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Vittoria Air Liner Light is a 50g, self-inflating XC tire insert

vittoria air liner lightweight tire insert for xc downcountry and trail bikes
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At just 50g, the Vittoria Air-Liner Light is the lightest tire insert on the market, but that’s far from the most interesting feature. The design acts like a closed cell foam so it won’t absorb sealant, but it will expand when you puncture your tire, allowing it to fill the space and keep you riding.

It also supports the tire and acts like a micro suspension, enhancing ride quality and control, too. Aimed at the XC to Downcountry to Trail crowds, it’s an absolute game changer. Here’s how it works…

vittoria air liner lightweight tire insert for xc downcountry and trail bikes

The material is technically an open-cell foam, but it acts like a closed-cell foam where it matters.

However, it doesn’t immediately absorb air like a true “open” cell foam would. The barrier and construction prevent immediate pressure equalization with the tire’s air pressure. Meaning, it acts like a “closed” cell foam in that it compresses when you inflate your tire, but… give it about 8-12 hours and it will equalize, expanding back to its original shape and filling up about half of your tire’s volume.

This doesn’t really change the tire pressure that you inflate it to, but they recommend setting up your tires and dialing in your tire pressure the day before an important ride. Day-of top-ups are fine, assuming your tire didn’t leak all its air out overnight.

vittoria air liner lightweight tire insert for xc downcountry and trail bikes

The real magic happens if you puncture the tire. Because it behaves like a closed cell foam, when your tire loses pressure, the air trapped inside the insert expands to fill that space. The insert’s volume grows by up to 20% to fill the tire, essentially giving you run-flat capabilities!

Basically, it goes from this:

The Air-Liner Light inside a normally inflated mountain bike tire.

To this:

The Air-Liner Light insert expanded when the tire loses its air pressure from a puncture.

If you’re riding remotely or in the middle of a race, the Air-Liner Light could be the thing that gets you back home or across the finish line without having to stop for a repair.

They say BMC rider Juri Zalotti finished the last four laps of the 2022 XC short track at Let Gets, France, on a flat rear tire with this, and said the grip was actually better.

cutaway tire view of vittoria air-liner light tire insert during cornering

The insert also does the other things a mountain bike tire insert should do. It supports your tire during hard cornering…

cutaway tire view of vittoria air-liner light tire insert during impact

…and prevents pinch flats and rim damage on big impacts.

vittoria air liner lightweight tire insert for xc downcountry and trail bikes shown with valve stems

It has a tough waterproof coating that keeps it from absorbing moisture and sealant and protects it from scratches. Vittoria recommends latex- and ammonia-free sealants (and would prefer if you use their sealant). It’s not the end of the world if you don’t use those, but they may slightly shorten the insert’s lifespan.

Each insert runs $59.99 (per wheel) and fits rims with a 25-30mm internal channel. It’s recommended for tires ranging from 2.1″ to 2.5″ wide. Each insert comes with a 40mm Vittoria Green Multiway Tubeless valve stem that has ports at the base to allow air to get past the insert. Not so much to get past it when in-flating, but so air can get to it when de-flating. And, unfortunately, the valve stems are green, not the black ones shown here.

First Impressions of the Vittoria Air-Liner Light

mountain biker riding with vittoria air-liner light tire inserts
Action photos by Mirrormedia.art.

I rode these last fall at the Bike Connection Agency camp in Italy and they’re amazing. As in, A-MAZ-ING.

They put me on a Cannondale hardtail with 100mm Lefty fork with Agaro 29×2.35″ tires inflated to 17psi front and 17.5psi rear.

I’m 6’2″ and 195lbs dressed to ride. So I NEVER run tires with that little air pressure. On a hardtail, I’d probably be up around 23-25, depending on the conditions.

But at just 17-17.5psi, the bike rode incredibly well, with no squirm, no impacts, and no squishiness. And it wasn’t for a lack of trying:

closeup of wheels on mountain biker riding with vittoria air-liner light tire inserts

I went hunting for all the rocks and roots. The pointier and more abrupt and repetitive the better. Nothing could phase me.

Vittoria says it’s not just the protection and support that benefit the rider. They say inflating your tires with “only” air provides a very linear compression. Their original Air Liner (for more aggressive riding) is much firmer material that “ramps” up more quickly.

The Air-Liner Light has a more progressive compression, so it’s like a bit of suspension before your real suspension kicks in. Or, if you’re still on a hardtail, the lower tire pressure it allows combines with the progressive compression to provide something like a small amount of suspension.

closeup of wheels on mountain biker riding with vittoria air-liner light tire inserts

The other benefit is increased sidewall support, which keeps the tires’ shape intact during hard cornering despite the lower pressures. Combine that with improved impact protection for your rims and a reduced chance of pinch flats and it’s the perfect performance-boosting insurance for XC racers and aggressive trail riders.

I’ve just installed these on my own bike and am testing them for the long term, but my first impressions are so good that I’d recommend trying them right now.

Vittoria.com

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BIKEFX
BIKEFX
11 months ago

TIRES w integrated liners are next.

Fake Namerton
Fake Namerton
11 months ago
Reply to  BIKEFX

Since bicycle industry just copies other industries I’d wager the next gimmick will be tires with integrated adhesive sealant that never needs to be changed similar to what Hankook has developed for run flat car tires.

Jon
Jon
11 months ago

Only hesitation on these is the “waterproof coating”, if/ when that wears off will these absorb sealant or not perform as well?

William
William
11 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Do you hesitate to purchase tires because they might wear out?

Deputy Dawg
Deputy Dawg
11 months ago

These almost sound too good to be true. Coming from the dirt bike world, and nearly-impossible-to-install mousse inserts, I always swore I’d never go the insert route…..but I’m going to give these a whirl!

Collin S
Collin S
11 months ago
Reply to  Deputy Dawg

I have the last gen of these and one thing that was nice was it made it so a tire that was stubborn to seat without the liner, inflated with almost zero effort.

Greg
Greg
1 month ago
Reply to  Collin S

How many generations of the ‘Light’ are there? I have one in the back with a small leak in PA and kept banging my rim in less than 1min, so I stopped and noticed I lost about half my air. There was no way I could ride on this thing. It essentially didn’t do a thing…except cost money

Jordan Villella
Editor
11 months ago
Reply to  Deputy Dawg

I’ve been riding them for a while, too. They are easy to install (especially when you use the Vittoria tool) and ride incredibly. Just ensure you get another set of the Vittoria valve stems if you switch wheel to wheel.

FrictionDi2
FrictionDi2
11 months ago

I am so glad I got out of MTB after a bad crash. MTBs have gotten so complicated.

Fake Namerton
Fake Namerton
11 months ago

$120 for two pieces of round foam? Selling stuff to cyclists is like interrogating someone with mental defects.

Dinger
Dinger
11 months ago
Reply to  Fake Namerton

Molding tools are expensive and more so when volumes are low. You can make your own inserts out of cylindrical gasket foam (very similar to a leading European insert), which also works very well.

Ben
Ben
11 months ago

How does the insert know the difference between a puncture, and a tire change? ie – after I have one of these installed and then need to replace my tire, when I release the pressure to remove the old tire, will the insert expand, or are they reusable between tire changes?

Bnystrom
Bnystrom
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben

If you let the pressure out, they’re going to expand. That said, if you let them sit overnight – with a way for air to escape the tire – they should shrink back to their original size. That doesn’t make for convenient tire changes and I have to agree that 120 bucks for a couple of glorified pool noodles is ridiculous.

TheDoc
TheDoc
11 months ago

I’m from UK. Been running the full MTB version for 2 years. After 5k of Red/ Down hill plus 3 sets of Maxxis tyre zero issue. No loss of water proofing. These are fit and forgot giving benefits of low tyre pressures and stability. Brilliant product.

Glenn Olsen
3 months ago

Another benefit from using inserts like these is the additional support that helps prevent sidewall tear’s. Often overlooked in conversations like these….
I have Cush Core on my E bike and Tannus on my MTB, I run 2.6 tires on both bikes with 35mm I’d rims and these aren’t an option for me.
Vittoria makes a GREAT product, lightweight and very reasonably priced!

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