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Thread: Airless bicycle tires

  1. #31
    Flashaholic* will's Avatar
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    I ride an old Schwinn road bide for exercise around town. I will also ride a MTN bike on ocassion on the same route. The big difference is the tires between the two, The road bike will keep rolling after you stop pedaling. The MTN bike seems to just stop, or slow down very quickly with the knobby tires. I have increased the air pressure to 75 in the MTN bike, that helps. A few years back I picked up a set of "city" tires for the MTN bike. They are basically smooth tires with an inverted tread. That made a big difference by reducing the rolling resistance of the MTN bike.

    The long and the short of it all - road bikes are fast on pavement, MTN bikes are good in the dirt. The hybrid bike tries to take a little of each.
    Now I can see the darkness .

  2. #32
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    In short, they don't work. They typically fall short
    in most (or all) of the following categories:
    - weight (too high)
    - rolling resistance (too high)
    - retention (they fall off the rim or slip around the rim)
    - ride (harsh)
    - cornering (little grip, squirming tire)
    - wet weather handling

    It sounds like you riding is way to aggressive to use them.

    I had good luck using the Mr. Tuffy tire liners, and I use to ride through a shipyard every day. It was covered with bits of metal and glass, etc

    I inhabit a bike forum and the Schwalbe are highly rated. Heavy and not very supple but very puncture resistant.
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  3. #33
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by cave dave View Post
    In short, they don't work. They typically fall short
    in most (or all) of the following categories:
    - weight (too high)
    - rolling resistance (too high)
    - retention (they fall off the rim or slip around the rim)
    - ride (harsh)
    - cornering (little grip, squirming tire)
    - wet weather handling
    Going down that list, at least with the tires I'm looking at, the areas they may fall short in are rolling resistance, ride, cornering, and wet weather handling. Weight is comparable to clinchers according to the review, and lack of retention is only caused if the you get the wrong tire size. Poor cornering is really what will be the show stopper for me even if the tires measure up everywhere else. I'm not riding regularly on tires which might be dangerous. For $55 plus shipping I'll probably give them a try when I get my new rims. Worst case, if I don't like them I'll put them on my other bike, and get regular tires, perhaps with a slime strip. You may be right. My riding style may well be too aggressive for airless tires. No way of knowing though until I try them.

    I had good luck using the Mr. Tuffy tire liners, and I use to ride through a shipyard every day. It was covered with bits of metal and glass, etc.
    I've read mixed reviews on these. Some people like you love them. Others claim they actually ruin inner tubes, increase rolling resistance, or give a very harsh ride. In fact, I've read mixed reviews on just about every product to reduce flats. I'm starting to think the only thing is to try out one thing after another until finding something that works. Lots of alternatives in this thread if the airless tires turn out to be garbage.

  4. #34

    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    I'm bumping this thread because I've starting riding a lot more lately, so I plan to give my bike a major overhaul within a month or so. First, I'll definitely be getting new wheels. I'm considering these. My main concern is that these only have 24 spokes compared to the 36 spokes I've used all my life. Is my concern warranted, or has wheel/spoke technology advanced to the point where a 24-spoke wheel can handle rough city riding? On the plus side, the 24 aero spokes instead of 36 round ones in front, plus the aero profile, should help. I plan to use my rear disc wheel cover in back as I'm doing now, so no real advantages there other than maybe lighter weight.
    The need on spoke count depends greatly on your riding style, and the weight the bike is carrying. If you're sort of a regular joe who isn't carrying a lot of weight on the bike, you're probably ok with a quality lower-count wheel if it has deep strong rims, and preferably if you have good wheel builder at least go through and hand-tension the spokes.

    If you're a heavier guy and/or you carry a lot of stuff on panniers then you could be in for some grief by riding over rough potholes too hard.

    Good luck!

  5. #35
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyeast View Post
    The need on spoke count depends greatly on your riding style, and the weight the bike is carrying. If you're sort of a regular joe who isn't carrying a lot of weight on the bike, you're probably ok with a quality lower-count wheel if it has deep strong rims, and preferably if you have good wheel builder at least go through and hand-tension the spokes.

    If you're a heavier guy and/or you carry a lot of stuff on panniers then you could be in for some grief by riding over rough potholes too hard.
    Right now I'm in the 200 pound area (trying to get down to 160-170) but never carry anything, not even an air pump or a water bottle. Hopefully I'll be OK. I don't see myself ever doing the sort of really long distance rides where I would need to carry heavy loads. Just not my cup of tea. I would however like go on somewhat further rides than I do now. The possibility of flats has actually prevented that since walking the bike 15 or 20 miles home wouldn't be very appealing, nor would I want to carry the tools to fix flats on the road. Another review of airless tires.

  6. #36
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    If you have skinny road tires, and you are riding at speed in bumpy roads, you might be getting snake bite punctures. This happens when the tire compresses all the way to the rim, and the sharp rim will pinch the tube so much that it will puncture the tube. It is called snake bite because that is what it looks like on the tube when you take it out. It will look like two puncture marks side by side. You can buy a special anti-snake bite rim that will eliminate this kind of puncture. The anti-snake bite rims have a flat area on the rim where this pinch would occur. This distributes the impact against the rim to about 10 times the area it would have been, preventing the puncture.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    ...The possibility of flats has actually prevented that since walking the bike 15 or 20 miles home wouldn't be very appealing, nor would I want to carry the tools to fix flats on the road...
    Why?

    I am a serious cyclist, and I believe this is the first time I've ever heard anyone say this, ever. A kit to fix flats is small, lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to carry.
    Steve Offiler
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  8. #38
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by soffiler View Post
    Why?

    I am a serious cyclist, and I believe this is the first time I've ever heard anyone say this, ever. A kit to fix flats is small, lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to carry.
    Since you asked...

    The kit is small enough but the air pump isn't. Nor do I have the strength in my hands to pump up the tires using a hand pump (I have carpal tunnel syndrome). Also, 95% of my flats are in back. Every time I've removed the rear tire there's problems getting everything back right (i.e. it's a 30 minute ordeal requiring more tools than a patch kit), not to mention the greasy mess dealing with the chain. On a more practical note I do a lot of riding in weather which is too cold for rubber cement to set properly. It's more problems than it's worth trying to repair flats on the road. Given that this is NYC, if it's too far to walk I can find a bus or train. Like I said, I'm not really a long distance rider anyway. The most I might want to go is 15 or 20 miles from home, even with airless tires.

    Interestingly, my brother was also excited at the possibility of decent airless tires. He said he totally gave up riding on account of flats. Unless you live in NYC you have no idea how bad the problem of flats is here. My rationale with fixing flats on the road is why bother since I might miss a piece of glass, and then flat again three blocks later. I can do a much more thorough job at home. Even doing that, I've gotten flats sometimes three times in the same day.

    Quote Originally Posted by CodeOfLight
    If you have skinny road tires, and you are riding at speed in bumpy roads, you might be getting snake bite punctures.
    I got snake bite punctures exactly twice in my life, ironically two days in a row, about two weeks ago. It was totally my fault for not seeing the potholes. The main cause of flats has been glass in the rear tire.

    Honestly, after reading two reviews so far of airless tires by serious cyclists, it seems they've improved a lot over what existed even ten years ago.

  9. #39
    Flashaholic* WNG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Perhaps you should try cyclo-cross tires....

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...Outlet%20Store

    Also, if you are upgrading your drivetrain to 10spd, you may need a compatible crankset as well, since the chain will be narrower and may not work with a 7-8 spd spacing.
    If you have a 9 spd setup, it should be OK.

    I'm an old road rider, used to ride in Queens and Manhattan, then S.I. before giving it up due to rotten roads. It was poor conditions back then, I can imagine how bad it is now.
    I managed to survive on 27x1" and 27x1 1/8" tires, and later 700x25. But punctures were a fact of life. Fixing flats become second nature and you develop a quick technique to it and keep messes to a minimum. Usually, one can patch a tube in under 15 min. It helps to have a minimum of tools, and a cleanly maintained bike.

    As for hand-pumping tires, I still have my pair of Silca frame pumps, but I don't really rely on them anymore. I carry a CO2 cartridge filling unit with me.
    It's small and sufficient enough to fill a tire to get you moving again. It'll support shrader and presta valves for road and mtb owners.

    For cities, I now firmly believe a hybrid is best suited for everyday riding.
    More rugged, and customizable to cope with the conditions. And if set up right, they aren't slow.
    Even switching a mtb's knobbies for baldies make a hell of a difference rolling wise.

    My idea of a city bike:
    A hybrid/cyclo-cross frame with V-brakes for powerful braking, 700c rims w/ 32-hole spoking (I'm old school, 16 spoke isn't going to cope with 200 lbs of rider), rolling flat resistant rubber, a 48 tooth max chainwheel, and 11 tooth min sprocket for good cruising speed, and a flat handlebar for comfort and control. Also a set a SPD pedals and SPD shoes so you can still walk normally.

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    I'm bumping this thread because I ordered the airless tires and after 14 months (!) they finally came. These are what I ordered, customized with the maximum 175 psi option. While I consider the customer service totally unsatisfactory so far I’m pretty impressed with the tires. While I’ll undoubtedly have further comments as I get more experience, here’s my take after the first ~250 miles:

    Ride quality: At first the ride seemed somewhat harsh. I literally felt every imperfection in the road. However, the tires started to feel smoother a few days later. Perhaps the material flexing broke in much as a new shoe takes time to break in before it’s comfortable. Whatever the reason, at this point the tires aren’t horribly worse than pneumatics as far as ride quality goes. On smooth roads they’re great. On potholed roads they’re rough but then so are 110 psi pneumatics. They certainly sound noisier over bumps so they may give the impression of riding much harder than they really do. I don’t find significantly more shock transmitted through the handlebars than I did with pneumatics.

    Traction: When I was putting together my bike I noticed that I could slide the front wheel on a vinyl tile floor. I attributed this to the mold release. Just as a precaution, I removed the excess material along the seam with a utility knife. This increased the traction. On the road traction is as good as any air tire, and should only get better as the tire picks up road grit. I feel perfectly safe on these tires, even riding in rush hour traffic.

    Fit and ease of mounting: The tires went on fairly easily, and perfectly fit my rims. I highly doubt the tires will roll off no matter what I do.

    Rolling resistance: Just as I noted regarding ride quality, I’d say these tires need to break in for a few hundred miles at least to realize their ultimate potential. After only about 50 miles rolling resistance decreased notably. Also note that these tires required the skewers to be tighter in order to keep the wheels from shifting over hard bumps. Prior to tightening the skewers the wheel moved enough to cause the brakes to slightly rub. I wonder how many others this happened to and they attributed the increased rolling resistance to the tire instead of the brake rubbing? Anyway, since the rims and drivetrain are new on this bike and need to be broken in, I can’t say for sure how the rolling resistance compares to pneumatics. After about 120 miles the bike was about 1.5 mph slower but a good portion of this could easily be attributable to the wheel bearings still breaking in as well as the chain/ratchet mechanism/bottom bracket still being stiff compared to my other bike. Now after 250 miles the rolling resistance seems to be even less. I really do think the airless tires have a somewhat long break-in period before they develop their minimal rolling resistance. Maybe the extra psi option does help rolling resistance considerably also compared to the stock psi. As the tires wear into the optimum shape from riding I’m sure this will help the rolling resistance even more. One thing to note which I mentioned earlier was that pneumatics more or less double in rolling resistance going from 80°F down to 40°F while the airless tires either decrease or stay the same (honestly, it seems so far they stay the same although others have said they roll better at lower speeds. Regardless, at some temperature airless tires will be as good or better than pneumatics. Although such tests are inherently difficult, I've roughly estimated the Crr of my airless tires to be in the 0.008 area. This isn't that much worse than even the best pneumatics, and right around where many touring tires are. And it's better than most MTB tires or heavy, flat-resistant tires.

    So here's the overal grading comparing to pneumatics:

    Ride quality:

    Airless: B+ (slightly harsh over smaller bumps but not overly so, no squishy feel like pneumatics)
    Pneumatics: A- (pretty smooth overall but sometimes "squishy" when you rise in the saddle)

    Traction:

    Airless: A
    Pneumatics: A

    No significant differences here

    Fit and ease of mounting:

    Airless: B+ (kind of a pain to mount but fit perfectly, must choose tire size matched to your rim width)
    Pneumatics: A- (more forgiving of rim width and usually easy to mount)

    Rolling resistance:

    Airless: B+ (somewhat to significantly more than pneumatics depending upon tire choice, high rebound material solves these problems but not available for all tire sizes)
    Pneumatics: A- (can be as low as Crr 0.004 but rolling resistance increases at low temperatures and depends upon keeping the tire properly inflated)

    Ease of use:

    Airless: A+ (no maintenance whatsoever once tire is mounted)
    Pneumatics: B (requires occasionally topping off for optimal performance)

    Flat resistance:

    Airless: A+ (by definition you can't get flats)
    Pneumatics: C (note this is based on my own personal experience, while methods exist to lessen flats they ALL increase weight or rolling resistance, and you still need to keep the tire properly inflated).

    Weight:

    Airless: A- (while my tires aren't any heavier than comparable air tires some models are)
    Pneumatics: A

    Lifespan:

    Airless: A (by most accounts the model tire I bought will last at least 8,000 miles, some with the new high-rebound material have lasted over 27,000 miles)
    Pneumatics: B (most tires last 3000 miles or less unless they have a heavy, high-rolling resistance tread)

    Rim Protection:

    Airless: B+
    Pneumatics: B+

    Despite what others have said, after 250 miles my wheels are still perfectly true and undented. However, I'll grant that over a really severe pothole I will get rim damage but then again I'll also get it with pneumatics. Hence my grade of B+ for both.

    Really, the only issues with airless tires at this point are higher rolling resistance for some models and in some cases a slightly harsher ride. They match or exceed pneumatics in every other area.

    Other than the horrid customer service there are no show stoppers to using these tires. From what I read you'll get much better customer service ordering the tires directly from the manufacturer (nu-teck.com) rather than airfreetires.com but you will pay more. I can only hope by the time these tires are worn out that there will be an even greater selection of these tires, and that the 700c narrow tires will be available in the new high-rebound material. A high pressure high-rebound tire would have less rolling resistance than most air tires.

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  12. #42
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Hi JTR - Thanks for all of the info - I have been looking at airless tires myself lately. (not for nearly as serious of riding as you do)

    My 11 year old has an old 20 x 2.xx in skyway bike that is very flat prone. Originally it was from the usual suspects - thorns mostly. I put in all of the anti flat gizmos - thick tubes, a kevlar strip (between the tire and tube) and replaced the strip protecting the tire from the spokes.

    For reasons that escape all of us, including 3 bike shops, the tube likes to shift around just enough to bend over the valve stem, literally tearing out the stem from the tube.
    We have tried a variety of tire pressures and tubes, and nothing seems to work, so in frustration / desperation, I am looking for an alternative.

    I agree completely with the idea of ditching the tire repair kit. In this case a repair means carrying around an extra tube and a pump, so an airless would be wonderful.

    I will look into the links you posted.

    Thanks


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  13. #43
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Nice tires jtr1962!

    How much do they weigh and I assume they would be suitable for really rough and slippery roads in the larger sizes?

    I do most of my training on the turbo through the winter but I have a converted hybrid that I use on the roads when the weather is bad.

  14. #44
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by TONY M View Post
    Nice tires jtr1962!

    How much do they weigh and I assume they would be suitable for really rough and slippery roads in the larger sizes?
    According to the specs about 390 grams which is about what a similarly-sized air tire and tube would weigh. I don't notice any more rotational inertia compared to air tires. Yes, the larger sizes with lower psi feel would be more suited for the rough stuff than these tires. This is especially true for those tires made with the high-rebound material. In fact, the available high-rebound tires are all in wider widths.

    I do most of my training on the turbo through the winter but I have a converted hybrid that I use on the roads when the weather is bad.
    Great idea! One thing is for sure-I'll never go back to riding on pneumatics at this point. The speed penalty associated with airless tires isn't enough to bother me all that much, and the other advantages outweigh this small disadvantage.

  15. #45
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Can you just fill them with that expanding foam Great Stuff?

    Be a funky heavy feeling...........

  16. #46
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Luckily I've had few flats in the first 30 years of biking. In the last 12 years my whole family has been going through bad inner tubes. No glass or potholes, just phantom flats. I've tried several different brands and they all have to repaired and have air added regularly. I guess things even out after a time.
    I'm absolutely certain that I need another flashlight.

  17. #47
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by jayflash View Post
    Luckily I've had few flats in the first 30 years of biking.
    You're lucky! I had my latest one last Saturday and it was a pain to repair as it was freezing LOL.
    95% of the flats I get are from thorns piercing the tire and tube.

  18. #48
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    One thing is for sure-I'll never go back to riding on pneumatics at this point. The speed penalty associated with airless tires isn't enough to bother me all that much, and the other advantages outweigh this small disadvantage.
    I like the sound of that jtr!

    Thanks

  19. #49

    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by jtr1962 View Post
    Needless to say, this is seriously cutting into my fitness regimen. I still walk a few miles a day but it isn't enough.
    You mention exercise in another post also.

    If you are riding for exercise then weight and high rolling resistance is a good thing.
    A bike is far more efficient than any other form of transportation and that is not good for exercise purposes.
    Walk a mile at 4 mph or more and then do two or three on a bike and take your pulse.
    Walking also tends to be more of a whole body exercise.

  20. #50
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Painter View Post
    You mention exercise in another post also.

    If you are riding for exercise then weight and high rolling resistance is a good thing.
    A bike is far more efficient than any other form of transportation and that is not good for exercise purposes.
    Walk a mile at 4 mph or more and then do two or three on a bike and take your pulse.
    Walking also tends to be more of a whole body exercise.
    It totally depends on how hard you are trying.
    For me as a trained cyclist my HR is highest when cycling (even higher than running). As you have gears to suit you're optimum cadance it doesn't matter if rolling resistance is high or if you are riding it on the flat or a steep hill.

    I fully agree that cycling can be very easy if you are taking it gently and that 4mph walking can be more strenous.

    I no longer use HR but it hovers at 75-85 at 4.3mph which is my cruising speed on a treadmill but I rarely train at less than 170bpm when cycling and frequently train at 185+ for 20mins or more which is where the real fun starts.

    Its just one of these things that can be easy or hard depending on what you are after.

  21. #51
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    Default Re: Airless bicycle tires

    Yes, it depends upon exactly how hard you go. I DO walk pretty fast, something like 13-14 minutes per mile, and I'm sure that gets my heart rate going. However, I'm also sure that my HR is higher when I'm cycling unless I'm stuck in traffic where I can't ride like I want to. Averaging 14 or 15 mph on roads where I often must slow or stop for obstacles means I'm getting a pretty good workout. On the plus side the slightly higher rolling resistance of the airless tires means that I'll get a slightly better workout in those situations where I'm artificially slowed down. On the minus side, it means I won't go as fast even if I'm getting the same workout. So far my best ride on the airless tires has been at an average speed of 13.6 mph. However, I haven't had any rides yet where I was really going hard and hitting little traffic the whole time. Such rides on air tires averaged in the 17 mph area. They should be around 15.5 or so with the airless tires. I'll be overjoyed if it turns out there's no speed difference at all.

    BTW, I just tried the airless tires today in wet conditions for the first time. Not intentionally, but it started raining while I was cycling and I had no choice but to ride home in the rain. Anyway, no differences at all in wet traction between these and regular pneumatic tires. In fact, I might cautiously even say the traction seemed a little better than pneumatics. And it seems like the thin film of water on the road reduced the rolling resistance a bit also. In any case so far I'm thoroughly happy with my airless tires. Only thing is to see how they hold up long term. They only seem to ride better and roll with less resistance as I pile the miles on. The only real downside to the airless tires is the company selling them. Service is hit or miss. 14 months and 6 emails is totally unsatisfactory service but there have been people getting their tires in 2 weeks. You unfortunately never know which and this is why I recommend dealing directly with the manufacturer, provided they sell the particular model tires you want.

    One other thing-cost. I paid $50 plus $5 for a custom psi plus shipping for two tires. This has since gone up to $70 plus $15 for a custom psi plus shipping. However, even at that price it's no more than decent air tires and tubes. Considering the tires last more than twice as long, it's a bargain actually.

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