NASA-inspired airless bicycle tyres smash crowdfunding target

The Smart Tyre Company has borrowed technology from planetary rovers for a material that's said to have both the elasticity of rubber and the strength of titanium

Clock14:37, Sunday 17th September 2023
The Metl tyres have a wire core

© Smart Tire Company

The Metl tyres have a wire core

Two years ago, the Smart Tyre Company (STC), an Ohio-based start-up, developed an airless tyre for road bikes in partnership with NASA. The tyres used the same technology as the tyres for planetary rovers, which are said to have both the elasticity of rubber and the strength of titanium.

Now, the tyres are available to purchase via, somewhat predictably, a Kickstarter campaign. For $500, pledgers will receive two 'Metl' tyres, an 'Astronaut Glitter Sticker', and a virtual tour of the company's lab.

The new tyres are, according to STC "just like pneumatic tires", with "low rolling resistance". They achieve this by using "shape memory alloys" that conform to the shape of the ground.

View post on Instagram
 

Within each tyre is a wire coil, just like a slinky, with a rubber tread on top. This inner coil is made from a material called 'Nitinol', a lightweight, flexible, superelastic metal that "stretches like rubber, but is strong like titanium", according to STC.

"Until now, you needed to work for NASA, a high-end biomedical manufacturer, or maybe the military to find superelastic Nitinol performing its magic," read a statement from the company. "Rolling out SMA to consumer markets is a little like discovering carbon fibre for the first time, and cycling is poised to get the first benefits."

So far, the campaign has been a success. At the time of writing, it has attracted 207 backers and raised more than £86,000, already far surpassing the goal of just over £20,000. In fact, STC claims to have done that in just 18 minutes.

Given our own experience with airless tyres, it'll be intriguing to see how this new technology compares. GCN's Alex Paton explored the current crop of airless tyres recently and was far from impressed. Will this NASA-led technology be one small step in tyre technology, or a giant leap?

To learn more about the space-age wheels, see the Kickstarter campaign here.

Related Content

Link to Swytch releases budget-friendly e-bike conversion kit starting from £299
The Swytch Technology GO kit can be affixed to any pedal-powered bike

Swytch releases budget-friendly e-bike conversion kit starting from £299

Dubbed as the 'UK's most affordable, high-quality e-bike,' the Swytch GO kit has been awarded the 2024 Red Dot Design Award

Clock
Link to Castelli’s new Unlimited Pro gravel jersey features a large pocket for hydration bladders
The Castelli Unlimited Pro has a pocket for hydration bladders

Castelli’s new Unlimited Pro gravel jersey features a large pocket for hydration bladders

The Unlimited Pro combines practicality with performance for those who 'don't want to compromise anything' on gravel rides

Clock
Link to Glow-in-the-dark e-bike heads to production after smashing crowdfunding target
The glow-in-the-dark Photon e-bike

Glow-in-the-dark e-bike heads to production after smashing crowdfunding target

Superhuman Bikes to launch the Photon e-bike, with four different glow-in-the-dark colourways available

Clock
Link to McLaren unveils ‘most powerful trail-legal e-mountain bike in the world’
McLaren has unveiled its first range of e-mountain bikes

McLaren unveils ‘most powerful trail-legal e-mountain bike in the world’

Only a limited number of the new e-bikes are available, but the most powerful 600W models will only be sold in the US

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox