It looks like Bridgestone is flexing its biceps at Nexo by creating airless bicycle tires that won’t go flat, even when punctured. Unlike conventional tires with an inner tube filled with air to maintain rigidity, Bridgestone’s “Air-Free Concept” wheels feature thermoplastic resin spokes to maintain shape and support the weight.
The tires are stretched around the inner rim and made completely from recycled materials, giving a ‘lil bit o’ love back to Mother Earth. The concept was centered around the idea of rider safety by removing the need to pull-off on a road shoulder to change a flat as well as to reduce CO2 emissions from portable air pumps.
While Bridgestone doesn’t state how the tires are manufactured, my guess is they use a process much like Nexo employed using resin pellets (recycled of course), which are heated and injection molded into the desired shape. Not only is the process faster than producing a conventional tire (roughly 30-minutes), it’s more cost effective with the added benefit of being more eco-friendly.
Bridgestone came up with the Air-Free Concept back in 2011 during their ‘post-modern’ artwork phase and have since looked at revising and adapting their air-free endeavor to “enable proposals of next generation bicycles which have never been seen before.” A bold claim for sure but the company states that their Air-Free Concept tires will be available in 2019, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
It will be interesting to see exactly what these tires can do, however judging from the photo releases, they don’t look like they could handle the stress and rigors of mountain biking and BMX is right out. They’re probably geared more for inner city travel, which is fun in its own right but only time will tell what they’re capable of handling.