Space-Age Airless NASA-Inspired Smart Bike Tires Cruise Past Crowdfunding Goal

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An Ohio-based company has seemingly perfected NASA's rover tire technology for a more terrestrial purpose—tires for road bicycles (and even e-scooters) —and now you can buy them on its fully-pledged Kickstarter campaign.

The SMART (Shape Memory Alloy Radial Technology) Tire Company is selling its revolutionary Metl tires on the popular crowdfunding site. The campaign has exceeded its financial target, but the early bird deals are still active for those want a taste of what is claimed to change the future of bicycle tires.

Developed a couple of years ago with NASA, the tire is supposed to never go flat due to its coil-spring internal structure. Similar in concept to Lunar Terrain Vehicles used by Apollo astronauts, the Metl tire is able to provide ride comfort and retain its shape under load without the need for any pressurized air. 

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The internal structure consists of a shape memory nickel-titanium alloy commonly known as NiTinol, which is lightweight and highly flexible (so it can easily be installed on a regular rim), yet strong. The alloy will deform under pressure, but thanks to the memory properties of titanium, it will bounce back to its pre-shaped form. 

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Protection from the elements come in the form of a translucent poly-rubber sidewall with re-treadable rubber treads. According to the company, Metl tires should last the life of the bicycle, whereas the treads need replacing every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, depending on tread pattern. SMART also claims that overall the tire uses half the amount of rubber as a regular pneumatic tire. On the flip side, it can be argued that pneumatic tires are made of 100 percent renewable rubber, as opposed to non-renewable minerals used in Metl tires.

Pledges currently begin at $150 for a pair of e-scooter wheels, up to $2,300 for a set of Metl tires with carbon-fiber or aluminum rims, with orders tentatively planned for shipment in June 2024. The site also states that retreading will cost roughly $10.