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Airless Tires

Airless or non-pneumatic tires are an old idea that have continously been developed but are yet to find their way into common use outside of a few niche cases where performance takes a backseat to durability.

To be competitive with pneumatic tires, airless tires have to have similar properties in cost, rigidity, durability and weight. Rigidity in this circumstance can be considered to be its behaviour in relation to a comparable psi of a pneumatic tire. So far this has been difficult to achieve as the most simple version of the the idea, a circle of solid rubber fitted around the wheel has traditionally been durable but too rigid or acceptably rigid and not durable.

Yet airless tires are likely to become far more popular in the near future with the development of new airless tires by companies like Tannus for the road bike market. Road bike tires seem to be a perfect fit for airless tire technology since road bike tires are often operated at pressures of 100 psi+ and this means that highly rigid tires with high durability can be manufactured at a reasonable cost. The weight is also somewhat less of an issue as they take away the requirement road cyclists have of carrying an extra tube, bike pump and tire levers.

If there are developments that allow less rigid tires to be developed that have a similar durability this could cause changes to other tire markets. The advantage of passenger vehicles not having to carry spare tires and fitting equipment would be considerable.