According to Covestro, the warmer weather and more relaxed corona restrictions are drawing people outside – and more and more of them onto their bikes. There are plenty of reasons for this: exercise and fitness, fresh air and the opportunity to get out of the house or to avoid having to wear masks on public transport. Going shopping by bike or exploring one’s surroundings could be a joy if it weren’t for the many stones, shards of glass, nails and other sharp objects that will turn a perfectly good tyre into a flat mess, said the company.
The Taiwanese company Air Fom is now offering a patented solution for airless tyres that overcomes the drawbacks of previous airless products. It is based on an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (eTPU) from Covestro. Solid rubber tyres have been on the market for quite a while now, but just like earlier puncture-proof products, they have their shortcomings: they do not produce the typically light driving feel of their air-filled counterparts, are often real heavyweights and, moreover, are very expensive. Today’s bicycles often have highly complex superstructures, such as sports bikes with multi-speed transmissions or e-bikes. Their assembly therefore requires time and some skill – a true nightmare for bicycle rental companies. Moreover, the plastics that have been used up to now are often not recyclable and therefore do not represent a permanent solution, said Covestro.
Air Fom is now using a special technology combined with an innovative material. With the help of particle foam casting, expanded TPU is moulded into the specified shape and exhibits precisely the desired properties on the rim. The tyre insert is said to be just as lightweight and elastic as an air-filled tyre, can be fitted quickly and firmly on standard rims, is maintenance-free and, most importantly, recyclable – unlike the butyl rubber tubes that are used in conventional tyres. The material solution can also benefit bicycle rental companies for whom a constant operational readiness of their vehicles is important. The independent ACT Lab LLC confirmed that the product meets the latest safety requirements for use in bicycles. For its innovative development, Air Fom was recently awarded the Gold Medal of the prestigious Edison Award in the Transportation/Personal Mobility category.