Why it matters to you
Air Free Concept tires want to usher in a glorious future for cyclists where punctures and flats are a distant memory.
Which cyclists would be willing to shell out for tires that can never get a puncture, never need to be inflated, and promise to never go flat? The wishful answer that Bridgestone is banking on is: All of them.
Bridgestone first demoed its prototype Air Free Concept tires in the simpler days of 2011 at the Tokyo Auto Show. At the time, the nine-inch wheels — based on a solid tire design, featuring thermoplastic-resin spokes — was still just a concept. Fortunately, in the six years between then and now, the company turned it into something more closely approximating reality — and this week we got a sneak peak.
The next-generation bicycle tires are intended to eliminate the need for traditional tires that require inflation, by using a unique (and, we presume, legally protected) array of spokes that run along the inner sides of the tires. The most obvious advantage to Air Free Concept tires is the fact that users will never be struck down with a flat tire again, nor will they need to carry a bicycle pump.
Beyond this, however, the tires are more environmentally friendly due to their efficient use of resources and Bridgestone promises that the “high flexibility for design granted by resin has also enabled proposals of next-generation bicycles which have never been seen before.”
Sadly, you will be waiting a while before you can get your hands on the Air Free Concept tires. That is because Bridgestone Corporation and Bridgestone Cycle Co. — the two companies partnering on the project — are still carrying out feasibility studies to make sure everything is hunky dory. Provided that it is, the plan is for the new tires to be available in 2019.
Hopefully, after all is said and done, blowouts, outer surface punctures, and other tire-deflating irritants will go the way of unnecessarily heavy steel frames and rock-hard leather seats. What a time to be alive!