Airless Bicycle Tyres
Airless Bicycle Tyres – The Energy Return Wheel
9th November 2012
Are we about to see airless bicycle tyres and never ever have to worry about punctures again? Enter the Energy Return Wheel. OK, so this prototype is for mountain bikes only at present but this technology is applicable to all genres…but will it ever take off with hardcore roadies?
The secret of this tyre and why, besides the never having a puncture again bit, it would be of interest to performance minded cyclists is in the tyre’s use of springs to not only reduce the energy input needed to move the bicycle, but also to provide sprung energy to propel you forward. If these claims are correct this could be a massive performance enhancement.
So firstly, your bike basically becomes ‘sprung’ to a much greater extent than by a normal tyre and thus de-weighted requires less energy to move. But secondly, the springs are stretched rubber which apparently also creates ‘elastic potential energy’.
Rubber in the tyre is stretched via adjustable rods (allowing you to fine tune the ride qualities) and this stores the elastic potential energy turning the wheel into a ‘sling-shot’ (their term) that helps return energy back into forward motion hence the name ‘Energy Return Wheel’.
More recent updates to these prototypes have seen a sheath of thin rubber added around the whole structure to prevent objects entering the tyres.
The wheels have been used in cars to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption, which is exactly what we all seek whilst riding on our bikes.
Anything which can improve performance will be popular and if the gains are big enough then you can bet we’ll all be using them soon.
However, whilst the technology sounds good, there is an obvious hurdle for these tyres to surmount: UCI technical approval. No doubt McQuaid and his cronies will be all over this one and if the pros ain’t using it, then chances are you won’t be either.
Good luck Energy Return Wheel…
Take a look at the video here: