Tires without air mean that you’ll never get a flat, and that seems like exactly the technology that off-roaders would love.
We caught up with Goodyear at a recent presentation in the Denver area to find out about its airless tires. The inside of these tires, which are still in development, is a steel ring, while reinforced plastic polymer makes up the filaments that connect the inner steel to the outer rubber. The exterior of the tire is much like a standard rubber compound you would find on any other tire.
Since these tires are so pliable at the point of contact with the road, they are also said to provide a softer ride than a standard tire with air in it as well.
And while this development is ongoing, its actually not a new idea, with airless tires have a history that dates back to the 1930s, though the modern airless tire design has been back in development since about 2008.
So why don’t we use these airless tires en masse? A few reason: high-rolling resistance, high weight and speed restrictions still limit how practical one of these airless tires will be. But in the off-road, and especially the construction world, where fuel economy and top speeds matter less, these are a great solution to make sure you never get a flat tire in a remote location.
Michelin already has an airless tire, known as the Tweel, on the market, so we’ll have to wait and see if Michelin catches up gets in the game.