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  1. #1
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    Phil's New CushCore Review

    Probably going to run some of these this summer for Tahoe, Rockville, etc. Thoughts?


  2. #2
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    Hopefully your 50 cent legs can handle the extra weight.

    They are pretty awesome. If i was prone to damaging rims and tires I would definitely run 1 in the rear. I bet the extra dampening is awesome as well!

    These don't soak up sealant like Huck Norris right?

  3. #3
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    Nice review and honest. Those trails look fantastic by the way...
    On MTBR, the reputation is infamous.

  4. #4
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    I ran one on my hardtail for 4 months of hard riding ( lots of DH). You can run less pressure. I could get down to around 18psi as long as I wasn't going too fast on chunky terrain. Ran around 25 on DH runs. As far as extra dampening, probably only the type of people who say they can tell a difference in boost, would say they notice. The tire has to be almost to the rim before you even hit the cush core. I would say the dampening is mostly a sales pitch. Where they are great though is in side wall stiffness, protecting rims, and for running less pressure. They really shine when trails get high speed and chunky. So a place like Northstar locally. A place like Rockville probably not so much. I felt my dh/am hardtail was a perfect application to actually test because of the feedback from not having rear suspension.

    Cons:. Putting on tires is tough. But not impossible. Taking them off on the other hand was almost impossible once the sealant around the bead makes a bond. You might be out on the trail for over an hour trying to put a tube in if you had to. Not to mention it makes changing tires for conditions a pain and something you'll dread doing. As a result your will be more likely to run a tire not appropriate for the condition.

    Your bike will lose its snap and will accelerate much slower. It is very noticable. This means that you are going to constantly be working harder. And limits it's benefits to mainly just dh riding or enduro racing for some flat protection.

    Unless you have a dh bike or an extra set of wheels i'd pass. A good dh tire will give you many of the same benifits. And the cush core still won't keep you from slicing a tire.

    That said, if anyone wants to try one. I have mine that I have taken out and am willing to sale. 29er version that I ran with ibis 941 and a minion dhr and also with a minion ss.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by prozach0215 View Post
    I ran one on my hardtail for 4 months of hard riding ( lots of DH). You can run less pressure. I could get down to around 18psi as long as I wasn't going too fast on chunky terrain. Ran around 25 on DH runs. As far as extra dampening, probably only the type of people who say they can tell a difference in boost, would say they notice. The tire has to be almost to the rim before you even hit the cush core. I would say the dampening is mostly a sales pitch. Where they are great though is in side wall stiffness, protecting rims, and for running less pressure. They really shine when trails get high speed and chunky. So a place like Northstar locally. A place like Rockville probably not so much. I felt my dh/am hardtail was a perfect application to actually test because of the feedback from not having rear suspension.

    Cons:. Putting on tires is tough. But not impossible. Taking them off on the other hand was almost impossible once the sealant around the bead makes a bond. You might be out on the trail for over an hour trying to put a tube in if you had to. Not to mention it makes changing tires for conditions a pain and something you'll dread doing. As a result your will be more likely to run a tire not appropriate for the condition.

    Your bike will lose its snap and will accelerate much slower. It is very noticable. This means that you are going to constantly be working harder. And limits it's benefits to mainly just dh riding or enduro racing for some flat protection.

    Unless you have a dh bike or an extra set of wheels i'd pass. A good dh tire will give you many of the same benifits. And the cush core still won't keep you from slicing a tire.

    That said, if anyone wants to try one. I have mine that I have taken out and am willing to sale. 29er version that I ran with ibis 941 and a minion dhr and also with a minion ss.
    Thanks for that!

    I assumed one would feel the extra dampening if only due to weight but I guess I'm wrong. I can feel quite a bit of difference between tire models and compounds so I though this would feel more similar to a tougher casing tire with softer compound.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCWages View Post
    Hopefully your 50 cent legs can handle the extra weight.

    They are pretty awesome. If i was prone to damaging rims and tires I would definitely run 1 in the rear. I bet the extra dampening is awesome as well!

    These don't soak up sealant like Huck Norris right?
    Maybe I will just spray some of this down the valve stem!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCWages View Post
    Thanks for that!

    I assumed one would feel the extra dampening if only due to weight but I guess I'm wrong. I can feel quite a bit of difference between tire models and compounds so I though this would feel more similar to a tougher casing tire with softer compound.
    I mean you can run less tire pressure which will give the tire more give over bumps. But by the time the tire is collapsed to the cush core and actually compresses it there isn't much material anymore. I had a couple small snake bites in my cush core, so it did its job. It has it's place, I'm just not sure it's on an everyday bike and wouldn't want to be constantly be taking it on and off. With a good tough casing tire you get almost the same affect without near the penalty. I know they say to run light casing tires, but man, riding the kinda trails cush cores are made for on a light casing tire, seems like a tire slice waiting to happen me.

    The peace of mind on fast chunk is awesome though. There just aren't that many trails like that around here.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by prozach0215 View Post
    I mean you can run less tire pressure which will give the tire more give over bumps. But by the time the tire is collapsed to the cush core and actually compresses it there isn't much material anymore. I had a couple small snake bites in my cush core, so it did its job. It has it's place, I'm just not sure it's on an everyday bike and wouldn't want to be constantly be taking it on and off. With a good tough casing tire you get almost the same affect without near the penalty. I know they say to run light casing tires, but man, riding the kinda trails cush cores are made for on a light casing tire, seems like a tire slice waiting to happen me.

    The peace of mind on fast chunk is awesome though. There just aren't that many trails like that around here.
    So basically stick with Tough casings FTW?

  9. #9
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    I change my tires too often to want to bother with them.

  10. #10
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    A solution for all your problems with tubeless tires which was a solution for all your problems with inner tubes!

  11. #11
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    Definitely looks good for a rear tire as the rear tire takes the brunt of the abuse. It is just the weight added to rotating mass that is not so desirable. I am still waiting for some genius to invent an airless tire insert. I've seen some for recreational bikes and road bikes but not for mtb yet.

  12. #12
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    I think different people are sensitive to different aspects of the ride. Personally, I dislike trail chatter, I absolutely hate flats, and I'm not very sensitive to added weight, so I'm loving the cushcores.

    Whether or not cushcores provide damping I guess depends on how you define your terms. I think they quite clearly give a softer ride. If you take 2 tires inflated to the same psi, 1 with cushcore and 1 without, the tire with the CC will deform over bumps more, and less of those bumps will be transmitted to your body. This is Laplace's law; because the insert takes up volume (and therefore reduces cross-sectional area), even at the same psi, the wall tension will be less for the tire with the insert. The effect is amplified if you run lower pressures than you normally would. If you consider that softer ride being attributable to cushcore I suppose is up for interpretation. But to me, the distinction is irrelevant because I like the ride feel of the softer tire, and the CC allows me to run that softer tire without worrying about rim damage (or burping or tire squirm). I found the recommendation to decrease pressure by 5 psi to be too much, and settled on a decrease of 2 psi.

    I'll also add that CC should make your tire more resistance to both pinch flats and puncture flats. Again, this is due to the decreased wall tension. Imagine trying to pop a ballon with a pencil. If the balloon is overinflated with a tense wall, it will be much easier to puncture than if the ballon is softer and the surface deforms when poked by something sharp.

    But yeah, the cost is quite high, and the installation is a total PITA. I will run my current tires into the ground before I change them, just because I don't want to have to deal with changing the tires. If you like to swap tires around a lot, I would definitely pass on the cushcore.

    As far as the weight penalty, I can't say that I've really noticed it, but I rarely notice weight changes unless it's huge. I've never run DH tires, but seems like they also add a substantial amount of weight. For example, a Minion DHF is about 200 g heavier for the DD casing compared to the EXO, which is more than a cushcore insert.

  13. #13
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    I've always wondered, why not just make some mountain bike tubes thicker? Like 1/4" thick. Would eliminate almost all flats and would provide some of the benefits of CushCore without the mess of tubeless. Would seem ideal for downhill/enduro.

  14. #14
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    For me, a well damped tire means less bouncing around in the gnar and a more planted feel than a less damped tire at the same pressure. Soft compound tires with thicker casings are generally very well damped and most often used in DH applications whereas a hard compound tire with very light sidewalls tend to be used in XC applications. For me the trick is finding that happy medium where I get the damped feel I want without too much rolling resistance.

    Damped vs. undamped oorrrrr Magic Mary Ultra Soft DH vs. Racing Ralph Speed LiteSkin on the back wheel. lol


  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I've always wondered, why not just make some mountain bike tubes thicker? Like 1/4" thick. Would eliminate almost all flats and would provide some of the benefits of CushCore without the mess of tubeless. Would seem ideal for downhill/enduro.
    the Moto world has some products where the tire is filled with a bunch of inflated balls. Like cush core though. It's not their function, but the complete PITA it is to change a tire that keeps most people from using them. I actually liked the cush core fine. But I also spent a few rides this winter on a shit tire that made for not as enjoyable experience, simply because I didn't have time to waste trying to get the old tire off. I actually thought installing them wasnt bad though. And I'm sure with some rim / tire combos it might not even be that bad getting them off.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by prozach0215 View Post
    the Moto world has some products where the tire is filled with a bunch of inflated balls. Like cush core though. It's not their function, but the complete PITA it is to change a tire that keeps most people from using them. I actually liked the cush core fine. But I also spent a few rides this winter on a shit tire that made for not as enjoyable experience, simply because I didn't have time to waste trying to get the old tire off. I actually thought installing them wasnt bad though. And I'm sure with some rim / tire combos it might not even be that bad getting them off.
    I would think that with CushCore you wouldn't be able to run on a flat as there wouldn't be enough pressure to keep the tire seated on the rim. So you would have to repair a flat on the trail with CushCore in place, which would probably be a big PITA. Thick tubes would solve this issue for the most part: low chance of flat and easy to replace/repair on trail. Just a nutty idea, I'm sure there are a million reasons why this is a dumb idea! But, I remember when suspension was a dumb idea!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I would think that with CushCore you wouldn't be able to run on a flat as there wouldn't be enough pressure to keep the tire seated on the rim. So you would have to repair a flat on the trail with CushCore in place, which would probably be a big PITA. Thick tubes would solve this issue for the most part: low chance of flat and easy to replace/repair on trail. Just a nutty idea, I'm sure there are a million reasons why this is a dumb idea! But, I remember when suspension was a dumb idea!
    I think it mainly comes down to weight. Butyl rubber is heavy and to have a tube heavy duty enough to act in the way you envision it would be prohibitively heavy AND expensive.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCWages View Post
    I think it mainly comes down to weight. Butyl rubber is heavy and to have a tube heavy duty enough to act in the way you envision it would be prohibitively heavy AND expensive.
    I have a solution! Carbon fiber tubes!

  19. #19
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    The 1st install of Cushcore is something worth paying someone else to do. I'd say $20 per wheel is more than a fair price. After you ride on them, it seems to stretch out, and doesn't require muscle to stretch onto the rim, nor special techniques to fit the tire beads under when installing a tire. I have a well used set that pops on easier than a tube, and makes installing tires only slightly harder. I installed a friend's brand new set onto a Nox Teocali and it prob took me about 45 minutes to completely install it + the tire and get it all properly seated, despite having experience at it. It took me far far longer for my first time, but that includes breaks and frustration, where I started questioning my life (no such frustration on my friend's set as I already knew the techniques and saw the end clear in sight).

    I'd say run both F&R if you want to step up your plowing game, and rear only for just the rim protection for your current level of recklessness.

    Also, poke a hole through the Cush Core where the valve hole is. You can take a long valve tube tube and run it on top of the CushCore if you get a flat that you can't plug or tape up.

    I've gotten one flat since using it, and that was due to a tape failure (from a broken spoke). Hope you are able to find the leak and patch it up. xD

    The weight is noticeable. I took 3 weeks off, and decided to pull the CushCore out the front. I got back a bit of my zip/acceleration that made the ride experience quite a bit more enjoyable.

    Phil using levers to push the tire will damage the flimsy Stan's style of tape. IMO, stop by a Spec shop and get their 2bliss rim strip and trim as needed.
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  20. #20
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    I still can't bring myself to spend that much on some tire inserts.

    I've been running huck norris for a while though, and it's definitely saturated as all heck. One of the inserts has torn as well, so it won't hold together in a band. My big take-away from Phil's review is "hey I could probably just run inserts in the rear tire only."

    Sorry wife, I'm gonna make a mess in the kitchen tonight swapping shit around.

    I'd say it's also a mark against the real world dampening gains that Phil doesn't run one in his front tire.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I've always wondered, why not just make some mountain bike tubes thicker? Like 1/4" thick. Would eliminate almost all flats and would provide some of the benefits of CushCore without the mess of tubeless. Would seem ideal for downhill/enduro.
    They do... maybe not 1/4" thick but DH tubes are 2-3x the weight of regular tubes and somewhat more resistant to pinch flats. But it's an extra 200+g per tube and it only makes the setup more resistant and not immune to pinch flats.

    I do think wheels and tires are going to be where it's at for improving mt bikes going forward. Geometry and shocks may be plateauing.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by davec113 View Post
    They do... maybe not 1/4" thick but DH tubes are 2-3x the weight of regular tubes and somewhat more resistant to pinch flats. But it's an extra 200+g per tube and it only makes the setup more resistant and not immune to pinch flats.

    I do think wheels and tires are going to be where it's at for improving mt bikes going forward. Geometry and shocks may be plateauing.
    I would agree with this.

  23. #23
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    Nice video review. Cool trails.

    I run FTDs on my dh bike and really like them. Not only do they allow decreased pressures, they support the tire and hold it in to the rim solidly, and provide some damping. But they are heavy and a real pita getting tires on and off.

    As much as I like them on my DH rig I can't see using inserts on my trail bike.

  24. #24
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    Yes the first time was really hard.
    But once you get the hang of it its no big deal.
    Its just a little harder to install or remove than without.
    You just have to practice and follow the instructions exactly.

    I agree that it takes a bit of the snapiness out of the bike so its not all roses.

  25. #25
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    Phil's New CushCore Review-20180307_230536.jpg

    So nice when the CushCore insert's stretched and keeps its shape, compared to when it's all kinked and folded up out of the box. It went on easily by hand with the Rekon+ half installed already, with messy sealant coating the tire, on a WTB i29 rim.

    CushCore guys say they have a plus tire variant in the works. They don't say that it's a no-go, but say that the current design doesn't come up the sidewall enough, getting an estimated 85-90% of support that they'd like to see.
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  26. #26
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    Tip: when installing the tire over CushCore, seeing the line around a tire that typically shows when the tire is fully seated is a BAD sign. Go back to that area and make sure it's hidden under the rim flange, else your efforts in getting the last bit of tire onto the rim will be futile.

    Technique tip: I put the loose tire bead side away from me. Using two hands, I grab the tire and insert with an overhand grip, thumbs behind the cushcore, and other fingers on the other side of the cushcore. I then rock both the tire and insert forward, then rotate the insert back with it pivoting on my thumbs. If there's enough slack in the tire where I grabbed it on the far side, the tire bead should fall into the center channel.

    I only offer this technique because you will likely tire yourself out if you rely too much on brute muscle force, before completing the job. It really is tiring for a lightweight like myself to stretch and move the cushcore. I just try to keep it simple, always finishing at the valve core.



    Tips for brand new CushCore install:

    CushCore has molded in notches/channels, since it sits on the valve and sits up against the tire. It's a pain in the ass to get one lined up with the valve, so my solution was just to poke a hole directly over the valve (using a Stan's tubeless valve, instead of CushCore's). The hole allows for spare tube use without pulling out the CushCore (with a long enough valve). I use a "scribe" tool, and then just stretch it out with a 6mm allen and a twisting action.

    If you need a third hand to help with stretching the CushCore one, perhaps use some sort of ratchet bar clamp, that way you can use both hands close together to grip the cushcore and pull/stretch it onto the rim.

    I like to fit the tire over the CushCore before trying to getting it hooked into the rim. I don't recommend installing the CushCore like a tube with a tire half installed unless the CushCore is already used/stretched, like pictured above. That would require a lot of finger/grip strength to pull it in there with a new CushCore.



    This reminds me... I should try to see how my buddies react, to me bashing into curbs full speed on the short ride from parking lot to trailhead.
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Is that a spoke reflector I see??

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Is that a spoke reflector I see??
    Yea, there's also an speed sensor magnet. I ride a lot of road. I should add one to my Haven wheel up front (I just converted from plus front to 29F/27.5+R).

    I had a dork disc on there for a few hundred miles, but I discovered that it physically came in contact with my Shimano rear derailleur when I was in my granny gear.
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prozach0215 View Post
    I ran one on my hardtail for 4 months of hard riding ( lots of DH). You can run less pressure. I could get down to around 18psi as long as I wasn't going too fast on chunky terrain. Ran around 25 on DH runs.
    Iím surprised that you needed cushcores to run those pressures in the chunk.

    Iíve had no issues running 25f/18r on 742s with Minion 2.5s.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustedone View Post
    Iím surprised that you needed cushcores to run those pressures in the chunk.

    Iíve had no issues running 25f/18r on 742s with Minion 2.5s.
    Most people don't ride as fast and hard as him.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustedone View Post
    Iím surprised that you needed cushcores to run those pressures in the chunk.

    Iíve had no issues running 25f/18r on 742s with Minion 2.5s.
    18psi in the rear? Thatís impressive.

    Even disregarding flats, I like my tires nice and firm.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustedone View Post
    Iím surprised that you needed cushcores to run those pressures in the chunk.

    Iíve had no issues running 25f/18r on 742s with Minion 2.5s.
    I usually run 5psi lower in the front than the rear. Why run a lower pressure in the rear than the front?

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustedone View Post
    Iím surprised that you needed cushcores to run those pressures in the chunk.

    Iíve had no issues running 25f/18r on 742s with Minion 2.5s.
    Hmm,. Cool. Everyone is different I guess. I wouldn't have much of rim left after one run on a high speed chunky run at 18 psi. I could maybe do that on my full suspension but I'd still Jack the rim and wouldn't like how squirmy the tire was in turns. On a full suspension I could see maybe 15 with the cush core. Of course, it really depends on speed and terrain I assume.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by prozach0215 View Post
    Hmm,. Cool. Everyone is different I guess. I wouldn't have much of rim left after one run on a high speed chunky run at 18 psi. I could maybe do that on my full suspension but I'd still Jack the rim and wouldn't like how squirmy the tire was in turns. On a full suspension I could see maybe 15 with the cush core. Of course, it really depends on speed and terrain I assume.
    And riding style plays a huge factor. I know people that arenít necessarily faster than me but like to slap into corners super hard and huck every thing in sight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I usually run 5psi lower in the front than the rear. Why run a lower pressure in the rear than the front?
    Fat fingers. 15f not 25. That would be crazy.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by dustedone View Post
    Fat fingers. 15f not 25. That would be crazy.
    I was thinking, 'Dang, is this some new trend I'm not aware of!' Cool man!

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by RBoardman View Post
    18psi in the rear? Thatís impressive.

    Even disregarding flats, I like my tires nice and firm.
    Wide rims, the 742s are 35mm internal, and high volume tires (like the Wide Trail Minions made specifically for 35mm rims) make it easy to low pressures without tire squirm.

  38. #38
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    I've been running mine front and rear on my Honzo and I like em a lot. They take the worry out of most trails and as a bigger dude I like rim protection aspect. I run around 28 in the rear and 25 in the front and have gobs of traction and they don't feel squirmy at all. I ride a lot of rutted rooty technical PNW stuff and they help out a ton. Not the best rider but I've had more than a few people on full suspension bikes tell me that they are blown away at how fast I am downhill on the rough stuff.

  39. #39
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    I just set mine up this morning. 2.35 and 2.6 Hans Dampf's on Enve m70HV's. First one took the better part of an hour - with the 'ah ha' moment at about 45 minutes in. Second wheel took 8 minutes. Stretching the CC over the rim was pretty easy. I really struggled with the last little bit of bead biting. I'm familiar with the bead in the center well technique but was struggling to get the tire to slide in with the tire lever.

    I ended up using the plastic wrapped end of a Park Tool wrench to slide all of the bead into the track - like people say - you want to go about .25" past the normal seated line. That's really the only trick - finding a way to get the bead jammed into the well.

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