Airless Tires Are Starting to Look Like a Functional Option
The basic formula for a tire has not changed much in the last 100 years. Of course, in that time we’ve had a few improvements in areas such as tread wear, safety, and grip. However, there hasn’t been any real quantum leap forward. Now, though, we may finally be creeping our way into the next evolution thanks to the “airless” tire. For those who aren’t up to date on tire technology, airless tires are exactly what the name implies—airless. The tire actually uses a honeycomb structure to provide rigidity to the outward tread pattern. Airless tires were principally designed to reduce the number of punctures a tire would get during the course of its life. Think of them as the ultimate run-flat tire, but being airless, it can never go flat. RELATED: Soon You Can Shred Your Tires and Then Wear Them, Too
Airless tires have actually been around for quite some time. That said, the tires have almost exclusively been used for heavy machinery. It has never made its way to consumer vehicles such as road going cars. With that though, the potential benefits of an airless tire have caught the eyes of major tire manufacturers across the globe with Michelin, Bridgestone, and now Hankook all creating airless tire concepts.
While Michelin’s and Bridgestone’s tires aim to only solve punctures as well as increasing the life of the tire, Hankook has a far loftier set of goals with the company’s new iFlex. Hankook states that the iFlex will not only solve the problem of tire punctures, but that it would be easier to produce only requiring half the manufacturing effort a normal tire requires, and is more environmental due to the increased use of recycled materials and recyclability of the airless tire.
RELATED: Here’s a closer look at Performance Tires
Currently though, the iFlex, as well as Michelin’s and Bridgestone’s airless tires are all still concepts. And none of the companies have stated that the tires will be brought to production. Although, since as acknowledged above, the last tire revolution was some time ago. Isn’t it finally time to bring the tire into this century?
RELATED: Watch Tanner Foust destroy many sets of tires in his 900hp Formula D Passat