I know there have been several posts about airless tires over the years, but I thought I could shed a little light on the subject, and see for myself what the latest and the greatest is regarding these...as I hadn't tested the market since I found some that works for me. Now, with these type tires - all CONS aside... there are SOME SERIOUS PROS - ESPECIALLY FOR EBIKES!
Warning: I am CLEARLY PRO AIRLESS TIRE! That being said, some of them SERIOUSLY are a waste of time and money, and can even be dangerous. I am going to cover basically EVERYTHING on these airless/solid tires&tubes/inserts. I think it is about time someone sets everyone, and the record - straight on these. I have put the work in, let me tell you... messing with these for years. Let me take you back, it all started with MAGIC PIE. Way back when I first learned never to hand the lady an 'ON' ebike with a twist throttle! Quite a few lessons back then!
(... a little rear heavy? hahaha)
Ever since I blew a tire on my $100 Walmart bike with a 1000w kit cheapo kit going 30mph, I thought... I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN! I am a ninja, and came out unscathed (other than tweaking back in midair so I could land on my feet), but wait, those parenthesis just made me a liar.
To make matters worse, it was like 10 times the pain to change the tire on the HEAVY, GIANT HUB with WIRES EVERYWHERE. If you have a mid drive, you are better off, but still, some mid drives require pretty extensive chain lines, that you just HATE to disturb by having to remove that rear wheel. I can talk it to death, but no one wants to change a flat.
So, I looked into solid tires, and I heard a lot of NAYSAYING. I get it, I get it, totally. I say the prices, saw the talk... saw the SPECIFIC rim fit, and all the problems, and was scared. I did what I figured was the safest bet. Buy something from Walmart, and I could always take it back. Haha! So, I grabbed a couple of "BELL - 26x1.75-1.95 solid inner tubes' for about $20 a piece. I threw some 1.95 on there, and quickly found out, they actually mean ONLY 1.75. =) Unless you want to REALLY ride a flat. None-the-less - I knew from right then and there - NO FLATS was the only way to go!
( my sweet solid rim/airless tire setup... I fell in love with airless tires!yea, took it up the mountain!
Ok, ok, I get it, the solid tires, too hard and heavy, or too soft... they roll like ****. Yeah, I heard it all. A couple of things are for sure - they are NOT RUBBER; they are NOT FILLED WITH AIR - but that does not automatically mean that they are no good ( unless you ask CHALO - OOOH!!!
About Airless Tires:
- If you are SET on rubber, they are starting to make more inserts for you to put inside your favorite tire (NOT MADE EQUALLY!)
- If you think they don't roll smooth enough - get some better suspension - OR THE RIGHT BRAND/SIZE! Actually, some of these roll VERY NICE, and I think a lot of problem with these, and the 'bad rep' is that they are not as versatile when it comes to fitting on a rim. Yes, they may 'fit' - but it needs to be 'JUST RIGHT' - IN THE GOLDILOCKS ZONE - for proper function/feel/ride/&rolling/resistance.
- They are more suitable for E-bikes than standard bicycles. E-bikes with their added weight tend to have a rougher ride given the same frame/wheelset otherwise, and also Ebikes provide additional power to 'muscle' through any slight 'softness' that may be noticed when manually pedaling on certain (mostly poorly manufactured/ill-fitted) airless tires.
- They do not always weigh more than air tube/tire combos. At least not much more, depending on the model, and many weigh less!
- They are NOT all created for the same market, OR equally. Different target rider weights, different materials: density, durability, weight, grip; different place of origin/manufacturing practices/standard/ethics. Its nice to be able to really get behind a company you use... I will say this. I have noticed some of these companies seem to pour more into advertising than their product actually being usable!
- Mostly for street, although now there are more acceptable off-road options!
Ok, so, I have rounded up a good amount of tires... I have used almost all of these over the years, but there are a couple new/missed ones I have got my hands on. A lot of these companies (like Nu-Teck) came ahead of their time, or with sub-standard product, and did not make it in the long run. A short internet history search will show plenty of problems, especially regarding a website airlesstires that was involved with many BBB complaints, part of why Nu-Teck fell under, I believe, who were the actual manufacturers.
I have spent time looking into the materials used to make these tires, the process, cost of molds, tools, re-tooling, amount of tires that can be made in life of molds.... density, in comparison to PSI ~ equivalence, etc... I have also spent a good deal of time discussing aspects with some of the people in the industry. Very interesting stuff.
I am going to list " ALL " the airless tire companies In the 2nd Post, a brief bio, my experiences with them, their product, and anything related.
I am going to list "ALL" the Tires/Tubes/Inserts I test in the 3rd Post.
Up for testing first is it is 26", and 700C... I will also include 24" very soon. The largest tires I have are 2.125 wide, and I think that up to 2.5" solid would be awesome, but after that, you may just want to go MOTO tire... which are plenty reliable. So I think after 2.5" wide (which no one even makes in the market, yet) there is no reason for this style, but from around (maybe even 1.25)1.5-2.5, they are ideal.
I am going to go ahead and 'RESERVE' the 2nd and 3rd posts for the ACTION - but let me also run the category rough draft by you guys. Feel free to comment etc... I am going ahead and posting this, so I can get some feedback, and take it into consideration before the full write-up!
PROPOSED TIRE/TUBE/INSERT REVIEW CATEGORIES:
(speaks for itself, but also value is not same as price, to be clear, I will discuss how extra hype and advertising likely only increases end price, not quality)
(place of manufacture, is the process green friendly? workers paid fair?
(easy to get? otherwise what's the point?)
4) Material - DENSITY/WATER RETENTION/GENERAL INFO
(these tire materials VARY, trust me)
- intended use? impact dispersion? tread life
(in water, in general, ‘compared to rubber’)
(uniformity in size/weight matters bigtime, and speaks volumes for manufacturing and quality control practices, also, overall weight, and relation to durability will be analyzed)
Mounting/Locking System/Actual Secureness of Fit
(tire/rim size/fit is probably the part that goes wrong here most. also, I will see how these locking systems that some companies use actually look and feel! – this isn’t only about a locking system, this is about IF the locking system works, and the pros/cons… Is it a gimmick? Does it affect the ride with the plastic pieces? Do they make noise?)
( most have something, not all equal. and are they accurate? - as far as recommended rim/size goes!)
10) Variety/Max Width
(this goes into individual company details as well, how many models they offer, and what is the max width - as many only go 1.5 or 1.75)
11) OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS - OTHERWISE - "OVERALL SECTION"
Ok, I am not going to list 'company' categories, but I did brief what I will address regarding them above.
I will leave you all with some preview photos - I am keeping the good ones secret for a surprise ending! HAHAHA =)
SPOILER ALERT: it seems the best marketed are also the poorest performance!