Rans Rocket rider first trip on airfree tires


New Member
Aug 17, 2003
[hpv] Air Free Tires?
Paul Goodrich [email protected] <mailto:hpv01%40keyconnect.to>
Wed, 25 Apr 2001 01:16:41 -0700
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>What's the word on Air Free tires and their compteitors, American Tires Air Riders? I found their websites, which of course say favorable things, but I haven't heard
an opinion from anyone who doesn't have a vested interest.

As luck would have it, I've just come back from my first full-length commute (about 30 miles, all told) on AirFree tires. They're still new enough that the silicone hasn't all worn off, so they're more than a little squirrelly at the moment. More carefully stated, the running surface is fine, but the sidewalls and the sides of the tread are still slippery enough that they
"bounce off" minor ridges in the road rather than climbing over them. I
expect that this will improve once I wear the silicone off (for those who
are wondering, it is used to enable the tire to be extracted from the mould).
Even when they're fully silicone-free I'm sure I'll have some learning to
do: the front tire is equivalent to 120 PSI and the rear to 160 PSI, so
there's not much rubber on the road compared to the 90-PSI V-Monsters which
they're replacing.

Ah, though -- the joys of riding without having to scrutinize every inch of
oncoming pavement! There seems to be a significant segment of the
population in Portland that self-medicates their Seasonal Affective Disorder by imbibing alcohol, then throwing the empty bottles onto the street, from whence the big tires of the cars and trucks sweep the shards of glass neatly over into the part of the outermost lane and shoulder where bicycles tend to ride. I plowed straight through a good half-dozen patches of glass today, any one of which would ordinarily have caused either (1) a flat or (2) a potentially dangerous dodge into traffic to avoid the hazard; the AirFree tires took everything Portland's streets could throw at them with nary a complaint. Freed of the glass-hunting chore, I was at liberty to look around, observe more of the flow of traffic, see the scenery and just generally enjoy the ride.

Rolling resistance isn't a problem, either cruising or climbing -- I
deliberately specified very high-pressure tires for that reason. I can't
really speak to speed issues at the moment, because a hip injury last summer (non-bicycle-related) has kept me off the bike for the last several months and I'm taking it *very* easy for these first few weeks back in the saddle. I'll report back to the list in July or August with more accurate info on overall speed <grin> ...

Mounting the 120-PSI tire on the rim was no problem, but the 160 nearly
killed me. I finally developed a technique that involved zip-tying the tire in place at one point in the rim, engaging the mounting tool in the rim, kneeling on the ground and _laying the tire down_ on the ground and on my thighs. This allowed me to bring my body weight to bear on the mounting
tool, pressing it toward the rim to keep it from popping off about
two-thirds of the way around. The manufacturer also recommends pre-heating
an oven to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, turning it off, then wrapping the
tire in a towel and letting it sit in there for 10 minutes or so to let it
get (slightly more) flexible before mounting it, as well as slathering the
tire and rim in soapy water before starting the mounting process.

If I had it to do over again, I'd probably get somewhat softer tires, just
to give myself larger contact patches for better steering and braking. I've heard that the new formulation (currently in testing) has much better
rolling resistance than this generation of the technology, so I'm hoping to
be able to come down into the 100-PSI range without feeling like I'm rolling a beanbag.

I was surprised to see how much stuff I was able to strip off the bike once
I mounted the AirFree tires. There's a surprising amount of technology
required to support pneumatic tires: pump, extra tube, patch kit, tire
irons, Schraeder-to-Presta adapter, extra dust covers and extra valve-stem
locknuts, at least. My rack-top bag used to be nearly full, and it's now
nearly empty.

That's about all I can think of at the moment. If there are other
questions, ask away and I'll go out and ride around until I can come up with an answer <grin>! Usual disclaimers apply: I don't work for AirFree, etc.

Fair skies and tailwinds --

Rans Rocket #7

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