We're now in the age of electric cars but we're also at the cusp of another major breakthrough in automotive technology: airless tires. Thanks to Michelin and its Unique Puncture-proof Tire System (or Uptis), we might see airless tires in production vehicles in a few years – more likely on the next-generation Chevrolet Bolt.
But the folks from Driven Media in the UK didn't want to wait. So they decided to make their own set of airless tires made from materials you can typically buy from a local hardware store. More importantly, they put their creation to the test – on the track and on public applications.
To make each of the airless tires, the guys needed a 14-inch steel rim from a Ford Mondeo, 15 pieces of cut freshwater pipes, and smaller pipes that work as anti-vibration. To fasten them together, over 300 nuts and bolts were used. The overall cost? Only £300 a wheel or around $397 with the current exchange rates.
For the tests, Driven Media used a Caterham Seven as a test vehicle. Weighing around 1,764 pounds (800 kilograms), the weight on each wheel at standstill was approximately 200 kg (441 lbs) – and the DIY airless tires were able to carry that easily.
At slow speeds, the presenters said that the airless tires felt like normal ones but as they went faster, the quirks of its non-perfect circle shape became more obvious. The tires were noisy and the ride was bumpy.
However, the DIY airless tires passed important tests that made their existence valid. In a puncture test using a bed of nails, nothing happened. In road tests involving speed bumps and potholes, the tires obliged.
On the final track test with drifting involved, did the tires survive in one piece? Watch the whole video above and see what happened.