Cycling, Journal

Air Free Tires

Air Free Tires

My Air Free Tires finally arrived at the house today. I ordered them on July 18th and it took some time to get here. “Better late than never,” I thought as I cracked open the box. I’ve been looking forward these solid tires after having suffered through several flats during and following the Death Ride. Felix has been using Air Free Tires on his commuter bike with some success, so I said, “Why not?” I won’t have to worry about flats anymore with them, which means no more carrying tubes, tire irons, and bike pumps. I paid $50 for a pair of Daytona TT Air Free Tires. They have an effective 120 psi rating. The cost of the tires are cheaper than a pair of Michelin Pro Race tires with tubes.

Installation was fairly easy, though I did need another person’s help to hold the wheel while I pull the rest of the tire onto the rim. The 700-20 Daytona TT Air Free Tires snapped into place onto my aging Mavic Helium wheelset. I noticed that, with some effort, I could peel the tire off of the rim. I was somewhat concerned that a fast descent or sharp cornering might cause an accident with these tires. There’s no way to find out except by testing, so I went off for a 30-mile ride up Highway 9 in Saratoga. It was about seven miles from my house to the base of the climb. One of the first things that I noticed was a perceived sense of increased rolling resistance. It could have been that Saratoga Avenue heading west is ever so slightly inclined, or it could have been the tires. I felt like at a given gear, I had to pedal harder to go at a reasonable speed. Then again, it also could be my couch potato lifestyle since finishing the Death Ride!

The climb up Highway 9 was as painful as ever. My heart rate was in the mid-180s throughout the entire climb, and I averaged about 6.5 mph. I finished the ascent in under 55 minutes. My rear derailleur has been bugging me since the Death Ride. It won’t go into the easiest gear, which meant I was primarily using the 34-23. Having the 34-25 probably would have made me go slower, but it would have been just a bit more comfortable on the knees.

As for the descent, my concerns about the tires peeling off were allayed as I descended at 30+ mph. I wasn’t a maniac like on the frontside of Ebbets Pass, but I wasn’t purposefully holding back either. The bike felt pretty stable throughout the whole descent. My top speed going down Highway 9 was about 43 mph. This was the first time that I’ve ridden the climb with a working cyclometer, so I unfortunately do not have a reference point for my clincher tires.

Since the ride back home was slightly downhill, I was averaging around 21 mph. I still felt like I was going slower than normal. Again, it could have been fitness or the tires. I’ll have more to say after a few more rides. My initial impressions with the Air Free Tires are encouraging, however. I’m certainly no racer, so even if the tires have a slight negative impact on my top end riding speed, I won’t mind too much. If I feel the need for speed, I can always put my Michelin Pro Races back on.

On a side note, on the way back home, someone in a car threw a plastic bottle at me! I have no idea why they would do that, but come on… that’s really juvenile!

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12 thoughts on “Air Free Tires

  1. Glad you received the tires, Adam, and thanks for the review. I was especially interested to see how you liked the TT (120 psi-equivalent) versions of the tires (I have the HP, or 90 psi-equivalent). I’ve noticed (or at least believed) that in the summer my tires seem softer than in the winter, no doubt due to the temperature effects on the durometer of the tire. Therefore in hindsight I think I probably should have gotten the TTs. How is the ride quality of yours?

    I just went into the garage and tried to see if I could peel the tires off with my fingers. With a lot of effort, I could do so but I had to apply a force in a direction/manner that would never occur when cycling. This is because to unseat the tire, a force would have to applied to the tire in a direction away from the hub, whereas when riding or cornering, the road is exerting a force on the tire towards the hub.

    Indeed, after riding my airless tires for >300 miles and increasingly getting more and more bold in corner,s or while jumping curbs and riding off-pavement, I have complete confidence the tires would not roll off.

  2. Oh, agreed about the someone throwing a plastic bottle at you is pretty juvenile. I’ve had stuff thrown at me twice in my life, once in my first MG (this was in Stockton, no surprise) and once when riding my bike in Newark, CA. The MG incident involved kids throwing wads of paper out a school bus at me — pretty retarded. The second incident, I was just riding along, when — BAM! — a water balloon hit me right in my thigh! I could only shake my head and laugh at that one… frickin’ kids…

  3. Raymond says:

    Hello Adam,

    In July 2007 I ordered a Catalina Freestyle tire and never got it. Air Free Tires did put the blame on the manufacturer (whoever it was), Customs (I’m from Canada) but never on themselves.

    Air Free Tires stopped responding to my emails in November making my story look a lot like so many more on this page: http://felixwong.com/2006/12/air-free-tires/. I can only agree with those who are saying to stay away from this company. Thanks for your time.

    Regards,

    Raymond

  4. Ed says:

    It took me SIX MONTHS to get the single tire I ordered from Air Free Tires!!!

    And THEN it wasn’t anywhere NEAR the firmness of 90 psi (closer to 30 psi equivalent)! I will NEVER order from that outfit again!!!

    They blamed the factory for the delay, but I suspect that they delayed turning the order in (probably due to poor money management). The factory is Nu_Tech (from whom I’ve ordered another tire); they have a perfect BBB record, and promise to deliver my tire in about three weeks.

  5. Here’s a copy of the latest message to Airfee. As far as I’m concerned the whole operation is a rip off and the Federal attorney General should investigate under the RICO Act.
    At 64 years of age, I should live long enough to see this settled ;-)

    My re-order arrived today! My original order (transaction 1782092714, Cust. ID 6445, invoice #6950 ordered 28 Mar 2008) was paid to the amount of $114.92 (including shipping). My re-order (order#100423, cust ID 59998, invoice #6950) was for $90.07 (including shipping). The difference is $24.85 that you at Airfree owe me. Please send check or money order to cover the amount that you need to refund me. I have copies of all our email correspondence if you do not have records. Thank you, David Platt 40505 SE HWY 224 #10 Estacada, OR 97023 503-630-2966

  6. Shazam says:

    DO NOT order from Air Free at all! I was referred to them and waited 3 months for my tires. As I called to dispute the charge with the credit Co, I soon found out after that Air free has not paid their manufacturer in MONTHS! Go to Nu-Tek and order direct from them instead. Prett shady way of doing business, take the customer’s money, then don’t pay the manuf?!?!? WTF!!!!

  7. MIchael says:

    DO NOT DEAL WITH Air free tires. They have had my money for over 12 months now, dont respond to BBB requests and keep blaming NU-Tek for the delay, which I believe is a total lie. They even directed me to a website with what they claim is a letter from NU-Tek, I contacted Nu-tek and they told me they didnt write the letter.

    They take your money and dont refund or deliver, STAY AWAY from them.

  8. Wadhamite says:

    Unfortunately, the experiences noted are common. I had a close call with Air Free Tires in 2008, and Chase Bank got my money returned through MasterCard when they failed to deliver. I have done fine ordering directly from Amerityre and from Nu-Teck. I have also used solid tubes from American Horse and Carriage; I like putting them inside of studded tires for winter which I purchase from Bike Tires Direct.

    With so many honest and conscientious Internet suppliers out there, Air Free Tires probably won’t survive. Good riddance.

  9. Larry says:

    Do NOT order anything from Air Free Tires.

    Either they are a defunct business, or they are running a scam.

    I placed an order for airfree tires and was billed for over $90. More than a year later,
    I still have nothing.

    At first, they stalled by pretending to respond to my emails, and just playing dumb.
    Months went by, and the most I ever got was “we’ll look into it”. Finally, they just
    stopped replying to my emails. Because I allowed them to stall, I was unable to
    get a Credit adjustment due to the 60 day time limit.

    The Air free Tire user site appears to be just a facade – it looks real, but I never got a reply.
    After repeated attempts at telephone contact, I never got any more than an answering
    machine. My messages were apparently ignored.

    After more research, I learned that Air Free Tires makes no product. They simply act
    as a middle-man, order the tires from another company, and sell them at a higher cost.
    I was told by the company they order from that they are withholding shipment because
    Air Free Tires has defaulted on payments to the vendor.

    I believe this operation is a scam to defraud people, and I encourage people to contact
    the FBI with all your evidence to document your case.

  10. Bill says:

    *sigh* I wish I had found this site earlier; I agree with the post prior to mine that Air Free Tires website is a facade. I have contacted the BBB in Florida as a result. I am coming to this realization today; so my next step is to see about getting the money back from my CC. Again I agree; DO NOT purchase anything from Air Free Tires!!!

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