Tubolight’s EVO HD tyre insert is another puncture protecting, pressure reducing, grip enhancing option recently introduced to the best MTB tyre insert category. Not only is it lightweight and reasonably priced, installation is as easy as it gets and it’s almost unnoticeable while riding. Although it's very competitively priced, it’s not as wallet friendly as a some.
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Tubolight EVO HD tyre insert - Technical details
Tubolight has a full range of tyre inserts with each model specifically shaped to suit its intended style of riding. We’ve got the EVO HD insert on test which is designed for trail through to gravity riding thanks to a taller and wider design.
The brand claims to have studied how pinch flats happen and how tyre inserts interact with the tyre and rim, adding more material where it’s needed, hence the fat sides and deep centre channel. The part of the insert that sits over the rim bead has been increased against other models by 30% to 60% depending on the rim width. The EVO HD is built using a harder foam compound which, against the likes of CushCore and Rimpact, is actually rather soft.
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Setting itself apart from those two brands but taking cues from Vittoria’s Airliner is the Air Channel running along its interior. Tubolight has recognised that during a shock, a difference in air pressure is created on either side of the insert and if it’s a particularly tight fit, it can take a while for that pressure to equalise. The Air Channel is designed as a valve to minimise pressure differentiation, improve rolling resistance low and keep the tyre rebounding predictably.
Perhaps the best bit about the EVO HD, is that a single insert weighs just 90g.
Tubolight EVO HD tyre insert – Installation
Unlike most tyre inserts on the market, I’ve found installing the Tubolight EVO HD incredibly easy without needing to reach for my tyre levers.
The EVO HD is installed after slipping on one of the tyre's beads and then hooking one of the Air Channel’s seams over the rim. Afterwards, slip the rest of the insert onto the rim, followed by the second tyre bead. You will need to go back around and push the tyre bead deeper into the rim channel to give yourself some extra slack, but this is something you may need to do without inserts anyway. Also, somewhat surprisingly, I didn't need any tools to get this sorted.
The Air Channel does make adding sealant a little tricky as it can slow the flow when pushing liquid through the valve, so it’s easier just to pour it in before fully closing up the tyre bead. Something I thought was rather cool is that these inserts don’t require tubeless-specific valves thanks to the channel.
Removal is easier than installation which is great considering the monumental task that removing other inserts can pose. It's a simple case of unhooking the beads and working in reverse. Unlike other inserts, the Tubolight doesn't sit so tightly onto the rim (you don't need to stand on the rim to wrench it on), so the job is done without much effort at all.
Tubolight EVO HD tyre insert – Performance
Testing the EVO HD came at a rather convenient time for me as I’ve dropped down the rabbit hole of experimenting with tyre pressures. Without inserts, I settled at 18psi at the front and 22 at the rear both on 2.6in and 2.4in rubber. With these installed, I dropped the pressures to 15psi up front and 18 at the rear.
Of course, at these pressures, grip and rolling resistance are boosted considerably, allowing me to hold corners with more confidence, but what really stood out for me is how the inserts felt.
Thanks to the Air Channel and the weight, they feel imperceptible. Usually, I find it pretty clear when a bike has inserts installed because harder impacts generally feel damped and there’s a huge level of support while cornering, but because air is so free to move around the tyre, it felt much more natural than something like CushCore, which uses a far stiffer foam compound. Aside from a potentially rim-wrecking hit, the tyres feel natural but with a useful hint of support, keeping the tyre in place.
During big, sharp hits (I have a favourite root that I know will compress any tyre) the softer compound of the foam damps impacts comfortably. Don’t get me wrong, I know when the insert is doing its job but it's not quite as obvious with other inserts. In fact, over all of the rocky and rooty terrain I’ve ridden with the EVO HDs installed, I’ve yet to receive any harsh feedback during the bigger hits.
While the inserts feel generally unnoticeable (unless tumbling down the chunkiest of trails), the benefits are clear. As I said, I’ve begun to run some mighty low pressures using these inserts, but never has my tyre shown any signs of burping, or slipping off the rim, even though the foam is rather soft, so this is a credit to its shape.
Upon inspection of a removed insert, a little damage was present apart from one tear in the air channel where I presume it interacted with my valve sat in my asymmetric rim. No qualms here. The damage isn't game over for the insert, and I'm certain it'll live to tell many tales.
Tubolight EVO HD tyre insert - Verdict
It may not be the cheapest insert around, but the Tubolight EVO HD balances performance and weight incredibly well, fully justifying the asking price.
To compare, I tested the Rimpact Pro/Original mix pack that’ll set you back £60, and although it does a great job of protecting your rims, I still managed to burp the tyres at lower pressures and they’re not as supportive as the EVO HD. They were a bit of a pain to install, too. Like the Tubolights, Rimpact weighs just 90g per insert. Then Nukeproof’s ARD inserts are just £48 a pair, but during testing, Rach found that they don’t offer great damping and can feel chattery over small bumps. These are also known to shrink under pressure.
At the other end of the scale is CushCore’s Pro insert set that’ll cost £160. While you do get a pair of valves in the box, they’re significantly heavier and much tougher to install and remove. So much so that you’ll need a bin and the brand has created special tools to help get the job done.
The Tubolight EVO HD is a lightweight tyre insert that does exactly what it’s meant to do, but what makes it stand out against other inserts is the pressure-equalising Air Channel that helps the bike feel incredibly natural and the well thoughtout shape adds just enough support to stop the tyre from rolling. While it’s not the cheapest insert in the world, you’re buying a similar level of performance found with inserts almost twice the price but without the weight penalty and stressful installation.