Two years ago, we were introduced to the innovative shape memory airless bicycle tires developed by the Smart Tire Company based in Ohio. And now, you can get your hands on these incredible Metl tires through their Kickstarter campaign.
Created in collaboration with NASA, who had previously utilized this technology for their planetary rover vehicle tires, the Metl tires are designed to never go flat. This is especially important when considering the challenges of fixing a flat tire on the Moon or Mars. While the tires are not truly airless, they are hollow and do not require pressurized air to maintain their shape.
The key component of each Metl tire is a flexible nickel-titanium alloy spring that extends around the tire, similar to a Slinky toy. This spring, known as NiTinol, possesses the strength of titanium and the elasticity of rubber. When subjected to pressure, NiTinol initially deforms but then returns to its original shape, allowing the Metl tire to provide a smooth ride like traditional pneumatic tires.
The spring is enclosed within a poly-rubber material that forms the transparent sidewalls and replaceable tread of the tire. The Smart Tire Company states that this construction uses only half the amount of rubber compared to regular tires. While the tread may need replacement every 5,000 to 8,000 miles (8,047 to 12,875 km), the main tire is expected to last the entire lifespan of the bike.
To introduce this groundbreaking technology, the Smart Tire Company offers road/gravel tire options in sizes 700 x 32c, 35c, and 38c. The 35c variant weighs approximately 450 grams (16 oz), which falls within the average weight range for comparable pneumatic tires.
While the initial version of the tire has a fixed firmness, future models may allow users to adjust the firmness by adding air. This means they will be semi-pneumatic, but they will never go completely flat.
If the Metl tires successfully reach production, a pledge of $500 will secure a set of two tires, with retreading estimated to cost around $10. Complete wheelsets featuring aluminum or carbon fiber with Metl-clad options are available for pledges of $1,300 and $2,300 respectively. Delivery of the tires is expected in June of next year.
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