Future Of Driving

Who Needs A Bike Pump? Bridgestone Is Unveiling Eco-Friendly Airless Bike Tires

One of the biggest annoyances of riding a bike—next to oblivious drivers and sudden downpours—is the threat of flat tires. Tokyo-based tire company Bridgestone has set out to save cyclists from this headache by introducing a new bike tire design that doesn't use air at all, taking pressure, punctures, and flat tires out of the equation.

Bridgestone's next-generation bicycle tire.

Nails Are No Object

Bridgestone first introduced its airless tire concept in 2011, though it was originally designed for cars. While airless car tires are still on the agenda, issues with debris getting trapped in the spokes and distributing the weight of a full-size automobile have put a damper on the project—only military vehicles and ATVs, whose most vulnerable components are their tires, have adopted airless versions thus far. Since they're light and resilient, bicycles may be the perfect solution for Bridgestone's design, which could be why the company plans to have bicycle versions ready for purchase by 2019.

The tires replace the shock absorption of an air-filled tube with an intricate thermoplastic resin spoke system. This technology not only prevents punctures when rolling over objects on the road, but it also makes less work for the cyclist by reducing the resistance caused by tires continuously changing shape as they roll. That's all before you consider the obvious: you'd never have to adjust the tire pressure, and you'd never be left stranded with a flat.

Beyond improved load-bearing capabilities and riding performance, these non-pneumatic tires are also eco-conscious, since they're made entirely out of sustainable materials. Once you've worn them out, they're easily recycled and can be factory-refashioned into new tires.

Bridgestone Corporation and Bridgestone Cycle adapted the “Air Free Concept” to develop bicycle tires without punctures.

They See Me Rollin'

Bridgestone's 2019 release date is no accident—it's timed to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. There's no knowing whether they'll be approved for official use in time, or even if they'll give elite cyclists a leg up in a sport where every extra ounce is a hindrance. Even if they don't make it to the Olympic games, though, they could definitely be a boon to cyclists—and the environment. And, perhaps one day, motorists too.

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Written by Sam Suarez May 9, 2017

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