cush Core

Cush Core is a relatively new product designed to aid in the reduction of sidewall roll during hard cornering, increase traction, eliminate pinch flats, reduce vibration and eliminate rim strikes. It’s made of engineered low density but impact resistant foam and shaped to fit inside your tire against the rim. It stabilizes the casing while allowing the tread patch to remain flexible.

Rear Tire Casing

Phil’s rear tire casing stays solidly inline with the rim despite hard cornering and only 9psi! Without Cush Core this would usually lead to a burp, ripping the tire off the wheel or at the very least tons of sidewall roll and a decidedly ungroovy feeling as you exit the berm.

But does it work? Is the extra weight noticeable? Does it make the bike feel differently when out on the trail? All of these questions and more have been answered by Skills with Phil. As a well-known hardcore shredder and DH racer, his opinions hold weight with tens of thousands of YouTube viewers. It is important to note that Phil purchased these inserts with his own money at full price to test them out.

Rear Tire

Phil’s rear tire at 9psi smashing against a square-edge rock with Cush Core installed to prove a point. Would you do this with those wheels? Me neither.

It’s safe to say if Cush Core can protect his fancy carbon NOBL rims from really bad line choices and ludicrously low tire pressures it could work for you BUT watch the following videos and check the MTBR forums for member’s opinions before you break out your credit card. You may also want to download a guided meditation app to help control your anger and center your chi before you pry that tire lever out of the drywall and try yet again to seat that tire bead…

Table Clamp

Phil full on broke out a table clamp to help him mount the tire with the Cush Core installed. You know frustration has set in when you break out tools used in The Woodwright’s Shop!

The consensus is this is a solid product and once you learn the tricks to assist with installation the only drawbacks are the extra weight and for some, the price tag. But for many of us it’s hard to put a price tag on confidence in your gear. And come race day Cush Core can mean the difference between a stage completion with points or a DNF (did not finish) with a flat or broken rim.

Skill’s with Phil “This is Why I Love Cush Core.”

My Cush Core Install Experience; can’t be that hard right? WRONG!!

A few handy tricks of the install are:

  • protect your hands and use gloves
  • have a spray bottle of slippery detergent solution handy
  • use a tire stand to get the ideal position and leverage
  • use a very sturdy plastic tire lever
  • always center the tire into the deepest part of the rim
  • use rim tape that is not very too thick

Cush Core’s installation instructions.

Not cheap at $149/pair, installation can be a bear for the tubeless non-initiated or with certain tire and wheel tight fit combinations. But like all things, the first time is hard and subsequent installs are easier as one picks up tricks and experience. And it should outlast your tire or next several pairs of tires.

Do they work for you? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussions on the forums.

Cool Background info on who and what Cush Core is by Fanatik Bike.

For more information, visit

About the author: Justin Wages

As a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, Justin Wages got into the cycling world in an effort to increase his endurance after losing his left lung. As a California native and growing up with a skateboard and snowboard beneath his feet it wasn’t long before the thrill of mountain biking gripped him. Justin’s day job as a Land & Recreation Manager helps him understand the balance between conservation and trail use. He also works with his fiancé, Jeni, to bring more women into the mountain bike world with certified skills clinics and education. “My goal is to get more people on trails for health and enjoyment,” he says. “I want to help them overcome their mental or physical limitations and be the best person they can be, while expanding their appreciation for our natural world.”

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  • Justin says:

    How do they justify $160/pair? It’s foam. Hopefully a competitor will come out and undercut this nonsense.

    • MTB4me says:

      And hopefully you are pleased with your 1997 Huffy that you found “undercutting” the “nonsense” bike you should have paid for….What nonsense it right!

    • Phil Kmetz says:

      Justin, Economies of scales. Let’s say a mould for this product costs $100,000 (100% wild guess). If 100,000 people were to buy it, the cost of the mould across all the customers and would come down to $1 each (assuming they buy one single CushCore). 100,000 customers is most likely unrealistic, CushCore a very niche product for a specific group of riders willing. A more realistic estimation is that ~5,000 people will buy this product. That would bring the cost up to 20 dollars per person. This doesn’t factor in extra valves, raw material costs, office space, operating expenses, labor, R&D, distribution, marketing, and profit margin. Hopefully that helps clarify why a “piece of foam” can be so expensive.

    • Rubbrband says:

      I think they have an exclusive patent to reward them for bringing an innovative product to market. They have a ton of money sunk into r&d they need to recoup and they need to be well compensated because innovative concepts often fail. Even if the manufacturing cost is less than 10% it pails in comparison to the development costs initially.

  • Steve says:

    How long did it take to install the cushcore in real time not including adding Stan’s and airing up ?

    • Phil Kmetz says:

      Steve, the first time it took nearly 40 minutes because it was a new procedure. Now it takes me 10-15 minutes, it’s bit more involved than a standard tubeless tire install.

  • Kenny Roberts says:

    MSRP is actually $149 before tax.

  • Joe says:

    I agree, they are expensive — this is a small company and it seems they are attempting to recover their development costs.
    Same questions apply: How does Apple justify $1000 for a phone? How does Cromag justify $4400 for a Steel Hardtail? It is dictated by what the market will allow. Is it worth $160 to protect your $2000 carbon wheelset? Some people might think so.

  • EyeKickBooty says:

    Here is a concept: run this stuff called air in your tires instead of $150 worth of pipe insulation.

  • Josh Robinson says:

    After seeing this I’m tempted to cut a pool noodle in half and put it in my tires to see if I can save $160.

  • Troy says:

    FFS, people, keep your mouth shut (including me now). No one cares about your opinion unless you’ve used them. STFU already, whiny cheap skates.

  • Bill says:

    I have been running Cush Core for about one year. It definitely does mellow out the harsh hits your wheelset would normally be taking. You get a nice soft thud instead of a high pitched smack. I agree that these will definitely help people from ruining rims (both carbon and aluminum) and will save you money on cut tires. Im definitely not having as many sliced tires as before.
    The big thing everyone is talking about…. price. And weight to a lesser degree.
    yes, seemingly expensive for what it is. I do believe they will save the aggressive rider $160 in equipment, but should that be the determiner of price? Im sure there are up-front design and production expenses that are being recouped. I wonder if when those expenses are recovered we might see a more reasonable price for the average consumer.
    I am disappointed they added 1lb to the rotating weight of my bike at the very outer edge of the rotation. I can absolutely feel it. It now makes me want to build a lighter weight all mountain bike for the real “pedaly” days.
    Obviously the trade off is price and weight for more ease of mind and less money in repairs. If you ride aggressive and shuttle more than you pedal, Id say you’ll find this a very good addition to your bike.

  • Brian says:

    I do like it as it helps with cornering, smooths out harder hits, and protects the rim well but I just wish it were like 30 or so grams lighter per insert. Going from Schwalbe ProCore to CushCore, I could really notice the weight difference which makes the bike less playful. Surely they can find away to chisel away some extra weight? Make it a bit lighter and it’ll be perfect!

  • Dave says:

    So how hard would it be to put a tube in it if heaven forbid you slash a sidewall and you can’t patch it. And also how much pack space would you need to carry the foam back to the car?

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