Its an all-too familiar scenario: You’re driving along (inevitably in the pouring rain) when all of a sudden your car starts veering from its intended path, and the cabin fills with the soft phut-phut-phut of rubber slapping onto tarmac. It can only mean one thing – you’ve got a flat tyre.
Thankfully, tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has come up with a new innovation that could see the end of changing a wheel on a dark hard shoulder – a new airless tyre that the company claims is completely resistant to punctures.
Rather than relying on air to give the tyre its structure, the new design utilises a mesh of resin spokes, running along its inner sides, which give the same rigidity and bump absorption as a regular tyre. However, unlike air, the spokes can’t simply escape when the wheel is struck with nails, glass and all the other detritus that litters our roads.
Though currently still in development, the new tyre design would be a big improvement over the current next best thing, the run-flat tyre. Run-flats are essentially conventional tyres, but with re-enforced sidewalls that allow the car to be driven up to a limited distance at reduced speeds once the air has escaped.
However, the chief downside of run-flats is that their lack of pliancy results in a very hard ride, something that the airless design would do away with.
Aside from the obvious benefits of not having to change a flat tyre, Bridgestone claims the new rubber will be lighter, which will in turn improve a car’s fuel efficiency.
The resin used in their construction is also 100 per cent recyclable too, meaning spent tyres won’t end up in landfill sites – something which is currently a significant environmental concern.
December 13, 2013