Airless tyres coming to motorcycles?

Bridgestone airless bicycle tyre

Airless tyres for motorcycles has come a little closer to reality with the announcement that Bridgestone is working on an airless tyre for bicycles.

Bridgestone Corporation and Bridgestone Cycle are working together to make the tyres from recyclable resin.

Bridgestone is assessing the feasibility of the tyres and hopes to have a commercial version available by 2019.

Airless motorcycle tyres would be the logical next step.

No more worrying about getting the tyre pressures right or being stranded with a puncture.

Airless tyres are not a new concept, they have been widely used in industrial and military vehicles and in 1932 English dirt-track rider Les Blackborough used a back wheel with wooden balls mounted on the rim to ‘broadside rapidly on hard surfaces’.

Polaris has also released their WV850 ATV with non-pneumatic tyres with a honeycomb interior. The puncture-proof tyres have even been tested by the US Army firing live rounds into them.

Polaris WV850 with Terrain Armor tyres
Polaris WV850 with Terrain Armor tyres

However non-pneumatic tyres are heavy, expensive and limited to slow-moving vehicles.

Several other tyre manufacturers are also working on fixing those problems and developing cheaper manufacturing processes.

Michelin has been working on their Tweel (combined tyre and wheel, geddit?) for several years, Bridgestone has developed non-pneumatic concept car and scooter tyres that are almost production ready and the latest is South Korean tyre manufacturer Hankook who seem to have cracked the high-speed problem.

Hankook airless tyre - airless motorcycle tyres
Hankook airless tyres

The iFlex is Hankook’s fifth attempt at non-pneumatic tyres and has been tested on an electric car at up to 130km/h. It is also cheaper to produce and easy to recycle.

Motorcycle versions are bound to follow.

  • Story updated from 2015.

2 Comments

  1. I can see them being available for dirt bikes within a few years as a dirt bike rides on a usually unstable surface they are less reliant on the vagaries of grip and road feel to maintain control. Pneumatic tyres have been being perfected for over a hundred years so non pneumatic have a long way to go to catchup.

  2. Absolutely look forward to the day when airless tyre/wheel combos are safe, affordable and no compromise on performance. To never had to fix a puncture on a DRZ or quad? Wonderful.

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