Thinking Tech

Innovative bike tire can inflate itself

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.

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.

(via CNET, Kickstarter)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure