Rim inserts have become popular over the last few years , we tested the Huck Norris out for around 2 and half years, covering around 4000 miles in various terrain and conditions. RRP is £29.99 per wheel.
Huck Norris consists of a single strip of closed cell foam that you insert into your tubeless tyre before adding air. Holes are cut within the foam we assume to save weight and the ends are joined with a piece of included velcro. We really liked the fact that the packging is also a front mud guard, a nice touch. The insert is offered in a range of sizes to fit different wheels and tyre combos.
Getting the insert in place is pretty straightforward, just get one side of the tyre mounted, insert Huck Norris and then seat the other side as you would normally. We found that it required a little more effort than normal to get the bead in place, but it wasn't a major issue.
Judging performance of a tyre insert is very difficult unless you are willing to put 2 sets of rims and tyres on the line and put Huck Norris back to back with a insertless rim and smash them into some rock gardens. We've had them mounted up on some expensive carbon rims and well.....the rims are still intact. We've felt quite a few impacts on the rims, and we can see marks and slices in the Huck Norris, so it's definitely been used, but would the rim still be ok without Huck Norris? It's impossible to say. Our gut feeling though is that the foam is fairly thin and whilst there is no doubt it should cushion smaller impacts, the slices we found prove that it doesn't protect against every rock that comes flying into the wheel.
How long the insert lasts largely depends on how many times and how severe the impacts are. Huck Norris claim
If you are a regular trail rider you should get a riding season out of your Huck Norris. If you are a rider that likes very rough terrain and races hard you might get a shorter lifespan from your Huck Norris.
We can see that being true, our local riding isn't particularly rocky so the inserts have lasted well, but they are showing signs of wear, and the more impacts it takes, the less effective it becomes.
£29.99 per wheel is quite a lot of money, and whilst we absolutely don't think the company is ripping anyone off, we're not convinced that the amount of protection gained is worth the investment. However Huck Norris now offer a beefier "DH" version, which even though we haven't tested, would suggest getting over the standard version. However, rim protection isn't the only benefit of Huck Norris. We found that using the inserts made getting tyres setup tubeless WAY WAY easier. As the insert pushes against the sidewall of the tyre, it helps create a good seal when pumping tubeless tyres up. We found that inserting a Huck Norris allowed us to get rims that wouldn't blow up otherwise to go up easily.
So is it worth it? If you are a very heavy or aggressive rider who rides in very rocky terrain, then maybe not. A more substantial insert such as Cush Core, Flat Tire Defender or Nukeproofs ARD inserts would probably give more protection, but at increased weight and in some cases, harder installation. Lighter riders looking for a little bit of protection or people who are struggling to get a tyre to blow up tubeless could benefit from it though, just don't expect to be able to plow into rock gardens with a 5psi and have the wheel survive.