Donated bikes with METL tires would be more reliable and people biking in remote areas would have more peace of mind about the durability of their ride.
Getting a flat tire on your bike can make you late, cost money to fix, and is just an overall hassle. Fortunately, flat tires may be a thing of the past as The Smart Tire Company is innovating with NASA’s designs to bring their airless titanium tires to the public.
The tires are formulated by NASA and made of Nitinol: a metal alloy made of aluminum and titanium. The unique design took time and millions of dollars to develop, but the result is a tire made of metal springs that absorb impact and bounce back to their original shape to handle tough terrain. Most metal springs lose their ability to recoil after time, but Nitinol has a more ordered atomic structure which prevents this from happening. The result is a tire that is flexible, airless, and best of all, nearly indestructible.
The Smart Tire Company has taken this same design and is using it to create their Martensite Elasticized Tubular Loading (METL) tire. The metal tire is covered in a rubber outer shell for optimal comfort and although they won’t be cheap, developers say the tires should be a one-time purchase and will likely outlast the bike itself. The company estimates the tire will be available for commercial purchase in early 2022. Although airless tires do already exist on the market, they have yet to be perfected and many designs allow for small debris to get inside their structure and throw off the balance of the wheel.
In addition to providing ease of mind for morning commuters and recreational riders, this new design could be revolutionary for areas with limited repair resources. Donated bikes with METL tires would be more reliable and people biking in remote areas would have more peace of mind about the durability of their ride.