There’s a helluva lot of innovation going on with tyres right now. Aside from the multiple widths and diameters that both wheel and bike brands are push…sorry, innovating, there’s also a lot being tried and tested to enhance the performance and durability of tubeless tyres as mountain bikers seek to achieve the holy trinity of tyre performance; reducing the chance of punctures, increasing traction, and enhancing overall speed.
But as rubber gets wider and bigger in volume, there’s a need to keep tyre weight in check so as to not end up with ridiculously heavy rolling mass that detracts from the bike’s ride quality and handling. But as tyres get wider and thinner, this lightweight and svelte construction can result in a degradation in strength, durability and the tyre’s ability to maintain shape when being run at lower pressures.
And that’s where products like MrWolf’s ‘Banger’ comes in.
Much like the Schwalbe Procore, Huck Norris, and Innova tubeless tyre systems, the Banger is a product designed to enhance the performance of existing tubeless tyre setups. The general concept is to allow the rider to use desirably low tyre pressures, but without the traditional risks associated of running sub-20 psi operating pressures, such as dinging (or worse, cracking) a rim sidewall when your low-pressure deforms sufficiently when being smacked into a sharp rock.
To do this, MrWolf (yes, that is the actual brand name), has created the Banger. The Banger is fundamentally a soft foam tube (kind of like a pool noodle) that sits inside your rim. It fills the majority of the tyre’s casing, providing a cushioning effect to help stabilise and reinforce the inside of the tyre.
The Banger is available in 26in, 27.5in and 29in diameters, and MrWolf offers it in four different widths to cover tyre sizes from 1.9in wide through to 3.0in wide.
Made from a low density technopolymer, the foam ‘noodle’ sits inside the tyre cavity, decreasing the total air volume by up to 95%. The foam noodle is designed to be squishy and elastic, and it’s also sealed with a waterproof skin that means it won’t absorb water or tubeless tyre sealant. As such, you still use tubeless tyre sealant in conjunction with the Banger, but it won’t soak up the sealant.
According to MrWolf, the Banger is able to “reduce the risk of punctures or cuts to your tire by 90%“. That’s a pretty bold claim, and one we’d love to put to the test. But having had excellent results with both Scwhalbe Procore and Huck Norris tubeless hop-up kits, we’d expect the Banger to offer an improvement in both pinch-flat resistance and the ability to help protect the rim from harsh dings and rock-strikes. For anyone with expensive alloy or carbon wheels, that will be a durability gain worth serious consideration.
As to reducing the chance of your tyre being cut on the trail? That claim seems a little more far-fetched, given that a tyre can be sliced by a rock regardless of whether there’s air or a foam noodle inside it (Ed: unless the Banger uses a magic aura to defend the tyre against cuts??)
Although tyre pressure is entirely dependent on numerous factors such as rider weight, riding style, tyre width, tyre construction, bike setup, and trail conditions, MrWolf has given a rough approximation of the tyre pressures achievable with the Banger system. For a light rider, you’re looking at 14psi, and for a heavy rider, you’re looking at 25psi. Again, those numbers kind of mean nothing when we have no idea what tyre diameter and width they’re talking, but hey, numbers.
Another purported benefit of the Banger system is the added stability it provides to the tyre casing. When using lower pressures, there’s more opportunity for your tyre casing to deform and fold over when it’s met with high impact or cornering loads. Ever seen wrinkles appear in the tyre sidewall when you push down on the handlebars? That’s the tyre casing folding over as it loses stability, and that’s what the Banger aims to address.
With the Banger inside, the foam noodle supposedly bolsters internal sidewall support to decrease the sensation of the tyre tread folding over as you turn hard through a corner (when running low pressures). And as the Banger sits down onto the rim bed and wedges in between the tyre beads, it should provide an additional barrier to stop the tyre beads from potentially de-seating from their bead lock.
All sounds good huh?
A warning for the weight weenies; best to look away now.
As miraculous as the claims are, a Banger will add extra mass to your wheels. Funnily enough, it’s about the same weight as an inner tube (remember those things we got rid of to reduce rotational weight?). So for a 29in XC tyre, a Banger will add just shy of 200 grams. For a 27.5 x 2.5in tyre, a Banger will add 270 grams. If you’ve got a 29er plus bike, a Banger will load you up with an extra 700 grams of rotational weight – phew!
MrWolf’s counter-claim to the weight argument is that “you needn’t be afraid of using lighter rims and tires“. The idea being that the Banger provides additional protection for both your tyre and rim, that you can either use the same tyre and rim and enjoy more durability, or you can achieve about the same durability while using lighter rims and tyres. Or at least, that’s what MrWolf says.
Weight and durability aside, one of the more interesting claims of the Banger is that it provides added suspension for your bike. Because the foam noodle compresses in a non-linear fashion, the theory is that it will provide added damping to your tyres, with the Banger absorbing more of the impact energy. This is a similar claim to what Schwalbe and Syntace made when Procore design was first shown to the public, and was in fact, the main reason that Procore was invented. Again, we’ll be keen to verify those claims by a certain MrWolf…
All interesting stuff nonetheless, and if anything, it’s terrific to see so much innovation in the mountain bike tyre world. If you want to learn more about the Banger system, check out the video below from MrWolf. Or if you want to back the Kickstarter campaign, you can pledge your allegiance to the design via the MrWolf Kickstarter page.