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.
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.
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.