This isn’t geared toward BMX, but it’s an interesting idea! We were just checking out the Cycling Industry News website and noticed a piece they put up about the new Schwalbe Airless Tire System that caught our attention. When it comes to riding BMX, it’s inevitable that flat tires will happen; sometimes it seems almost like a curse. Over the years we’ve seen a number of ideas that have tried to eliminate the need for tubes, making it so you have one less thing to worry about when riding a bike. Most of the ideas have been outside of BMX, but we’ve seen a handful of ideas like Alienation’s tubeless tires around 2012 or so, other creative attempts at making a tubeless tire with tire sealer, the Bridgestone air-free tire idea and a few other concepts that aren’t exactly practical for BMX, but *could, hypothetically, maybe* work on a BMX bike. Unfortunately, most of these great ideas could or do work for other forms of bikes, but not for BMX due the amount of abuse a tire takes from all directions. It’s hard to get some of these ideas to actually work as well as a traditional tube.
As you can see from the photo above, Schwalbe’s Airless Tire System replaces the traditional bicycle tube with a thermoplastic polyurethane paired with an inner Airless ring. Ironically, it’s the same material that is used on Adidas BOOST running shoes, so it has a good amount of damping and flexibility that works for regular and electric bikes, which is why this idea *could* be an interesting idea that might work on BMX bikes. The reason is because it’s a softer material and it seems like a lot of riders these days are running lower PSI to absorb impacts anyway. We would also imagine that there is a way to get this material to be softer or harder depending on the riders preference, kind of like rubber durometers. So, with it working on regular bikes, it seems like it could be modified in some way to actually work with BMX tires somehow.
Being realistic… The downsides
The downside? Weight. Obviously this material weighs more than a traditional tube and, well, the weightless air it holds, which means you would see more rotational weight. That alone would be a deal breaker for a lot of riders since it not only would make your bike weigh more, but could make doing some tricks a little harder. Reducing rotational weight is why the Lunar rim, previously knowns as the Classic rim, from Flybikes has those extra holes drilled into it.
Could the perks of not having to worry about catching a flat make the additional weight worthwhile? Maybe for some of you, but there’s no doubt a majority of riders wouldn’t swing for it.
Another downside? Price. They’re giving it an €89 price tag for regular and electric bikes that they designed this for over on the Cycling Industry News website, which would be the price of about 15 tubes (depending on the price / quality of tube) for a BMX bike. We don’t believe that price includes the cost of installation, either, which requires special tools and training that shops will have to use to install this on a wheel.
Obviously this product is geared toward road and electric bikes, which isn’t a huge expense in the grand scheme of things when you get into those style of bikes, but that would be a hefty investment that probably wouldn’t pay off for a BMX bike.
One last downside that will make anyone who has blown out wheels cringe and have a possible melt down. Replacing nipples or having to build up a new wheel would be a huge hassle with this system. It’s already a pain just popping the tire and tube off. This would be even more work.
Could it work for BMX? Ehhhh…
Do we see the Schwalbe Airless Tire System being something that could be applied to BMX? Sure, it could… with some modifications. It’s just clear that the downsides of price, weight and difficulty of installation outweigh the perk of not having to switch out tubes. So, don’t expect to see anyone rolling around on a BMX bike with this technology any time soon. Either way, it’s an interesting idea to think about.
Check out the full details and more over on Cycling Industry News.
Anyone else tempted to try using a pool noodle or something, just to see if that would work instead?