The Ohio-based Smart Tire Company is launching the first-ever bike tire made with nitinol, a shape-memory alloy made with a mix of Nickel and Titanium that’s both malleable and extremely durable.
The bike tires are branded under the METL name and have been in test for a few years before the Smart Tire Company was ready to get them to the market through an ongoing crowdfunding campaign.
The tires require no air pressure. Instead, they’re made with a structural nitinol mesh covered with an all-weather tread. Given they are not technically pneumatic tires, they are impossible to puncture, meaning that a bike mounting METL wheels could never go flat.
“Pneumatic (air-filled) tires haven’t changed much in 100 years. However, NASA has been working for decades developing new tire technologies for outer space”, said Earl Cole, CEO and co-founder of Smart Tire Company. “Our mission is to bring this space age innovation back down to earth as we usher in a new era of micro-mobility, electric, and autonomous vehicles. Safer, cleaner transportation can impact all of our lives”.
Tire innovation doesn’t come cheap, though. Cyclists who want to mount two METL tires on their bikes must pledge at least $500. It’s about 8 to 10 times the cost of a good set of regular bike tires. According to the Smart Tire Company, the cost is justified, considering these tires could technically last for decades. Retreading is expected to cost as little as $10 and would only be needed every few years. The crowdfunding campaign has already exceeded its goal, which is a good sign that the project will actually see the light. Shipments are expected to start in June 2024.