Energy Return Wheel: Prototype Bike Tire That Never Goes Flat

Sometimes taking something from conventional to green doesn’t require space age materials or a fancy interface. Sometimes all it takes to make a product more sustainable is to make sure it lasts, preferably forever. Most of the things we use today, especially electronics, are built to become obsolete–quickly. Today’s corporations don’t see any profit in things that are built to last, so they build them to break. This sucks up a lot of unnecessary resources and creates a lot of waste.

Some companies, the really innovative ones, don’t let the allure of infinite profit cloud their mission to create a high quality product. Britek, a Colorado-based tire maker, is one of those companies. Britek recently filed several patents for the “Energy Return Wheel“, an airless tire that’s said to not only eliminate flats, but also improve fuel efficiency and performance.

Britek Airless Tires

Images via Britek

Most people say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. One could argue that since tires have (more or less) employed the same design for over 100 years, effort would be better spent elsewhere. Good thing Britek founder Brian Russell doesn’t listen to those arguments. Want to know how it works? ChopMTB explains: “Instead of air, it uses rubber stretched over a series of rods to provide its cushioning. These rods can be adjusted, changing the tension of the rubber to suit different types of terrain. The 29er rim is made from carbon fiber to keep weight down, and Russell is thinking about adding a thin sidewall to keep mud and trail debris out.”

“Although there is no air pressure that riders can adjust, they can instead adjust the rubber-tensioning rods to make the wheels run harder or softer,” Gizmag adds. Since there’s no air to be let out of the tire, nails, rocks and other previously tire-ending threats are rendered null and void.

Although Britek initially conceived of the tires for cars and trucks, they chose to demonstrate the prototype in a very different way: on the wheels of a mountain bike. Watch it in action below and then tell us: is this brilliant or a bad idea?

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog


  • Reply November 1, 2012


    As a big man (275+ pounds) that enjoys mountain biking, I find this product truly ingenious! When, where and at what cost will I be able to find these?

  • Reply November 4, 2012

    Ed Miller

    i think it be good but i bet it cost a arm and a leg fot it and if they are resable do they make street and trail

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