By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Cities
PumpTire may allow riders to never have to operate a bicycle pump ever again.
Throughout the course of a lifetime, an avid bicyclist can easily end up spending a little over a week pumping air into bike tires. When you really think about it, that's a lot of time that could be better devoted to hair-washing or some other equally monotonous activity.
(If you're curious, I got that figure by assuming that a bicyclist would spend about five minutes, once a week inflating tires and multiplied that by 50 years to get approximately 9 days. As with anything of this matter, it's no more than a guesstimate.)
But it no longer has to be this way, especially now that Benjamin Krempel, a San Francisco resident, has come up with an innovative tire design that may allow riders to never have to operate a bicycle pump ever again. That's because the PumpTire, as it's called, comes with a built-in self-inflating technology that automatically draws in air and pumps it into the tire while you pedal down the road.
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To create the tire, Krempel developed an inflating system using three parts, which include a tire, a small tube that clips into it, and an air valve. As outside air enters the one-way valve, it passes through the small tube or lumen (which runs along the outer circumference of the tire) and into another valve that lets air into the tire's inner tube. The genius part of the invention is that it's designed to harness the continuous rolling pressure being applied by the spinning wheel to push the collected air into the tire, a mechanism that's similar to squeezing toothpaste through a tube. And, as air is passed into the actual tire, leaving the small tube depleted, a vacuum effect kicks in, sucking in more outside air into the valve.
To prevent the tire from getting overinflated, the valve also monitors tire pressure to sense when the tire has been properly inflated, at which point it blocks air from entering. The process is allowed to start again once it detects that the pressure has dropped below a certain threshold.
For a more visual explanation from the inventor himself, check out this promotional video:
Now, the somewhat deflating news is that Krempel needs to do a little fundraising before the prototype can be sold on the mass market and has set a goal of raising at least $250,000 to get the product line rolling (no pun intended). Currently, the plan is to offer PumpTire in two flavors, a "City Cruiser" base model for those who ride simply as a hobby as well as a pressure-adjustable "City Pro" version for hardcore bicyclists who demand a higher level of performance from their tires. And just in case anyone wants to do it old school, both tires can also be inflated manually using a pump.
If funding goes through, customers can purchase a PumpTire City Cruiser for $65 dollars, while a pair City Pros will set you back $150 dollars.
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Sep 1, 2011
well this has to be great news for the bikers and the technology is simply awesome love it already. http://www.national.co.uk/branch-129-Hucknall.aspx
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I would see more use for something like this for automotive use. For bicycle use it needs to be designed to fit parallel to the rim instead of perpendicular. At low speed I do not see a problem with wobble, but at racing speeds a counterweight might solve that problem if present.
While this might catch on with casual riders, I suspect serious cyclists will stick with the older valves. These guys weren't happy with the Schrader valve, and went with the smaller Presta valve, largely because of weight.
Let me first say that I really admire the ingenuity here. But two things come to mind immediately. 1) Cost: Mid- to high-quality conventional road tires can easily run $50 and above. How much would something like this run? Does the convenience mitigate the cost? For many, the answer would probably be "no." 2) Wobble: The asymmetrical valve apparatus would cause serious wobble (or "hop") as the speed of the wheel increased. If you had one mounted front and rear, they could actually work against each other in a "push/pull" fashion. You could find some way to counter-weight it, but then you're adding even more parts. In the end, it's a matter of marketing. Those willing to drop $100 on a tire would never tolerate the extra weight and bulk. So the City Pro model is out. The City Cruiser, on the other hand, is perfect for those "hands off" bike owners (casual commuters) who typically take their bikes into the shop for every little thing. For that demographic, I could see being a practical and [sorry] "gimmicky" up-sell. Impressive proof of concept, though.
Agreed, it is very intriguing innovation and one that has some serious applications. I question the durability as well as the issues you raised. The pressure regulating apparatus looks to be ungainly but with further development can probably be reduced. This is certainly something to follow.