Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Airless Tires and a Note on Social Media

   A company called Energy Return has been playing with an airless tire for a mountain bike. Pretty awesome when I consider how much time I spend changing and pumping up tires! I want my hours back!

This isn't really new technology. The first thing I thought of when I read about this was flat free tires for construction equipment. Here is a airless tire on a Caterpillar Skid Steer:

Crocodile Airless Tires
   These tires are also available for cars, to some extent:

Fitted on a Hummer

   This company has started working on putting them on a bicycle. Here's a shot from their site:

Skidding it out!

   The idea seems pretty cool. Lighter than a standard tube and tire, no chance of getting a flat. The almost unanimous question from every comment thread it, "What if they get caked with mud?" A valid concern, but the Energy Return people are apparently working on a slick coating for the tire that will shed mud more easily. Here's another close up also from their site:

   The Energy Return company has a video on Youtube showing off the tires. The camera work is a bit overdone, but the idea seems solid. They have a bunch more videos on their Youtube page, including a teaser at a road tire.
   One thing I noticed is that there are some snarky responses from the Energy Return people to the Youtube comments:

"Just asking...How many products have you brought to market?" - Energy Return

   I don't know who their online media marketing person is, but it seems like a good rule that you don't get into a pissing match with some nameless person on the internet when you're representing a start up. So we'll give tem  +1 for cool product, and -1 for some a-hole working the YouTube account. But maybe it's just YouTube that turns you into an a-hole.

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