Vittoria Air-Liner review

Tire insert delivers flat protection and much more

Gear Tires
Vittoria Air-Liner

The Vittoria Air-Liner foam is made of a “new-generation polymer” and the entire foam tube insert goes through in the “coring” process.

What is it

Billed as the ultimate accessory for mountain bike tires, the Vittoria Air-Liner tire insert is designed to help maximize grip, enhance trail feel, and eliminate tire punctures. Released at the Sea Otter Classic this past spring, the Vittoria Air-Liner is a foam tubular insert for tubeless tires that protects your rim, while also allowing you to run lower air pressure. Seems simple enough, but how does the Vittoria Air-Liner stand up to real-world abuse and home mechanic setups? Read on to find out.

  • Excellent ride quality at low pressure
  • More grip both climbing and descending
  • Allows for lower tire pressures
  • Absorbs high-frequence vibrations, increasing comfort
  • Allows for tires with lighter casing
  • Solid rim protection after many hits
  • Easy to install and setup
  • Prevents burping effect
  • Prevents bead breaking
  • Ability to be ridden flat
  • $85 per tire is steep ask for most
  • Rotational weight is worst kind of weight to add
  • Compatibility with ammonia-based sealants
  • Newcomers to tubeless may have a hard time installing
Mtbr’s Take

The Vittoria Air-Liner foam is made up of what Vittoria calls a “new-generation polymer,” and the entire insert goes through in the “coring” process. The coring does not alter the chemical structure of the polymer, but it does create a stronger longer lasting foam, resulting in longer ridable life, claims Vittoria. Indeed, Vittoria boasts that this durable polymer material has a projected life of 2000 hours under normal riding — or an hour of run-flat downhill use under a typical rider.

Vittoria Air-Liner

Mtbr installed the Vittoria Air-Liner inserts on Vittoria Peyote 29×2.25 tires and rode them with 5psi less than usual with no issues.

The Vittoria Air-Liner comes in four widths: 1.9-2.2 for XC, 2.25-2.5 for trail/enduro, 2.5-2.7 for all-mountain, and 2.7-4.0 for plus and fat. Each Vittoria Air-Liner at full length weighs 172 grams. When trimmed for 29×2.25 use in this test, that number fell to 165g.

Set up is reasonably easy, only requiring some measuring, cutting, and patience. You start by wrapping the Vittoria Air-Liner around your rim while holding the starting point in place. Then mark the point where the Vittoria Air-Liner overlaps and mark to cut. Next poke a small hole (about 4mm from the cut) on the center on each side of the foam. Then use the provided zip tie to bind the insert together. Finally, use the provided Vittoria tape to conceal the zip tie and cut foam section.

Vittoria Air-Liner

Though the bright color is not as vibrant over the life of the foam, the performance and structural integrity of the Vittoria Air-Liner stay intact.

Now the fun part. Install your tire with one bead on and insert the foam on the rim like an inner tube. (Don’t forget to install your valve stems before this). Next install the other side of the tire bead, add some tire sealant (we love Orange Seal) and inflate your tire.

For this test, we installed a set of Vittoria Air-Liner inserts inside Vittoria Peyote 2.25 tires, which is my go-to XC race tire. Then we rode them with 5 psi less than usual, which put me around 18 psi. The feeling of cushion, added grip, and cornering stability was immediate. And while I imagine this would be less noticeable on a full suspension bike, it was very apparent on my hardtail.

The insert’s round cross-section mimics the natural shape of the tire and supports a greater contact area within the sidewalls of the tire’s casing. That netted increased bead stability and improved cornering grip. And since the Vittoria Air-Liner insert replaces air volume in the tire, the tire compresses and rebounds in a more controlled manner compared to a standard tubeless systems.

Vittoria Air-Liner

Surprisingly the Vittoria Air-Liner inserts “hold air” with zero air in the tire, making it perfect for flat protection and a get home plan if need be.

Protection is the other significant feature of the Vittoria Air-Liner. After my initial run at my preferred pressure, I dropped down to the mid-teens. The sensation of riding with ~15 psi is much like riding a tubular in cyclocross, unfamiliar at first, but then you get used to it and the performance gains begin to magnify. And that comes with the confidence that even a hard hit won’t result in a damaged rim or worse. My go-to pressure ended up around 16 psi. And surprisingly the Vittoria Air-Liner will “hold air” with zero air in the tire, making it perfect for flat protection and a get home plan if need be.

After many miles and switching tires two times I can say the Vittoria Air-Liner lasts as long as claimed. Though the bright color may not be as vibrant over the life of the foam, the performance and structural integrity stay intact.

Bottom line, the Vittoria Air-Liner tire inserts are excellent for upping the performance of any wheelset and tire, especially for those that aren’t afraid to push things into the rowdy realm. Cornering and braking traction alone are worth the price of entry. And while $85 per wheel seems steep, they are not the most expensive foam insert on the market.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $85 per tire
More info:

About the author: Jordan Villella

Jordan comes from the steep streets of Pittsburgh PA, where he learned to dodge cars and rip single track. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the cycling industry: from turning wrenches, store design, clothing production and bike park creation. Jordan spends his free time racing cross country and cyclocross around North America, though he has been know to enduro every now and then. His love of cycling is only second to his love of his family and punk rock.

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  • Duane says:

    the cost must come down to the low volume of sells they expect and or just taking advantage of the idea people will spend way to much $ for the idea of it being far superior.

  • Jon Gotow says:

    If you’ve tried CushCore, how does installation compare? I’ve heard that the CushCore inserts make it really tough to get the second bead of the tire inserted – is it easier with Air-Liners?

    • Mark says:

      Cush Core was a ball buster for me so bad that I sold them. Had to cut one tire off to get them out. I watched the Cush Core guys install them for me they make it look kind of easy . But do you carry a garbage can with you when you flat on the trails so you can set the tire on it to break the bead . That was my fear if I ever had a flat out on the trail I was going to be walking back. Maybe it was just my rims and others don’t have this problem but I don’t miss them at all

    • Stephen says:

      I’ve had zero issues with tire installation/removal with CushCore installed. Takes a minute extra at most for me to swap tires.
      You just have to make sure to drop the opposite side of tire bead into the drop center of the wheel, which gives room to get last bit of tire bead over the wall of the rim.
      Have had zero flats in the last 80 miles of riding with CushCore.

  • Bob Ballsly says:

    I only carry a plug with CushCore. Anything larger than what a plug can fix and a tube isn’t going to help. You are best to just ride out on the CushCore. No need to carry a trashcan with you…

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