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Old 10-29-08, 09:08 AM   #1
martybucs
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Airless Tires - I TOLD YOU SO...

Here's to all the people that have posted cautions about trying the airless tires and knuckle heads like myself ignore them and try airless tires anyway.

I bought some airless NuTeck tires. 700Cx35. Went on fairly easily. First rides, at slow speeds, around the neighborhood seemed good.

Commuting a couple of days on them has proven to me that they are not perfect for commuting.
Granted, I haven't had a flat and I like that piece of mind.
However, they do seem to have marked, increased rolling resistance over tube/tire combinations. Coasting downhill is about 4 mph slower than tube/tire speeds as well as more pedal effort - even on level ground.
At about 18 mph and faster the tires on my bike seem to be squirming, (like the tire doesn't want to track straight or in any direction in particular - all the time), this feels unsafe to me.

I think the tires would be great on level ground at slow speeds - like at a beach resort. "Down the shore" , in Philly lingo.

So, if you have warned people about airless tires not living up to their claims - I accept the fact that, "You told me so..."

Last edited by martybucs; 10-29-08 at 09:44 AM.
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Old 10-29-08, 09:18 AM   #2
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Don't feel bad. These companies depend on new customers like you to keep them in business. 'cause I doubt they're getting much repeat business.
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Old 10-29-08, 09:21 AM   #3
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I used airless tires 20 years ago while commuting. No complaints at all. Two friends then joined me and I couldn't keep up so I switched back to pneumatics. If speed is not a concern, they seem to work well.
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Old 10-29-08, 10:30 AM   #4
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Here is what Sheldon Brown had to say about airless tires:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
Of all the inventions that came out of the bicycle industry, probably none is as important and useful as Dr. Dunlop's pneumatic tire.

Airless tires have been obsolete for over a century, but crackpot "inventors" keep trying to bring them back. They are heavy and slow. They give a harsh ride and poor high-speed cornering on rough surfaces. They are also likely to cause wheel damage, due to their poor cushioning ability. A pneumatic tire uses all of the air in the whole tube as a shock absorber, while foam-type "airless" tires/tubes only use the air in the immediate area of impact.

. . .

Airless tires do have their applications. They can work well either where speeds are very slow, or where surfaces are very smooth. Thus, they're pretty satisfactory for wheelchairs, especially those mainly used indoors, and also for railroad trains, roller skates, furniture casters, children's riding toys and wagons.
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_aa-l.html#airless
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Old 10-29-08, 10:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ROJA View Post
Here is what Sheldon Brown had to say about airless tires:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_aa-l.html#airless
Yes, I had read that article several times when weighing my decision and had figured that maybe they had come up with something innovative since Sheldon had written that piece.

In all fairness to Nu-Teck, the tires work and they work OK. I could actually live with the tires. I'm still trying to decide whether or not, the piece of mind that comes from not getting a flat is worth the extra rolling resistance and the "feel" of the tires.

Also, I have to say, ride comfort is excellent, they are not harsh riding.

That said, the tires definitely could work out better for occasional riders and those that live in flat areas.

I don't think most commuters would be pleased with the tires, though.
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Old 10-29-08, 11:05 AM   #6
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That's what you get for ignoring Sheldon! LOL
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Old 10-29-08, 01:50 PM   #7
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That's what you get for ignoring Sheldon! LOL
It's true!

As with most things the user has to determine the suitability of the product they buy, however, I think that more disclosure could be made on the Nu-Teck website as to the possible down sides of the product for the cyclist.

I'm sure they're great on wheelbarrows.
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Old 10-29-08, 02:43 PM   #8
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You can get close to the same piece of mind using tires like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus and making sure you keep them inflated to the correct pressure. They're not flat-proof but they're pretty damn flat-resistant. They do have a harsher ride than thinner, lighter tires. But I have to believe they're a helluva lot faster and smoother than airless tires.
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Old 10-29-08, 02:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martybucs View Post
Here's to all the people that have posted cautions about trying the airless tires and knuckle heads like myself ignore them and try airless tires anyway.

I bought some airless NuTeck tires. 700Cx35. Went on fairly easily. First rides, at slow speeds, around the neighborhood seemed good.

Commuting a couple of days on them has proven to me that they are not perfect for commuting.
Granted, I haven't had a flat and I like that piece of mind.
However, they do seem to have marked, increased rolling resistance over tube/tire combinations. Coasting downhill is about 4 mph slower than tube/tire speeds as well as more pedal effort - even on level ground.
At about 18 mph and faster the tires on my bike seem to be squirming, (like the tire doesn't want to track straight or in any direction in particular - all the time), this feels unsafe to me.

I think the tires would be great on level ground at slow speeds - like at a beach resort. "Down the shore" , in Philly lingo.

So, if you have warned people about airless tires not living up to their claims - I accept the fact that, "You told me so..."

check the center of the tire. is there a seam that is raised in the center? i had that on my set and it felt just as you described.

i will say that it wore down enough so that it wasn't as noticeable as when i first got them (either that or i just adjusted my riding style - not sure).

i just didn't like the ride quality overall. it just didn't have the smooth feeling that a set of air tires have. also, i was terrified of them in the wet weather. so, i switched back - and now i'm carrying all that flat gear (patches, tube, co2, etc) *sigh*
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Old 10-29-08, 03:00 PM   #10
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Also, bicycle wheels with pneumatic tires are suspended from the tire beads, instead of having a tire operating in compression to support the wheel right at the bottom. When I was a kid, my dad got me an airless tire for the rear wheel. Surprise surprise, I had a major spoke-breakage problem from then onwards (not to mention a crummy ride).
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Old 10-29-08, 03:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martybucs View Post
It's true!

As with most things the user has to determine the suitability of the product they buy, however, I think that more disclosure could be made on the Nu-Teck website as to the possible down sides of the product for the cyclist.

I'm sure they're great on wheelbarrows.
I've very happy with the pneumatic tires on my wheelbarrow, thanks.
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Old 10-29-08, 04:12 PM   #12
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I've found wheelbarrows with pneumatic tires take bumps and can go faster with less effort under load than those with solid tires. This being from many many trips to the manure pile after cleaning horse stalls...

The info about airless tires has been very helpful in deciding whether or not to switch to airless tires for my daughter's 700 c bike rims. Decided not to go that route after seeing the prices.
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Old 10-29-08, 06:30 PM   #13
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When I was growing up, airless tires were the best. Similar plant to goatheads grew everywhere (as in if you walked across grass with flipflops on, you'd end up with a layer of them across the bottom of the flipflops)

Foam "tube" in the tire and you could ride until the tires wore out or the bike got stolen. Not sure if part of that has to do with the fact that it was a mountain bike, so there was more cushion. Or the fact it was ridden off road more, so would be more prone to flats.

I have heard that they changed something and ones my sister got broke down in the tire.
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Old 10-29-08, 07:34 PM   #14
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The guy at the LBS showed me a real nice looking tire he sold to the local bike cops. They have some extra meat in the center, he said they where very flat resistant. I will try a set when I need tires again. About $20 apiece, I would ask your LSB about such things. I don't ride far enough away from home to worry about flats I guess.

My first bike had airless tires, all I remember is they suck, but that was 1969 and I was only fourů
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Old 10-29-08, 08:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martybucs View Post
I think the tires would be great on level ground at slow speeds - like at a beach resort. "Down the shore" , in Philly lingo.
+1...

I know so many people with beach cruisers "down the shore" that don't ride their bike because they have a flat. Airless tires seem ideal for them. Most of them ride their bikes once or twice a week, if that, and performance is that last thing they're concerned about...
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Old 10-29-08, 09:11 PM   #16
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I called Nu-Teck and talked to Ron about my concerns and he told me the standard PSI rating is 90lbs and that my weight, at 220lbs, was too heavy for the tire.

On my hybrid bike, the original tires state 70lbs as the maximum fill pressure. Ron, told me that he didn't think I could ride easier on air-filled tires at 70lbs. Well, that's not worth the argument, so I let it go.

He suggested I return the tires and exchange them for a Custom PSI tire at 140lbs. PSI. They would make the tires for an even exchange, but I would have to pay all shipping and there would be no further returns.

Hmmmm. what to do?

I'm out the money for the original tires, so I could take his offer, but then, if I don't like the replacements, I'm out more money for shipping and I'm back where I started.

I think his impression is that my weight is causing the resistance by compressing the tire too much causing a forward swell to the tire shape right at the surface that has to be overcome, hence the increased roll resistance. The higher simulated psi rating is supposed to correct that situation, but I'm not sure I'm game.
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Old 10-29-08, 09:50 PM   #17
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I put a pair from Airfreetires on a EZ-1 recumbent. I took the rear one off almost immediately--it felt squirrely on turns--but I left the front one on. As a matter of fact, I recognized that tire when I saw my bike for sale at a local shop. It was stolen last summer (but that's another story).
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Old 10-30-08, 05:34 AM   #18
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My wife, who weighs in at less than 140lbs., tried my bike with the airless tires on and thought that they weren't so bad. We went up a hill and she noticed a bit more rolling resistance and then on a long steep descent the bike wouldn't coast past 20 mph.

So, she didn't notice as much rolling resistance as I did, but she did say they seemed slower.

I did think the ride was OK, in fact, better than air-filled tires, but if I take the offer and return for a higher psi tire, I'm wondering how harsh that ride would be.
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Old 10-30-08, 05:44 AM   #19
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I can think of one application where I might use them.

"Wussy" commutes.

If you have a 5 mile ride to work, you might not mind trading a bit of efficiency for the peace of ind that comes with knowing you won't be late due to a flat.

My commute is 12 miles in, 15 coming home, with a 12 hr work day stuffed in between. So, I'll take all the efficiency I can get even if it means risking the occasional flat.
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Old 10-30-08, 05:54 AM   #20
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My question is: Are flats that big of a problem to fix? I get maybe two flats a year. They generally get a slow leak and go flat overnight in the garage, rather than while I am riding. I probably get a flat while actually riding on the road about once every two years. It takes maybe 10 minutes to fix a flat. So what's the big deal? My pneumatic tires give me a fast, light comfortable ride with a minimal amount of effort and maintenance. It is very hilly where I live, and I have no interest in tires that would make it harder to climb, and make my bike heavier and slower.

I am convinced that many of the people who are plagued by flats are guilty of some or all of the following bad habits:
-- Running their tires at pressures that are too low (or high). Ideally, you should pump your tires before every ride.
-- Riding in the gravel, glass and other crap near the edge of the road rather than taking the lane.
-- Trying to squeeze extra miles out of worn-out tires that are thin or showing threads.
-- Buying cheap tires and tubes.
-- Using racing tires for training and commuting rather than more appropriate tires.
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Old 10-30-08, 07:18 AM   #21
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I commute over 100 miles in a week, and can run cheap wal-mart tubes in my Kenda tires and almost never have a flat UNLESS it's sticker/goathead season here in western Oklahoma.......... Recommended maximum tire pressure is 50-75 psi. I usually run over 100 psi without worries.
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Old 10-30-08, 07:25 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trekker pete View Post
I can think of one application where I might use them.

"Wussy" commutes.

If you have a 5 mile ride to work, you might not mind trading a bit of efficiency for the peace of ind that comes with knowing you won't be late due to a flat.

My commute is 12 miles in, 15 coming home, with a 12 hr work day stuffed in between. So, I'll take all the efficiency I can get even if it means risking the occasional flat.
never will I use something inefficient on my 5 mile commute. Stop riding in the gutter if you are getting flats or change your tires more often.

besides changing a tire is less than 5 minutes
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Old 10-30-08, 07:45 AM   #23
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Re: Airless Tires - I TOLD YOU SO...

Quote:
Originally Posted by martybucs View Post
Here's to all the people that have posted cautions about trying the airless tires and knuckle heads like myself ignore them and try airless tires anyway.

I bought some airless NuTeck tires. 700Cx35. Went on fairly easily. First rides, at slow speeds, around the neighborhood seemed good.

Commuting a couple of days on them has proven to me that they are not perfect for commuting.
Granted, I haven't had a flat and I like that piece of mind.
However, they do seem to have marked, increased rolling resistance over tube/tire combinations. Coasting downhill is about 4 mph slower than tube/tire speeds as well as more pedal effort - even on level ground.
At about 18 mph and faster the tires on my bike seem to be squirming, (like the tire doesn't want to track straight or in any direction in particular - all the time), this feels unsafe to me.

I think the tires would be great on level ground at slow speeds - like at a beach resort. "Down the shore" , in Philly lingo.

So, if you have warned people about airless tires not living up to their claims - I accept the fact that, "You told me so..."
I have used airless tires, on several different bikes, for about 8 years.

It is extremely important to have the tire fit the rim VERY snugly, as you only get one shot at this, since you can't add any air.

Most people do not understand much about how to measure things and also get confused by Metric measurements. This is why many people end up with a less than satisfactory experience with these tires.

I have been car-free, since retiring over 4 years ago and, although I have several bike with pneumatic tires, the ones I ride most frequently have airless from airfreetires.com

http://s211.photobucket.com/albums/b...rent=Ugly1.jpg
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Old 10-30-08, 07:47 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
My question is: Are flats that big of a problem to fix? I get maybe two flats a year. They generally get a slow leak and go flat overnight in the garage, rather than while I am riding. I probably get a flat while actually riding on the road about once every two years. It takes maybe 10 minutes to fix a flat. So what's the big deal? My pneumatic tires give me a fast, light comfortable ride with a minimal amount of effort and maintenance. It is very hilly where I live, and I have no interest in tires that would make it harder to climb, and make my bike heavier and slower.

I am convinced that many of the people who are plagued by flats are guilty of some or all of the following bad habits:
-- Running their tires at pressures that are too low (or high). Ideally, you should pump your tires before every ride.
-- Riding in the gravel, glass and other crap near the edge of the road rather than taking the lane.
-- Trying to squeeze extra miles out of worn-out tires that are thin or showing threads.
-- Buying cheap tires and tubes.
-- Using racing tires for training and commuting rather than more appropriate tires.
You don't live in goathead country do you?
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Old 10-30-08, 08:08 AM   #25
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i think flats suck big time. i hate being on the side of a road working on my bike.

airless tires, obviously, solve that problem. it's also nice to not have to carry any extra equipment (tubes, pump, co2, etc.).

however, those advantages do not outweigh (IMHO) the discomfort, weird handling, and sketchy wet weather performance i've experienced.

if airless tires can truly be made to ride like air tires, i would buy them in a heartbeat. maybe another generation or two and they'll be ready... who knows.
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