Cycling, Exercise, Journal

More on Air Free Tires

There’s a good comment on Felix’s site from another user of Air Free Tires:

George wrote:

OK, I put around 200mi on the HP tires. They are:

– much rougher riding than my normal tires @ 90psi (yes, that’s what I run as I only weigh 140lbs). You can feel every little road imperfection. Not so pleasant.

– considerably higher rolling resistance than my normal tires. Normally I can cruise at 17-18mph without so much effort. To go this fast on the airfree tires required a lot more effort. I’d say 3mph is taken off your speed, for an equivalent amount of effort.

After these 200mi, I didn’t want to ride my bike anymore with these tires. So I’m back to my flat-prone Avocet tires, and I’m taking my lumps with the flats. These airfree tires would probably be OK for short commutes to work, or a couple of miles on bike trails. But in my opinion, that’s about it.

I’ve logged over a hundred miles on these tires, and I have to agree with the rolling resistance point. I’ve remarked to Rae on several occasions that I’m much more tired during the ride with the Air Free Tires. I was estimating earlier to Felix that I’m losing 1-2 mph with the tires, but maybe George’s estimate of 2-3 mph is more accurate.

I do wonder, however, if the greater resistance of the Air Free Tires is somehow helping me to train better. When the Low-Key Hillclimbs start up again next month, I’ll probably switch back to clinchers. Hopefully, I’ll be flying up the hills instead of trudging up them.

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20 thoughts on “More on Air Free Tires

  1. Was surprised to read that you felt flat-prone with your Michelin Pro Races…when I switched to Michelin Pro Race IIs, my flat problems all but disappeared. I think I get a flat once every…400 miles with them. That’s just a wild stab at a guess.

    Instead of an airless tire, how about something less radical like a beefy liner or one of those gel tires? I’ve heard a lot of people say that those Armadillo tires totally work and the performance sacrifice ought to be much less dramatic than what you get with those airless tires.

  2. Joe says:

    2-3 mph sounds about right. Airfreetires has tested the Daytonas at a crr of around 0.016. A decent clincher will be about 0.006. Inputting the numbers into several available cycling speed and power calculators gives a speed difference of 2-3 mph for a given power output. The difference is actually less at higher speeds where most of your power is used to overcome air drag. For what it’s worth, tire liners and tires with gel all increase rolling drag substantially as well. In the end there might not be all that much difference between an airless tire and a flat resistant tire. Also, the HR material seems to solve the rolling resistance problem, but unfortunately the selection is currently limited to tires fitting wide rims. I’m hoping by the time my first set of airless tires (currently on order) wears out there will be some HR tires for narrow rims.

    When I get my 175 psi Daytonas I’ll see if the higher pressure mitigates the rolling resistance problem. In truth, I can probably live with 1 or 2 mph difference. Most of the time my tires are underinflated (higher drag) anyway because I’m too lazy to check them. It’s also worth noting that at lower temperatures the airless tires roll better. At maybe 30° or 40°F they might well be as good as pneumatics. Unless there turns out to be some really serious drawbacks to the airless tires, I can’t see myself ever going back to pneumatics again. I could live with a few flats a season like many people seem to get, but unfortunately in NYC flats are a weekly or more frequent occurance. Well worth losing a few mph, if that much, in exchange for never having to deal with fixing flats again.

  3. K. Kepler says:

    I guess I’m an “old pro” when I read of others using air-free tires. I currently have 3,400 miles on a Nu-Teck I purchased from Air Free Tires, and it’s doing fine with probably half its tread left. A second Nu-Teck I used to own had gone 1,300 miles when I sold that bicycle and I left it on the bike. Both tires were 26 X 1-3/8 size.

    The Nu-Teck I’m still using has been a great tire in every way, though I concur that it doesn’t roll quite as easily as a pneumatic tire. The lower-mileage Nu-Teck I sold gave me two roll-offs, which were annoying, and that tire never seemed to fit as well as the first Nu-Teck I still am using. Both roll-offs were when I hit the edge of pavement at the side of the road, and one of them was at night. Thankfully, both were close to home, and I had to use the install tool both times to put the tire back on.

    I also am using an Amerityre airless tire, size 20 X 1.95 with street tread, on my little “trail” bike. It’s the best tire of the lot, with about 700 miles on it. Still looks virtually new, and has almost no noticeable drag.

    The air-free concept needs improving, but at the moment it’s not bad and definitely beats flat tires! Prices and availability are still a challenge, which I hope will improve with time.

    It’s probably obvious that I keep a careful log on mileage. My main bike has a speedometer/odometer. Part of just being me!

  4. Chun says:

    A few questions for those who have great experiences with airless tire.

    I have pneumatic tires on my Fuji Pro with size of 700x25c, but I checked Air Free Tires and Nu Teck, they only carry 700x20c tires for road bikes. Will they be too small for the rims?

    Will having higher customized pressure on the airless tires improve their performance?

    When put on those tires, do I absolutely need the installation tools, since they are technically inflated tires?

    Thanks.

  5. For the 700x20cc tires, you don’t need the installation tools. I haven’t experimented with the higher pressures, but the default one does increase rolling resistance and will make you go slower.

    You should check the rim width to see if they fit. There are some pages on AirFree tires website which explain how wide your rims should be.

  6. Royal says:

    I purchased some tires from Kai Eng at Nu-Teck back in 1998 and specified they be 110 psi equivalent. 26×1-3/8, 20×1-3/8, 16×1-3/8. One front tire (on my Tour-Easy clone) now has some wear spots … probably time for a new one. Friends who are VERY PARTICULAR (bike builders) have noticed the 2 mph differential in their riding times. My wife and I have been extremely happy with the ridability and lack of flats with our tires. She hates walking a bike home with a flat tire. We ride recumbents. We’ve used ours for commuting, recreational riding, and the occasional race with the skinny-wheel racers. The only time I’ve been unhappy with airless tires is when I bought a couple of Amerityres … the psi was only 45 and they rode much more sluggish. The only time I’ve had a roll-off was with the Amerityres. I put the Kenda’s back on that bike … pending tires from Nu-Teck. The smaller the tire, the harder it is to get on … or come off. I’ve done some corners at 25-30 mph and had no problems with them on my lowracer.

  7. Mark DiCocco says:

    I was wondering if anyone was having any issues actually receiving their order from AirFree Tires (NuTeck)? I ordered my tires over eight weeks ago and no one can give me a status on where they are or if I will ever receive them. I am anticipating that the product (700c x 20 Daytona TT) is worth the wait? I have received many worthless emails from “Hugh” at AirFree but nothing that remotely tells me when I can get the product I have already paid for. Anyone else have a delivery issue?

  8. phillip says:

    Hi guys, the 1-3 mpg sounds really odd, over about 14mph your air drag is anywhere between 70 and 95% of your overall resistance on flat planes. This changes for racing recumbent 2 wheelers and low recumbent trikes because of the low profile and rider position, but it is still significant. In order to have such drag the tires would have to be converting a lot of energy to heat.

    Do the tires feel hot after you ride?

    I’ve not tried these tires but even on my trike with the lowest wind resist you can get without a shell, I’ve accidentally ridden with almost flat tires and only noticed from habit of checking them on recovery stops. I’m also wondering about the low bead tension people are talking about. Would this make airless a poor fit for a trike where shearing forces are much higher than a 2 wheeler.

    If that’s the case then there would be one area where recumbent trikes aren’t superior to all other rides :o

  9. Adam says:

    I order my tires from Airfree back on May 27th and still have not gotten them. I keep getting the runaround when I call or email and can never get a straight answer. I would love to be able to give an opinion about whether the tires are any good, but I cannot get them sent to me. It is very disappointing and I must say that I have a low opinion of the customer service at Airfree.

  10. Rich says:

    I have been riding Air Free tires for 2 years and have been very very happy. I average about 16mph and did not find that I was suddenly slower or more tired due to rolling resistance. The tires are a slightly more harsh to ride but the trade-off is no flats. I also found after a season I got used to the ride and now don’t really notice the harshness. I also dont have to carry tire repair stuff so my bike is lighter.

    The Air Free Tire Company does take a long time to get the product especially if the tire is a custom psi as Air Free doesnt make the tires, only distributes them. I get the sense with custom tires that if they dont have them in stock, they usually dont, they wait to make a run.

  11. Bob says:

    I for one am already dissapointed with “airfree tires”. It’s been over six weeks since I placed my order and no tires. Two phone calls and one e-mail later, I’ve still not made contact with a living human. There was no delay in billing, my credit card was charged immediately.

  12. I’m sorry everyone has had such a bad experience with Air Free Tires. I got my tires within a reasonable time. I’d keep emailing and calling for a few more times until they respond.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not using the Air Free Tires at this moment. The lack of flats was great, but the increase in rolling resistance was not desired. If I was commuting more, I’d probably still have them on.

  13. K. Kepler says:

    This is an update to my posting above dated September 18, 2007. The Nu-Teck tire that had 3400 miles on it a year ago now has 7000 miles and is still rolling . . . but the tread is low and the center feels soft. I suspect it is nearing the end of its life. But 7000 miles is still exceptional, in my opinion. (I’m using it on the front.) On that same bicycle, I’m using a standard rubber tire on the rear with a NoMorFlats solid inner tube inside. Time will tell how they compare, but the Nu-Teck certainly wins on longevity.

    The Amerityre with 700 miles on it a year ago now has 3200 miles on it and is performing fabulously. It has the all-terrain tread and I’m using it on the front of my trail bike. I put a mountain-tread Amerityre on the rear a thousand miles later, so it now has 2200 miles; I’m not as happy with its tread, but it is holding up okay. Stay with the all-terrain tread for overall performance and traction. Oh, just one other thing: that “safety yellow” color turns rather drabby yellow-gray after awhile.

    My only problem has been ordering. Air Free Tires has been unpredictable and less than satisfactory. Directly from Amerityre was fine one year ago, but they appear to have dropped their website ordering option.

  14. K. Kepler says:

    For the benefit of others, I should mention my own hard-luck experience with Air Free Tires of Florida. I ordered from them in early September 2008 but could not get any replies to my three follow-up phone calls or one E-mail copy after plenty of time had elapsed. Then I contacted Nu-Teck in Colorado directly (since they are the manufacturer) and asked them about my order from Air Free Tires. Their reply was that they had never received an order for me! (Air Free Tires had my money all that time.)

    I called Chase MasterCard (which is how I paid Air Free Tires) and they told me non-delivery and non-followup is called “fraud” . . . they reversed the charge through my MasterCard account and got my money back. I then cancelled via phone with Air Free Tires and made it clear they were the problem. But, I still wanted my tires; so I called Ron Matusek at Nu-Teck and placed the same order directly with him — would you believe, within two weeks I had in my possession brand new customized-pressure tires sent via UPS! Superb service, though at a higher price than Air Free Tires tried to charge.

    My advice is, contact the manufacturers directly and leave Air Free Tires in Florida alone. Learn from my experience. Fortunately, I came out all right in the end, but I’m not sure everyone else does.

  15. W.T.Pearce says:

    Ordered from Airless, took my money 3 Oct 08, no tires, no response to phone, e-mail, webb! Pursuing fraud claim through charge card. Still looking for source. Commuter wanting reliability, can handle bumps.

  16. Wadhamite says:

    An update to my posting of October 2008 . . . The Nu-Teck front tire that I mentioned reached 9,000 miles and was worn smooth, no tread, soft inner core showing; then the rim failed. (I’d wondered if 10,000 miles might be possible, and I guess not; but 9,000 miles on one urethane tire is truly exceptional.) The rubber tire on the rear with the solid tube inside is up to 3,400 miles and still has a bit of tread left; it will probably push 600 miles more for a total of 4,000 and that’s still very good for a Chinese-import budget tire.

    My Amerityre tires on the trail bike are still in use. The front one has reached 5,000 miles and is still in good shape with lots of tread left and flawless performance. I hope it reaches 8,000 miles eventually. The rear one, at 4,000 miles, is about finished; the knobby tread is worn off and the tire is getting soft and a bit squishy, though it still goes around. Twice it has come off the rim; as it wears down it also seems to stretch more. I probably should consider it worn out.

    All of these compare superbly with rubber tires and pneumatic tubes. Three times on that rear Amerityre that’s now worn out, I have removed objects with pliers that would have flattened any tire. I’ve saved myself several flat tires. Way to go, absolutely!

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