Polaris Introducing Flat-proof “Airless” Tires

Published in the April 2013 Issue April 2013

It’s happened to all of us.

Whether it’s in the first 100 yards or 30 miles out, none of us is safe from the possibility of a popped tire … until now.

According to a FoxNews.com report by John Brandon, Polaris plans to debut a consumer version of an “airless” non-pneumatic tire (NPT) by early next year.

Made from a proprietary plastic, the NPT replaces the conventional tire carcass with a flexible web.

“The tire works very similar to a bicycle wheel, where the load is carried in tension across the top of the wheel,” Polaris spokesperson Jason Difuccia told FoxNews. “The bottom of the wheel is designed to give in to obstacles like rocks, curbs and other terrain.”

That means no punctures in the wilderness and no need to carry a tire repair kit.

The NPT was originally developed by a small Wisconsin-based startup called Resilient Technologies, which was acquired by Polaris last year.

The tire rolls over sharp rocks, poking tree branches, and harmful tree stumps without a problem, according to the FoxNews.com report. The NPT has three main components: the web structure, an outer rubber tread band and a solid inner steel rim mounted to the axle. Polaris says the open design means dirt, tree branches and gravel will shift and fall out as you ride, rather than getting stuck inside.

Preventing flats isn’t the NPT’s only advantage over conventional rubber. Polaris told FoxNews.com the airless tire absorbs impacts without the typical jarring bounce of a pneumatic tire. That means a safer, more sure-footed ride even over tough, dangerous terrain and quicker response to steering inputs.

To ensure the NPT’s ability to withstand long-term abuse, it was put through military-grade testing. Engineers shot test tires with .50-caliber rounds and then subjected them to 5,000 hours of off-roading. On another outing that involved crossing train tracks, a rail spike punctured the tread band of an NPT, but the rider kept going on it for more than 1,000 miles.

Pricing has not been announced, but Difuccia says the NPTs are all about buying the confidence that they won’t leave you stranded, according to the report.

The NPT is also quieter than a typical tire, which emanates a loud noise when used on pavement, its air-filled cavity acting almost like an amplifying speaker. With the NPT, there is barely any sound.

Polaris has yet to issue a press release on the new airless tire but we’ll stay on top of it and give you any updates as soon as we get them.

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