Bridgestone's airless bicycle tires could not only make the hand air pump disappear, and it would definitely shake up the automobile tire market as well. Bridgestone Co. together with Bridgestone Cycle Co., Ltd., just recently unveiled a next-generation bicycle tire that could make the Air Free Concept a reality.
The "Air Free Concept" is a new technology that will end the need for tires to be inflated with air to support the weight, via a unique structure of spokes that stretches along the inner sides of the bicycle's tires. In addition, the resins that are used in the spokes and rubbers will help realize the more efficient use of resources.
"In 2013, Bridgestone revealed its second generation air-free concept non-pneumatic tire featuring improved load-bearing capabilities, environmental design, and driving performance," said the Bridgestone website. "However, there are developments and enhancements to be made before airless tires are available for consumers."
Bridgestone's first non-pneumatic tire was first introduced way back in 2013 at the Tokyo Motor Show, with the concept mentioned above to improve its load-bearing capabilities, environmental design, and driving performance. The company also said that the materials used in the tires are all recyclable, contributing to the efficient use of resources.
No part of a non-pneumatic tire will ever go to the garbage, which apparently goes hand-in-hand with the company's effort to develop a cradle-to-cradle system in which all tires will be first recycled, and then the factory will make it into brand new tires.
But, fast-forward to 2017, there is still no mass-produced airless tires, which means the good old 100-years-into-development regular inflatable tire is still the easiest way to drive down the road. Furthermore, the bicycle industry might be better convenient to first use this new technology since its lower production, and less stressful forces are being applied to the wheels compared to the automotive industry.
Bridgestone originally introduced its airless tire concept in 2011 and then followed by a second generation 2 years after. Bridgestone's airless bicycle tires will be finally ready for mass-market but it's not for the cars, and it won't be ready for another two years.