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'Pot Sausage': Why Use Them? Pros and cons of MTB Inserts

MTB inserts, or friendship sausages, have their merits but also their defects. But let's not call them 'anti-puncture'! Let's get to know the most popular ones.

redpoison evo
Technomousse Red Poison EVO

In MTB you get punctures: at the moment there is no system for not puncturing. The only solution will be solid tires when there is a light, flexible and cheap material. But at the moment we have to choose what to insert inside our tyre: insert, inner tube or tubeless? If you are still in doubt, I advise you to read on this article where we compare the strengths and weaknesses of the 3 systems.

But now let's talk about the MTB Inserts, or Mousse, or sausages in common slang. But let's start with the basic question: what are inserts (or sausages)?

WHAT ARE SAUSAGES?

Soul Fat
Soul Ciccia

The inserts are cylinders, in more or less rigid material (polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene, closed cell foam, open cell foam and so on and so forth) and different shapes/characteristics based on the models. The objective, however, always remains the same, that is to protect the rim from accidental blows.

As you can see from the photo, the inserts are inserted between the rim and the tyre, just like an inner tube, but then a tubeless valve will be needed to allow inflation (and related liquid, highly recommended). So, in a nutshell, it's a tubeless system to all intents and purposes with the addition of a plastic material inside which helps protect the rim.

There are even systems with sausage and inner tube inside (Tannus Armour)

WHY USE AN INSERT ON MTB?

As you may have noticed, we don't call them "anti-puncture inserts", as it is erroneously spread in the Mountain Bike environment. By inserting a sausage inside the tire, the risk of puncture will remain the same as with a tubeless system, however with the difference that, with the insert, we can go home or finish a stage in the race without losing too much ground.

Myriam Nicole Mont Sainte Anne
Not using the sausage means retiring, or losing a lot of ground, in the event of a puncture – ©Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Here are the advantages:

  • They allow you to turn at low pressures, increasing the driving feeling, without banging on the rim at the first big hit on some stone.
  • Always in use at low pressures, the risk of stalling is avoided.
  • In competitive use, it allows us not to lose ground in the event of a puncture (a very important aspect).

RECOMMENDED PRESSURES

We try to give a range of pressure, without prejudice to the many variables such as the consistency of the casing, the riding style, the terrain conditions and the type of use, whether XC, Enduro or DH (in this article we talked about the optimal pressures to use).

On mountain bikes, the pressures are between 1.5 bar and 1.8 bar and, with an insert, you can go down to 1.2 bar without problems (always take the pressures with the right critical sense given the many variables involved). All to the advantage of comfort and grip.

Air Liner MTB1
Vittoria Air Liner, one of the first models released

Normally you turn a 0.3/0.4 lower but there is no fixed law since, I repeat once again to avoid being misunderstood, there are many variables in the choice of pressure. My advice is to learn to feel the tires with your finger: the "famous" Ditometer. Because in this way we immediately have the perception of how much the casing supports us: reasoning on the sheer number can often mislead us with more/less sustained tyres.

How-To-Series_7_Tubeless-Set-up_SCOTT_Bike_2019_Close-Up-Picture_by-Jochen-Haar_JHA_0453-844x563-1
The "Ditometer"

THE DISADVANTAGES OF USING AN MTB INSERT

  • Il point of greatest disadvantage is MAINTENANCE: no matter how ingenious one is to design tools and assembly solutions, having an extra component inside the wheel is synonymous with greater maintenance. Then not everyone has the necessary manual skills to assemble it and here we find ourselves cursing on Saturday evening in the garage.
Our Francesco Libro has already gone through this situation 🙂

On the other hand, the goal of the sausage is not to allow the tire to break loose, this means that it is not easy to remove the tire in the event of a problem or simply checking the latex inside. For maintenance, we also include the fact that it has a limited duration: in the sense that they are not infinite and must be checked, both to understand their condition (especially after riding in run-flat, i.e. with a hole wheel) and for the latex, given that they tend always drinking a little and consuming it more quickly (also from this point of view, the latest models are improving a lot).

  • WEIGHT: maybe if you ride on DH or e-bike, the weight doesn't have a very relevant aspect, but for the competitor (especially cross country) is a fundamental point: a lot of work is done to have light rims and then 2 inserts are inserted in the 2 tires (it must be said that in the new models the weight is drastically reducing).

SO SAUSAGES YES OR NO?

As in many areas, there is no black or white, you have to examine your conscience and understand if they can really bring you more advantages than disadvantages, without being influenced by fashion, by the needs (often different from ours given the paths) of the PROs or from bad company.

As always, I will be harsh but sincere in my judgment and I will try to give you a guideline if you are confused.

ATHLETE CROSS COUNTRY

AGONIST – If you are an athlete, the sausages are to be evaluated but not essential: they give advantages in particularly extreme routes (wrecked and/or wet), where the low pressure of the tires brings advantages and the sausage saves us from accidental blows on the rim. By inserting the sausages, the weight of the wheels increases, and this leads to the use of lighter tires to maintain smoothness (a dog chasing its tail). That's why, in most cases, a tubeless tire of substance (not extra-light) takes you away from all these factors.
NOT AGONIST– If you are a biker who doesn't have performance as an absolute priority, and often coincides with those who don't compete, the simplicity of a tubeless bike has the upper hand over the use of sausages that improve performance but require greater maintenance.

Luke Braidot
Luca Braidot uses Supermousse Pac Evo Lite inserts – ©Red Bull Content Pool

ENDURO ATHLETE

AGONIST – If you are an agonist, sausages are useful because they improve the riding feeling (thanks to low pressures), limit dangerous hits to the rim (in competition, you know, the pace and stresses are far greater than in training) and they can let you close the race, without losing positions, even in the event of a puncture. The inserts become fundamental in an e-bike use, given the weights involved (greater than the traditional mtb).
NOT AGONIST – If you don't race, it depends a lot on your driving style. If you are light and/or not aggressive in riding, a substantial tubeless tire is enough. If, on the other hand, you are "bubbly" in driving, you could evaluate the sausage even if you don't compete. This because? Because the stresses you have with an e-bike or at an Enduro/DH level are high even in non-racing use. Especially with an e-bike: if we ride technical descents with an e-bike, having a sausage allows you to ride with your preferred pressure without always having the anxiety of hitting the rim if you make a mistake.

Matteo Bertha
The Italian e-mtb champion Matteo Berta: in this type of use, e-bike enduro racing, the sausage is essential

ALL MOUNTAIN ATHLETE

The all-mountain athlete is the one in the middle: he could be an uphill cross country rider or a downhill enduro rider (or both). Here you need to do a good analysis and figure out if you're more uphill or downhill, or if your riding style stresses the mtb so much that you need an insert to insert into the wheel. Generally speaking, a biker of this type (having no competitive ambitions) favors the use of a substantial tubeless tire without the use of particular inserts.

Because remember: what isn't there, doesn't break.

CLICK HERE FOR KNOW THE BEST SELLING INSERTS



Written by

[email protected] I am a fan of everything that has 2 wheels: at a young age I practiced road and track cycling (Italian Allievi champion). At the age of 18 I passed into the cross country competing at national/international level as an Under23. Past Elite, I made the choice to take things more lightly from a training point of view, and my love for gravity disciplines was born, training me as an FCI MTB instructor and guide. Now I have made passion my profession by managing 2 MTB centers on the island of Elba (Bike Center Elba and Elba MTB), creating the FANTAmtb and telling in an ironic but professional way everything that revolves around MTB thanks to 365mountainbike and 365TV (YouTube'PULITI dentro BIKER fuori').

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