Say goodbye to your bike pump. Bicycle tires of the future may not require air at all.
Colorado-based company Britek Tire and Rubber has recently unveiled their Energy Return Wheel for bikes, an airless bicycle tire that promises a completely puncture-free ride.
The firm has already been working on an automobile-version of the tires, which Britek says will eliminate flats, boost fuel efficiency and improve the car’s performance. Each wheel consists of a flexible rubber center that’s held in place by adjustable rods. The outside of each tire is covered by a rubber tread while a series of elastic cushions fill the space in between, allowing the tire to give to bumps on the road.
The bike version of the tire relies on a similar concept but uses lightweight carbon fiber rims with openings along the sides. In the place of air pressure adjustments, bikers can tweak the rubber-tensioning rods to make their wheels harder or softer. The tires’ designers are also considering adding thin sidewalls to the wheels to insure that they won’t get inundated with roadside mud and debris.
Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen airless tires. As SmartPlanet’s Andrew Nusca reported last year, Bridgestone debuted its own version this past December, Michelin introduced its Tweel non-pneumatic tires in 2006 and the military uses the puncture-free products all the time in harsh environments.
Images: Britek Tire and Rubber