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The Tannus Tyre Insert Armour is essentially a foam cell tyre liner that sits between tyre and tube, bolstering a tyre's puncture resistance without piling on the grams. It's available in road, gravel and mountain bike sizes where, in the latter contexts, it supposedly permits lower pressures for improved grip, while reducing the likelihood of pinch flats, rim damage and so on. So far, it's done exactly what it promises, and very unobtrusively, but fitment can prove slightly more involved than the blurb suggests.
Each insert is essentially a multi-cell foam, which is designed to sit between the tyre and tube and provide 15mm of protection to the centre strip and 2mm to the sidewalls. Tannus says these will "eliminate 90% of all punctures" and are guaranteed for 7,000km (4,350 miles). The springy material (theoretically) pushes the invading sharp out before it can nick or otherwise damage the tube.
It's not quite fit and forget. You'll still need to keep an eye on the tyre casings and tube health.
The foam's damping qualities also promise a smoother ride and should you hit that sharp with your name on it, the Tannus Armour is designed so you can ride "for a short distance" at up to 10km (6mph) without causing tyre and rim damage.
Tannus claims installing the Armour is "as quick and easy as installing a regular tyre" and cites 40 seconds. To a seasoned operative, perhaps. In practice, it's a less exact science. First up, watch the YouTube video since the instructions are slightly misleading. The foam can be trimmed to size by following the cut templates. I've not needed to do this with our 700x32 samples.
However, take care when installing them or they'll pinch the tube, causing precisely the punctures they're supposed to avoid. I needed to substitute the existing 700x32-35 tube for a slightly narrower 28-32 section.
Assuming your tubes, rim tape and tyres are in good, clean condition, give the Tyre Armour a quick dusting with baby powder, remove your tube, leave the tyre with one bead on the rim, then slip the Tyre Armour within the tyre, like you would a tube.
Take your time getting it seated, then put a little bit of air in your tube and seat that within the Tyre Armour. Finally, mount and inflate the tyre, as usual.
This required a certain amount of effort and concentration to prevent the bead rolling from the rim and pinching the tube. Tyre levers, like these from Crank Brothers, also make this process a whole heap easier.
I've been running a Schwalbe Road Cruiser up front on my fixed gear winter/trainer. It's a supple and quick-rolling commuter model, made using recycled, renewable and recyclable rubber and polymers. Though by no means poor, being a budget model, puncture resistance is much lower than the German marque's iconic Smartguard system employed in its Marathon Plus and others.
Despite some initial scepticism, I've been pretty impressed by the Tyre Armour, only noticing it in the most positive sense. I'd also heard good things from some tandem riders who reckoned they'd covered thousands of miles without a single flat.
I've run the tyre between 70 and 90psi and tackled my usual routes: wet roads and lanes littered with flints, glass and other sharps – conditions that have seen my Univega's Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Double Defense Tyres and Kenda Thorn Resistant Inner Tubes succumb.
With the Tannus in the Road Cruiser, not so much as a flat, despite these conditions and never brushing the tyre casings between bike washes. Sure enough, a few tiny flints were embedded in some slimy road grime, one leaving a tiny cut in the tread, but I've resisted my default urge to plug the hole with superglue and have done 500 trouble-free miles. I should also point out that the tube used was a bog-standard and once-patched spare.
Given the bike is based around a chromoly frame and carbon fork, and also runs a Redshift Sports Shockstop Suspension Stem, its ride quality is responsive and compliant. But the foam component added some further insulation from battle-scarred tarmac and similar low-level vibration – the sort that can become quite intrusive on long rides.
With a standard tube and Tannus insert being considerably lighter than the thorn-resistant Kenda (which, though generally pretty reliable, do add some palpable rolling resistance), acceleration is unaffected – another definite plus. Dropping the Road Cruiser to 55psi (slightly below the recommended 65psi minimum) bought some extra traction on some icy lanes without any hint of squirm or bad manners.
I also tested out Tannus's 'Run flat' claim – "If you do get a flat tyre you can still ride for a limited period at up to 6mph without damaging your wheel" – and while it may be possible to crawl home on a flat tyre, I noticed a disconcerting amount of squirm, even at 5mph, so it's definitely a last resort/desperate measures thing.
Its rrp of £29.99 isn't cheap, especially for what is essentially a foam insert, but there's not much direct competition. It's closer to something like Cushcore's single liners, designed for tubeless systems – providing puncture protection and improved ride quality – than more traditional protective strips such as Dr Sludge Protection Tape (£15 pr), Zefal Z-Liner Tyre Strip £11.90 or Panaracer's Kevlar Flat Away Puncture Protection (£14.99 per wheel).
The Cushcores retail at £79.99 apiece and are only available in the wider gravel/CX 700x33-46mm size.
Taking a wider perspective, puncture-plagued commuters might find £29.99 apiece is better-invested in a more durable tyre, such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus I mentioned earlier, rather than liner products, especially if the casings are creeping past their prime.
Ultimately, the Tannus inserts not only offer improved defence against punctures, they also deliver a more compliant ride. They're a good option for commuting/utility e-bikes, where fixing a flat can be more involved because of weight and complication. That said, I would prioritise a tyre and rim tape upgrade over these if you were running budget tyres and flatting frequently.
Effective and unobtrusive puncture-repelling liner but requires careful fitting
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tannus Tyre Insert Armour
Size tested: 700x28-32
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Tannus says, "A multi-cell foam compound that is lightweight, flexible yet incredibly durable. Aither is the culmination of 10 years of Tannus development within the tyre industry Tannus Armour is a foam insert that sits between your inner tube and tyre, providing an additional layer of protection against 4 main types of damage.
SHARP OBJECTS | SIDEWALL TEARS | RIM STRIKES | PINCH FLATS VIBRATION DAMPENING
The Armour very noticeably absorbs a huge amount of the vibration from the ground (eg. rock strikes) and dissipates the energy evenly in the tube. The result is a much smoother, quieter, more comfortable and compliant ride.
LOWER PSI - The Armours near 360° bead-to-bead, protection gives sidewall structure to the tyre, allowing us to ride at much lower pressures without the tyre deforming and becoming slow and difficult to handle.
PUNCTURE PROTECTION - Armour eliminates 90% of all punctures due to its reinforced sidewall and underside protection.
INCREASED GRIP - Run at lower pressures for increased grip in wet conditions and loose rock.
INCREASED COMFORT - Armour absorbs vibration for a smoother, more comfortable ride.
RUN FLAT - If you do get a flat tyre you can still ride for a limited period at up to 6mph without damaging your wheel.
FAST ROLLING - Engineered to minimise rolling-resistance (drag), Tannus Armour provides the ultimate balance of speed and protection."
My feelings: Effective puncture protection, with additional benefits. However, like similar products of this genre, it requires careful installation and in some instances a tyre upgrade would be better investments.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A multi-cell foam insert available 15mm thick (top section) 2mm sidewall, designed to offer protection from the most common types of punctures while offering some additional damping and theoretically permitting "limping home", in the event of a flat.
Available in 7 sizes : 20x2.0-2.5, 24x2.0-2.5, 26x1.6-1.9, 26x2.0-2.5, 700x28-32c, 700x35-40 and 700x42-47.
Rugged enough, especially considering it's essentially foam.
Offers decent puncture protection and, indeed, a more compliant ride. However, it may be possible to crawl home on a flat tyre, but having tried this experiment, I noticed a disconcerting amount of squirm, even at 5mph, so definitely a last resort/desperate measures thing.
Difficult to comment on the longer-term durability, but has proven surprisingly tolerant of being pulled around and refitted, thus far.
Its 42g (or 84g for a pair) was hardly noticeable.
Requires care to install but adds a bit of compliance/refinement to ride quality.
Competitive, relative to similar products.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Tannus. Fitting required care (to avoid pinch flatting, go a size smaller wherever possible i.e. 700x28-32, rather than a 32-35) but otherwise, it's bolstered the test tyre's less impermeable puncture-repelling belt. No issues in 500 miles, despite regular exposure to muddy, silty lanes and their embedded sharps. There's a bit of additional compliance too, another plus. That said, when run at really low pressures/flat, squirm was quite apparent, so although it might be possible to limp home without ruining the tyre, I'd only go this route in dire emergencies.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lightweight, simple and seemingly effective.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Expensive for what it is and requires careful fitting to avoid pinch flats/similar problems.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Not cheap, especially for what is essentially a foam insert. However, there's not much direct competition. It's closest to something like Cushcore's single liner (which is designed for tubeless systems) – puncture protection and improved ride quality – than more traditional protective strips such as Dr Sludge Protection Tape (£15 pr), Zefal Z-Liner Tyre Strip (£11.90) or Panaracer's Kevlar Flat Away Puncture Protection (£14.99 per wheel). The Cushcores retail at £79.99 apiece and are only available in the wider gravel/CX 700 x 33-46mm size.
Taking a wider perspective, puncture-plagued commuters might find £29.99 is better invested in a more durable tyre, such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus I mentioned earlier, rather than liner products, especially if the casings are creeping past their prime.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, but not at full rrp.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly, if they were puncture-prone and didn't want the additional heft of heavier duty tubes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Does what it promises and to a decent standard. However, requires careful fitment and some riders may find tyre upgrades a more prudent investment.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)