The battle to make a light-weight, low-cost and effective tyre insert just got a new competitor with the brand new Nukeproof ARD.
We were treated to a first look of the new ARD and a chance to chat to Nukeproof’s tech dude all about the design and testing.
Photos by Laurence Crossman-Emms, Fraser Britton and Jamie Edwards
Nukeproof ARD – Advanced Rim Defence
Available in 27.5″ or 29″
Weighs 130g per wheel for 27.5″ version
Offers anti-puncture protection
Offers impact absorption to defend against dented rims and smoothen out the trail
In the last year or so, tyre insert technology has emerged from the shadows of the World Cup pits to become a staple of weekend warriors and privateer racers alike.
Joining the battle for the ultimate tyre insert is the Nukeproof ARD (that stands for Advanced Rim Defence if you’re wondering). The Ard started life as a pool noodle (no, really) and has evolved through testing and prototyping with Team Chain Reaction Cycles (and a little help from Team Wideopenmag!) into a tidy and refined piece of kit.
The Nukeproof ARD is an oddly shaped foam hoop that sits on your rim and works alongside your tubeless setup. Nukeproof’s designers (interview below!) claim that it has been designed to offer puncture protection, to give tyre stability and to reduce some of the ‘sting’ you get from the trail, with some damping built in to the material.
They reckon it’ll get rid of pinch flats all together and will pin your tyre in place so you can finish your run or enduro stage if you do happen to puncture. That said, none of those things are unique to ARD.
Weight, price, easy to fit
Weight and price were the big considerations for the Nukeproof ARD… and they’re what make the new system so interesting.
They’ve managed to create the system so that it weighs just 130g per insert and costs just £50 for a full set.
Each set contains two inserts and two vales. They’re available for 27.5″ and 29″ wheels – though obviously you can trim down the 29’er version to fit the size below, and so on.
Ease of fitting was also a bit consideration and whilst we’re yet to get these into a wheel, Nukeproof claim they’ve put plenty of effort into keep your thumbs from bleeding. By making the ARD out of foam it’ll actually compress when it’s hidden away in your tyre.
It’s baggy enough to pop onto your rim easily, then compresses under pressure and clamps down tight into place. Hey presto, they say, no need to deploy the metal tyre levers.
What do we think?
We’re beavering away testing loads of tyre inserts right now – and none of them are as light or as affordable as what Nukeproof are offering with the ARD.
At £50 a pair they’re only a tenner more than the cheapest version we’ve found elsewhere and half the price of most of the alternatives. We’re seriously looking forward to giving these a thorough pasting on our favourite fast, rocky, rough trails this weekend!
Until then, keep scrolling for our interview with ARD’s designer Dale McMullan.
Geek time – an interview with Nukeproof about the new Ard system:
So we’re here at the 2019 Nukeproof launch with Dale McMullan who’s the R&D Manager for Nukeproof.
Dale is the guy behind most of the products that you see Sam Hill and the rest of the team riding and anything Nukeproof that you guys are out riding on the trails.
So you’ve got a brand new product out today, do you want to tell us a little bit about it?
Yeah, it’s basically a swimming pool noodle! Actually it’s a bit more technical than that. It’s called ARD, Advanced Rim Defence. It’s an advanced foam insert for inside your tyre for a tubeless system. It’s a combination of bump stop and rim protection.
It fits inside a tyre and is very light weight, which was very important for us. It had to be something that we actually wanted inside our wheels. You won’t know it’s there until you need it really. For 27.5″ size it’s 130g.
How did you see that compare to what else is on the market and why did you go out to try and make it as light as possible?
We started about two years ago talking to Nigel Page – he had a lot of experience with MX mousse type systems but at the time you had to fit the system with a machine, it was very specialist. It kind of got me thinking and of course I went to the pool noodle shop and of course it was too big to fit in the tyre.
I chopped it all down and the weight was always good but it just wasn’t effective, it was too soft to actually do anything. It got us thinking and the next step was actually going to see how we could develop something that was purposeful for the job.
So you told us that the process of getting from the chat with Nigel to what we’ve now got here was quite long. Can you give us a quick run through of the process?
Yeah, we probably could have done something a year ago, it was just so frustrating! First of all we knew it had to be some sort of foam system so we went and met an EVA manufacturer from Taiwan. He explained all the different types of foam. There’s rubber based foams but the side effect of those systems is extra weight… but we ended up settling with the hardest, lightest material he had on offer although we had to develop that even further once we’d added different pigments for the colours.
It was always a balance between hardness and density, and density equals weight. That was the big challenge.
We kept going down different routes but we just had to tick two really important boxes which all stem from the pool noodle thing. You can go buy a pool noodle for five pounds. These systems are coming out for well over £100 a set and it was like “at the end of the day it’s just a pool noodle!”.
So you’ve shown us 4 or 5 different versions of the process, what did you change each time?
The very first version was just a round extrusion shape. It was a really good bump stop but wasn’t working for side impacts. Generally when you dent a rim or nip a tyre it’s single sided and it’s a single sided strike. You never get a perfect flat rock. So that was good and we were able to get the hardness pretty good and the rebound characteristics were good – it wasn’t too slow that it didn’t return to shape but it wasn’t a bouncy ball effect. It had to have some sort of damping.
We got the material sorted and then it was about finding out what the best way of making it was going to be in the profile and shape we have now. We nearly went down the injection tooling route which probably gives you the nicest proudct but there’s two massive side effect – one was the price, it’s quite a slow process and you might be able to squeeze two inserts into one tool but it’s probably 20 minutes to make two inserts. The other major side effect was the weight, that injection tooling gives you a skin that adds a whole load of weight. Luckily we were able to work it out and each insert came to over 200g.
So we kept pushing and came up with the different shapes that you could produce. We were having to cut rather than extrude it it and we ended up with a triangle shape that wasn’t effective for the side impacts and stability.
So in the end we ended up with a sort of top secret process, which was a special way of cutting it. And that’s how we ended up with the shape we’ve got now.
And obviously the fun bit is testing, how do you go and test something like that? A lot of it must just be the feel?
To be honest, I’m quite notorious for damaging rims! To be honest, if it survives with me it’s a pretty good test. I’ve been testing a couple of versions over the last couple of years from the hand cut pool noodle to the final version and some of the ultimate tests were just riding our local tracks in Rostrevor.
Some of the tracks at the top have some sharp, shaley rocks and there’s been a few times when I’ve slicked the tyre. Trying to save a tyre from slicing is nearly impossible unless you run full DH tyres but I’ve been able to just ride on with no air in the system and come down with a rim that has no dints. It’s still squirmy but you can just ride on. On an enduro stage you have to just ride on and keep going.
At the same time we’ve been handing out samples – it’s funny, every time we get a batch of samples they seem to just disappear! They’re going out to the different team riders – to the Team Wideopen guys, the Nukeproof Team boys. Those guys have been testing inserts for a a long time and we still had a few failures where they’ve hit massive rocks at 30MPH and there’s still a limitation to anything if you hit it hard enough and fast enough.
But for pinch flats, I haven’t had one since using this system.
Something else you talked about was trying to make the system easy to fit.
That’s a big thing. We were thinking of that idea right at the begging when some brands were bringing out their systems. Every time something new came out we were thinking “oh no, maybe we’ve missed the boat here” but at the same time we thought we’d test the other systems and there was a few where I nearly gave up even before testing riding the system.
I was having to watch how-to videos, having to get hundreds of cable ties out, crying! There was one I even damaged a rim, I was putting so much effort into trying to fit it, the rim won’t even hold a tyre any more. That was big thing, it has to be user friendly.
With our system you can put one side of the tyre on as normal and it’s just like fitting a tube where you’d push the tube over the rim, you just push our insert over the rim, you don’t have to stretch it or do anything crazy with hammers. Fit it as normal and it’s reasonably loose on the rim, which allows you to fit the bead reasonably easily.
The profile of the insert allows the bead to pass reasonably easily and get to the well of the rim reasonably easily. Then, you just fit the tyre as normal, the trickiest bit is just getting the bead onto the rim initially. Once you’ve done that it’s plain sailing.
The next stage is pretty interesting. Obviously at that point it’s loose on the rim and it’s going to rattle around. Once you pressurise the tyre, because it’s close cell foam it’s under atmospheric pressure and as soon as you add any extra pressure it shrinks to the rim and clamps to the rim and the tyre. That helps with burping and rolling of the tyre because it ends up tightly fitted to the rim.
This does need a special valve because it’ll try and close the vale off but we supply that special valve with the system to make sure there’s no issues.
So these will be out in November. 27.5″ or 29″ and you get two in box with two valves?
Yep, and the most important thing I suppose is the £50 RRP for a set which was to make it available to everybody.