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Is this the future of bicycle tyres?

Will Strickson
16 Mar 2021

Invented for use on the Moon and Mars, the SMART Tire Company's airless alloy tyres move like rubber but they don't go flat

Just when the industry is committing to tubeless tyres and riders are splashing the cash on sealant etc, there's a UFO come to spoil the party.

The SMART Tyre Company's Metl bike tyres are made from Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology (SMART) and they're completely airless.

Originally developed by NASA for missions on the Moon and Mars, these tyres are made from a lightweight, super-elastic material called NiTinol+ that SMART says makes them 'elastic like rubber yet strong like titanium'. 

SMART claims that with Metl tyres, you'd only need one set for your bike's entire lifespan. The company, founded by Survivor winner Earl Cole and blockchain engineer Brian Yennie, promises 'no leaks, tears, punctures or messy sealants'.

Dr Santo Padula, one of the inventors from NASA's Glenn Research Centre that worked alongside SMART to translate the technology into a public product, says, 'Shape memory allows look extremely promising in revolutionising the entire terrestrial tyre industry and that's just the tip of the iceberg.'

While the successful introduction of these tyres would completely change the cycling industry – and SMART insists that they increase traction and safety across road, gravel and mountain bikes – arguably the best part about Metl tyres is the reduction in rubber waste.

Over a billion tyres are discarded every year, albeit mostly from motor vehicles – SMART is developing in that area too – and tyre recycling technology isn't moving fast enough to fix that.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature put out a report in 2017 that said tyres may account for up to 28% of microplastic waste in the sea of which it estimated there was 9.5 million tonnes.

Eliminating the use of rubber tyres would drastically reduce the pollutants we put into the ocean.

To replicate the grip that rubber provides, Metl tyres are coated in Polyuerthanium, a rubber-like material that SMART says provides 'the longest-lasting tread and grip, for all weather conditions'.

SMART, which has partnered with Felt, says the tyres will be available from early 2022. For more information, visit smarttirecompany.com

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