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Tubeless? Nah... These Are Airless Tires! 40

Though we're not sure how'd they'd hold up to some serious thrashing, these airless bike tires are certainly interesting. No, they aren't the cheesy solid rubber or foam tube replacements that you can buy at Walmart... countless hours of engineering and testing has been done to get the tires to the point they're at today. How amazing would it be to ditch the pump, spare tube, and patch kit from your pack, let alone always knowing your tires were ready to rock? The Energy Return Wheel (ERW) concept was originally developed for cars and has since been brought to mountain bikes by Brian Russell from Boulder, Colorado.



As shown in the photo above, tires are mounted (glued?) on top of the ERW system, which looks to be bolted to rim. It does provide some give, just like a traditional tire, and the amount of give can be adjusted depending on terrain and traction needs. Note that´╗┐ a thin sidewall will fully enclose the sides of the wheel. What you see here is a few generations into the prototype phase, and new concepts are being worked on and refined. Road and BMX prototypes are also in the works.

What do you think? Would you run it?

Credit:

Cheers to ChopMTB for the find.

bturman bturman 10/26/2012 5:11 AM

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40 comments newest first

If I lived in Arizona or in SoCal where I used to get loads of shitty thorn punctures, I'd be interested for sure. I hope it pans out with lots of tread options, durometers, widths, and most of all, lightweight wheels. Innovate or Die, right?

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Its very interesting that the MTB market has become so mainstream that any new idea or innovation is immediately scoffed by the mean populace who obviously either don't bother to read or do any further research on their own to determine wether an idea is viable or not. People, you are using and being sold 100 yr old technologies that have changed very little other than the materials used to produce them, Welcome new iterations and innovations as they will make the riding experience better. Mechanical tires, inboard self contained gearboxes, chain alternatives are all going to let you spend less time fixing and more time riding. 20 yrs ago, the closed minded scoffed disk brakes and full suspension. Wake TF up already!

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hahaha, the MTB community has always hated new ideas, not a recent development because its more "mainstream"... I have no idea why that is but its always been like that. I wouldn't be surprised if in 10 years airless tires were on every bike and tubes (or tubeless) was seen as primitive as v-brakes... although I would like to see these get really tested and not just cruised around on over rocks at 2mph... haha

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..or maybe they're just critical thinkers or demand high standards. When you're traveling 30mph through a twisty rooty bed of rocks and trees, your well-being is literally in the trust of your equipment. It needs to be dependable.

The first things that come to mind are how they'd hold up in corners and not dry conditions (yes, I read the part about the thin membrane) and on the fly adjustability.

Cool idea, but it *actually is* ok to be skeptical.

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I totally agree it's ok to be skeptical and to demand high standards - but I wish we didn't post numerous rants and concerns about things that are already addressed in the article...however, I do find the broken tire and rock in tire comments quite funny - as they were meant to be.

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Open minds people? Good grief, the write up already explains that the open sidewalls is addressed with a thin sidewall. It also mentions adjustable 'give' to imitate variable tire pressure. This could be way cool.

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It would need a complete sidewall, unless you want to get bogged down in mud

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I am ok with this, Great idea for people who freak about flats. My concern though is can you buy in different stiffness? I am not a hard pressure tire guy, love low pressure. If these tires are made so there like a tire with 35-40 psi then no, but if offered at a 20-25 psi then yes!

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this idea was originally developed for the moon rover a looooooooooooooooooooong time ago... (no atmosphere, pneumatic tires don't work)
would be interesting to make it tuneable and sealed from squirrels...

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Why wouldn't air filled tires work on the moon? I'm pretty sure the space ship that went to the moon was full of air.

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Michelin has been working on this for some time. Their system is called "Tweel".
The next step would be like Mercedes' dynamic wheel system, which alters sidewall height/wheel diameter from side to side on a single wheel for flatter cornering! Hell yeah! (Kidding - this technology exists, but I'm not seriously proposing it for bikes)

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As far as I can see they have two major drawbacks:

1. They are too rigid meaning you will loose grip.
2. Mud and dirt will fill them with the speed of light.

Not an MTB tire. At least at the moment.

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1. It does provide some give, just like a traditional tire, and the amount of give can be adjusted depending on terrain and traction needs

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How? how will it be adjustable? I read the full article and went to the website because i really would like to know Maybe they mean you can buy a different tire with different construction that allows more or less give but i certainly don't see anyway for it to have on the fly adjustability like adding or removing a few PSI. This imo is the only downside to this technology and would be a serious barrier to their entry to the mountain biking market.

PS those were Maxxis Crossmarks cut an pasted onto their tire chassis.

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I don't know how you can adjust the give, but the company claims that it is possible.. Don't ask me such hard questions. I am way too busy to break into the factory, just to steal the blueprints so that i can tell you how it works..

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The inventor of these wheels has brought every proto type into the bike shop I work at for us to try them out and give them feedback. He has a really good idea going. I think it will be extremely popular with commuters.

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I hadn't thought of that market. I think you're right. For the countless joe-bobs out there (you know, the guys who say "presto" valve) this will be an attractive feature, and I GARE-UN-TEE this will lead to more people riding their bikes. Why? Because they will never see another flat tire on a dusty bike out in the garage.

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Haha. No doubt! From the looks of the images they have some sort of thin membrane over the holes to keep stuff out. We're guessing they removed it for dramatic effect for the video.

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Also so people can stop and ask him questions when they see these wheels out and about with the goal of generating more buzz. No one would notice if they were plain-ol' boring tires, right?

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