Bridgestone has long been one of the most trusted names in the tire industry. Just about everywhere you look, you’ll find its moniker plastered across four wheels. Problem is, I can’t say how its product has changed in the last four decades. I’m sure there have been plenty of evolutions, but by and large, a tire looks the same to me.
Insert Bridgestone’s new AirFree concept that definitely stands out. Reminiscent of John Deere’s TWEEL tire that’s backed by Michelin, this design has a chance to change the game forever. Its unique use of spokes that extend from the center eliminate the need for air and hopefully signals the end of flat tires all together.
The beauty of Bridgestone’s air-free tires is that it is capable of withstanding pokes, punctures and more that would have previously sabotaged your afternoon ride. Designed to continually re-shape during use, each spin of the wheel causes the tire to adjust ever so slightly. Bridgestone claims it can maintain a consistent experience while in use.
By continuously changing shape, the air-free concept cuts down on resistance that can occur with tires that have low pressure. As well, Bridgestone is billing this as a way to curb emissions created by transportation and tire production. Avoiding a potential flat tire is certainly the biggest draw of this air-less concept. As someone who regularly rides, I can certainly speak to the desirability of this product.
So what is it made of? Well, the initial concept comes from a synthetic resin that becomes malleable when heated. That means when the rubber meets the road, your tired will have the ability to adjust to bumps along the way. When not in use, it returns to the original hardened state.
The air-free concept is derived from Bridgestone’s original idea for cars back in 2011. Its latest is primarily focused on bicycles, although it could makes its way to other product categories in the future. There’s no word on if it will be adapted for mountain bikes and other two-wheels at this time.
Bridgestone is just beginning to roll out its tire concept in testing over at its Japanese testing grounds. The initial plan is to begin testing in 2017 with a roll out to all markets in two years if all goes to plan. Obviously entering a new product into such an established product category like tires will take some time and market education. But the potential to revolutionize the industry has us very excited.