Flat bicycle tires could be a thing of the past thanks to BriTek‘s amazin Energy Return Wheel. Whereas most bike tires regulate tire firmness with air pressure, with the Energy Return Wheel one simply adjusts the tension of the rubber that is stretched around a 29-inch carbon fiber wheel.
Initially tested on cars, the airless tire is comprised of two layers of rubber – one at the center, stretched and held by adjustable rods, and the other on the outside. The space between, usually filled with air, holds a series of elastic cushions. The internal scaffolding of rods and cushions allow the tire go give and, according to Britek, react better to compression. As the internal rubber layer gets compressed by bumps from the road, the elastic potential energy stored within the wheel is returned and converted into forward momentum.
The Energy Return Wheel is still being tested (the company is considering adding thin sidewalls to the fiber rims, to keep mud and trail debris from piling up within them). Whether or not the new bike tire represents the future of everyday cycling remains to be seen.