The idea developed by NASA for airless tires and memory has been developed by a company and will move from science fiction to more advanced e-bike wheels.
Two years of work bore fruit for the future. In particular, the future of two-wheeled mobility, sustainable yes but also incredibly technological. Far from happy degrowth, in fact the American company Smart Tire Company, based in Ohio, has developed shape memory bicycle tires. From all this work they were born Metl Frames are now available on Kickstarter.
When we talk about Smart Tire Company we’re talking about Brian Yenny and Earl Cole who started a few years ago with the concept that NASA uses to build tires and wheels for all the vehicles they launch into space. From this work emerged Mitel that does not need amplification. But above all they use technology Shape memoryIt is a memory of form. That is, they are made of a smart material capable of modifying dimensions, shape, rigidity and deformation in response to various external stimuli (heat, electric and magnetic fields, water or light). Including physiological ones such as pH, body temperature and ion concentration.
E-bike tires are airless, but with air
We now need to provide clarification about the concept of air. In fact, these “never leak” tires were created in collaboration with NASA, which has already applied the same technology to the tires of its planetary rovers. But they are not literally airless, in fact they are hollow, so they contain air, which is simply not compressed, nor is it necessary for the tire to maintain its shape. In the center of each Metl frame is a Slinky-like spring that extends all the way around the frame. This spring is made of a shape memory nickel-titanium alloy known as NiTinol. Smart Tire described the same thing: “Resistant as titanium but also as flexible as rubber.”
Possible infinite frame
According to the company, this setup only includes half the rubber of a regular tire. Furthermore, the tread may need to be replaced approximately every 8,000-12,000 kilometres. In short, the mainframe is expected to last the life of the bike.
For this commercial introduction of this technology, Smart Tire offers road/dirt tires in 700 x 32c, 35c and 38c sizes. The 35c model is expected to weigh 450 grams, about half the weight of traditional competitors. Additionally, the company says that while this first version of the tire will have a fixed stiffness, future models may allow users to increase the stiffness by pumping in more air. So it will be semi-airy, but it won’t be completely flat.
How much metal
Assuming that production of these eBike frames will be achieved since the investment required on the Kickstarter platform has already been exceeded. The buyer needs to spend around 450 Euros to get the set of two frames. If you want to buy the complete wheels covered in aluminum or carbon fiber, you will have to spend 1,200 or 2,200 euros respectively. On the other hand, we are talking about space technology and therefore prices. Metl tire shipments will begin in June 2024.
Other e-bike technologies
But there are also other technological innovations that have recently appeared on e-bikes. For example Urtopia has integrated ChatGPT by OpenAI. Thanks to this innovation, the e-bike has truly become a means of transportation Smart and responsive, able to provide a series of advanced services and features. Urtopia’s control system has been completely upgraded Developed and integrated with ChatGPT.
Not to mention the Pi-Pop, the first battery-free e-bike. Yes, because this French bike uses a supercapacitor that stores pedaling energy and releases it when needed.
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