WHAT IS IT? The Tube Saddle is a foam insert that
slips between the inner tube, the rim and the tire bead.
Think of it as one-third of a mousse, because it fills the
lower portion of the rim and tire with a foam protector
that eliminates the dreaded rim pinch.
WHAT’S IT COST? $49.95 (21-inch front, 18-inch rear,
19-inch rear and mini cycle sizes).
WHAT STANDS OUT? Here’s a list of things that
stand out with the Tube Saddle.
(1) Weight. A 21-inch front Tube Saddle weighs
approximately 5. 2 ounces, while a 19-inch rear Tube
Saddle weighs 6 ounces. A comparable heavy-duty tube
weighs over a 1/2-pound more.
( 2) Pinch flats. A pinch flat occurs when a tire hits
a rock, bounces off of a square-edged bump or flat-lands
over a big jump. In this situation the tube folds over and
gets pinched between the rim and tire bead. You can
tell a pinch flat by the signature snake-bite-style double
holes in the tube. The Tube Saddle eliminates, or more
accurately lessens, the danger of pinch flats by putting a
cushion of foam between the rim and the tire bead.
( 3) Flat-proof. The Tube Saddle does not make your
tire flat-proof. Your tires can still be punctured by debris
or suffer from tube failure.
( 4) Air pressure. The biggest plus of the Tube Saddle
was that the MXA test riders were able to run much
lower tire pressures than normal. The tire pressure that
we choose to run with a conventional tube isn’t what is
best for the performance of the bike; instead, we run the
pressure that allows the tube to hold up to the loads.
With Tube Saddles installed, we ran two days’ worth of
air-pressure tests on two different bikes. With 13. 5 psi
in the Tube Saddle-equipped wheels, the tires felt stiffer
than normal, probably because of the additional side-
wall stiffness and lower air volume caused by the foam
inserts. With 10 psi in the tires, the bike hooked up
better and traction was improved. With 8 psi front and
rear, we loved the feel of the Tube Saddle rear tire but
worried about knob roll-over on the taller and skinnier
front tire. At 5 psi in both tires, the straight-line traction
was super impressive, but we wallowed in the corners as
the rear tire deformed. As for the front tire, we had major
issues with roll-over. In less than five minutes we tore all
the side knobs off of a Dunlop MX32 front tire. As a final
test, we ran the rear tire without any air in it to see what
would happen. It wasn’t a great performer, but the tire
stayed on the rim long enough for us to finish a moto.
( 5) Setting. We recommend starting at 10 psi front and
rear with the admonition that hard-pack dirt may require
more pressure—and soft dirt, sand or mud may require
( 6) Mounting. It was more complicated than a typical
tire change, but after we did it a few times we calculated
that it added 5 minutes to each tire change. The hardest
part was getting the valve stem through both the Tube
Saddle and the rim. Once through, we put the lock nut
on to keep it from sucking back in. The best method is
the same method you would use installing a mousse. Put
the tube and Tube Saddle inside the tire and set the rim
into the tire with the valve stem aligned. Then, install the
tire as you normally would. We used the longest tire irons
possible, because it felt like we were installing a tire on a
rim that had air in the tube already. On the plus side, the
odds of pinching the tube with a tire iron during installation are greatly reduced. We ran the rim locks down as
tight as possible.
WHAT’S THE SQUAWK? Although the Tube Saddles
will last over three tire changes before they get compressed (and the rear tire compresses more than the front),
at $40 apiece, there is some considerable cost over time.
If you are cursed by the dreaded snake bite,
TUBE SADDLE FOAM TIRE INSERTS
the Tube Saddle is the answer.
MXA TEAM TESTED