Bridgestone shows off small airless tires

The Airfree tire's thermoplastic radial spokes support vehicle load, and the entire thing is recyclable.

Bridgestone's 9-inch Airfree tires have been tried on electric carts. Bridgestone

If you've had one too many flats, take a look at these small airless tires that Bridgestone is showing off at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show .

The Airfree concept tires have resin spokes that radiate from the rim to the tread, curving to the left and right to better support vehicle loads.

They're only 9 inches across, but have been successfully tested on single-seater electric carts in Japan that are often used by elderly people.

While the tire won't suffer punctures, it's also completely recyclable. The spokes are made of thermoplastic resin, which can be reused along with the tread rubber.

Airless tires are nothing new, and can be seen on military vehicles and heavy machinery that do not use treads.

But they haven't revolutionized the tire industry. Michelin's experimental Tweel airless tires are said to suffer from vibration, heat, and noise problems at high speeds.

Bridgetone's Airfree spoke design differs from the Tweel, however, and a spokesperson says their performance on cars will be evaluated before possible commercialization.

 

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