Tyre inserts have rapidly become commonplace in the world of enduro, downhill and for hard hitting trail riders who require more protection than available from a standard tubeless tyre setup. There are a huge range of inserts available on the market, ranging from simple pieces of tubular foam, to dual pressure chambers for your wheels. The benefits of these insert systems are clearly visible on paper, when it comes to higher grip levels from lower tyre pressures, reduced rim damage and reduced pinch punctures, something which if you’re a heavy rider like me, Is extremely appealing.
The downside to such insert technology however is increased rotational weight. Something that the average XC rider is not super stoked about…
In comes the PTN, or to give it the official name, Pepi’s Tyre Noodle. This simple contraption has been around for a few years and is even lurking in a few of your favorite World Cup racers arsenal.
Weighing in at just 80g, the PTN Rockkline is the heavier of the two systems available from Pepi, with the RaceLine coming in at an impressive claimed weight of 52g! The PTN systems are essentially a foam noodle with an anti absorption membrane coating to stop soaking up sealant, and therefore making your setup heavier.
I've been testing the PTN Rockline now for about three months of consistent riding across varying terrain and different tyre and rim setups with my main race setup being a 25mm Roval Control SL rim parred to a Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskin tyre in a 29x2.25” size. For this setup i was using the size “Small” as recommended by Pepi.
In riding, the tyre feels a little different than a conventional tubeless setup. The sidewalls are a little stiffer due to the cylindrical shape of the insert, which resulted in me dropping down to 25psi on the rear from the usual 27psi (usual pressure range for me 82kg frame). This still allowed for a nice supple ride however whilst also being suitibly stable when pushed hard into corners.
Having always suffered with pinch punctures on my tubeless setups (splitting the tyre at the bead of the rim) I was super excited to try these out. For the most part, I had no issues whatsoever in around 3000km of riding, including hitting rock gardens overly hard for “testing” purposes. The insert provided loads of extra tyre support certainly allowing me to push harder than I usually would in certain situations.
I did however still have two pinch punctures on the rear during testing, both times from hitting a large square edged rock. Admittedly I was probably going a bit too fast, and without the insert I would have probably done more damage to both the tyre and the rim. I then checked the insert for damage after both instances and it was unmarked both times. I was also able to ride the 10km or so home on a flat tyre due to the support given by the insert, which was an added bonus.
The bottom line I feel is simple. For the sake of 80g, for us heavy riders out there it seems like a “no brainer” to not run a system like this. For the avid racer out there is it really worth sacrificing the hundreds of hours of training and countless expense of getting to a big race only to puncture and ruin your hopes? Ok, they aren't a completely puncture proof option, but certainly gives more piece of mind to your riding.