Tubeless tyre inserts claim to offer additional protection for your mountain bike rim, so you can run lower tyre pressures for improved traction. Nukeproof’s Advanced Rim Defence (ARD) system is one of the newer inserts on the market, so we got our local rim-dinger, David Hayward, to put them through the grinder as part of a tubeless insert group test. Over to David.
Gosh, the bike industry is becoming a veritable foam party now, what with all these rim inserts, not to mention foam filled handlebars and rims. Nukeproof is one of the latest brands to, figuratively, strip down to a swimming cossie and wade into the bubbles.
Nukeproof Advanced Rim Defence (ARD) System
The ARD is Nukeproof’s own design of rim protector, with a high density, custom foam extrusion in a lovely pale canary yellow colour. Should that match your bike no one else will know, but you will, and that’s what counts.
The shape of these is hard to describe, and the cross section hard to photograph without cutting one to pieces. Basically though, the cross section is a blobby cross shape that looks like something from a Jim Woodring comic. Or, sort of reminiscent of the Snapchat ghost. The largest prong sits down in the rim well, and the smallest stick out to the sides above the edges of the rim.
Nukeproof sells the ARD inserts as a pair with valves included for just under 50 quid. They’re available in 27.5in or 29in diameters, but unlike other inserts that come in multiple sizes to suit different tyre widths, these are a one-size-fits-most. Well, providing your rims measure 19-35mm wide internally.
Confirmed weight for one of our 27.5in ARD test inserts was 134g without the valve.
Fitting The Nukeproof ARD Inserts
These are easy enough to fit, and I found them just a little bit more difficult than Panzer, which I ran just before these. Like pretty much all inserts, they arrive quite contorted, and get a little easier to handle if you just pop them on a rim for a day or so to take shape. Another tip is to mount your tyre first, then dismount just one bead for insert insertion. All round, that’s way easier than trying to fit a new tyre and insert at the same time.
I assumed these would be easy thanks to the little blobby wing shape not being angled downward to the rim well, but it turns out not to be the case – their relative tightness means they exert plenty of pressure outwards and downwards on contact with sidewalls. On 25mm internal width rims, it only just left enough room for bead stuffing. It took a bit of faff to get the bead started, then some cramming, but it all went together without too much drama.
One of our ARD inserts had a slight split on the inner side of the join. This didn’t seem to expand or get worse, but if the ends do ever separate, I know what I’ll do: as with the Vittoria Air-Liner, I’ll punch two holes in it and zip tie it together. Just foam, innit?
On first fitting, the ARD worked fine with a standard tubeless valve, not blocking it or impeding airflow. I did then switch to the Nukeproof supplied valves though, which were good.
While not fully enclosed at the base like Rimpact or Cushcore valves, they do have a deep, narrow slot to allow airflow when a rim insert is pressing down against it.
I also ended up trying the ARD valves out with Flat Tire Defender inserts, which I’d found could block the relatively shallow channels in their own FTD supplied valves. Not these though, as the ARD valve channels are too deep for that EDPM rubber to creep into.
They’re good valves, and come in a bronze finish that would probably match Fox Kashima bits quite well, if you’re into that sort of pimperage.
Riding With The Nukeproof ARD Inserts
On the first ride out with these, I decided to take a deliberately clumsy line through a rock garden, occasionally manualling into smaller stuff to really give the back wheel some stick. There were a couple of audible dings, but nothing actually dented the rim. This insert lark really is a far cry from my bad old days of folding a bead hook over every second ride.
The Goodyear and Panaracer tyres I ran ARD with do also have quite burly sidewalls, but those audible dinks were the constant tell that the insert was doing its job.
ARD worked, and it’s difficult to say much else, to be honest. If anything, I thought the cross section might give less bead retention than other inserts, but there was no burping while I ran these. Especially on narrower (by 2019 standards) rims, they scrunch the tyre down and lock it in just fine.
The blobby-esque cruciform shape keeps the insert down in the rimwell and stops it moving around much inside the tyre. That cross section being relatively small also leaves plenty of air volume for tyre pressure tweaking. Their high density has given plenty of impact protection so far.
It was quite difficult to remove tyres with ARD in, but as stated, that may be due to relatively narrow rims, making less space for everything to move around. The Goodyear tyres I ran were also stubborn to get on or off, with or without inserts. It took some work with levers to get under everything and take it all apart.
Given the little wings on the sides are relatively thin at 11mm, that they sit directly above the bead hooks on the rim, and that my rims supplied occasional musical accompaniment while riding, I absolutely expected to see small slits in these inserts. If not holes.
There were none.
Like the Vittoria Air-Liner, the ARD is another insert that came out of the group test looking absolutely pristine. Sealant didn’t cling to it at all, either, flowing freely over the smooth surface instead.
At 134g per insert, but a relatively small cross section, that would seem to indicate high density compared to some of the other inserts in this test. ARD did the job well, for sure.
Mid-price, mid-size, these did a good job of protecting rims and keeping tyre beads in. They’re not as extreme as the Vittoria Air-Liner when it comes to protection, and not as absolute as CushCore when it comes to bead locking, but these are a good, all rounder tyre insert at a very competitive price. Many inserts also come with valves, but Nukeproof’s are among the best in this test too.
Interested to see what other tubeless inserts are available and how they perform? Check out all of our tubeless insert reviews right here!
|Product:||ARD Rim Defence System|
|Price:||£49.99 (pair with valves)|
|Tested:||by David Hayward for 1 month|
Try Singletrack digital membership for only 99p for the first month.
Or only £2.99 with a copy of the latest Singletrack magazine, worth £10.