If you’ve ever had a flat tire when biking, then you’ve probably experienced the unique torture that goes into fixing it. Disengage the brakes, get bike grease everywhere, bust up your fingertips trying to get the tube out of the tire, get more grease everywhere, etc. Thankfully, the good people at Bridgestone have stepped forward to say “never again” with their totally genius, air-free bicycle tires.
Theses psychedelic looking contraptions use spokes stretching along the inner sides of tires to maintain weight, rather than a tube of inflated air. The company claims the thermoplastic resins that are used in the spokes and rubbers “help realize more efficient use of resources.” The tires require less maintenance, and the fear of a puncture completely vanishes.
The concept of “air-free” tires isn’t new. The Tokyo-based tire company has been playing around with the idea since 2013, when it unveiled its first air-free concept for tiny, smart-car sized vehicles. It was a bid to reduce the need for drivers to pull to the side of the road to fix flat tires, as well as reduce CO2 emissions and create a more sustainable drive.
Is there a down side to air free tires? I’m not sure, because I haven’t had the chance to try out Bridgestone’s concept. Would they be able to handle the cracks and potholes of a city street? Or the rocks and tree roots of a mountain bike path?
And the other big question — how much will these things cost? — will have to be left hanging because Bridgestone has yet to start selling its air-free tires, neither for vehicles nor bikes. The company has patented the technology, but won’t say when it will start offering them to all those beleaguered, grease covered bike-owners. Hopefully soon. I’ve got a Schwinn with two flats in my basement that’s crying out for a pair of these.