The bicycle has (once again) become a popular way to get around big cities. It’s cheap! It’s fast! And they’re almost fool-proof, unless, of course, you blow a tire, which more or less means you’re stuck, bar some creative solutions. Here’s Bridgestone’s: Simply get rid of the air altogether.
“Airless” tires have been around as a concept for a while, and the idea is simple: Instead of an inner tube filled with air, the tire is supported by dozens or hundreds of plastic struts. It offers a better ride, since the tire never deflates, and the spokes have enough flex to smooth out the bumpier parts of a journey. But, so far, airless tires have mostly been limited to military vehicles and the occasional ATV. Bridgestone’s plan is to get them on the road by getting them on bikes.
The idea is interesting not least because Bridgestone is hoping to get these into the Olympics, although whether the tire will be ready to be certified for the 2020 Olympics isn’t yet clear. As for the consumer version, it likely won’t be in bike shops until 2019, as the tire still needs to be studied further. But, if it works on bikes, fingers crossed that soon enough we’ll find it on cars.