Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
John asks: Curious about your thoughts on the Michelin Uptis (airless) tire. It strikes me as another goofy innovation that no one asked for and won’t address any problems people are actually facing!
My reply: These tires – which have flexible (and exposed/unpressurized) cells in a lattice-style arrangement are interesting from an engineering point of view and are puncture proof, but have other problems – such as those exposed lattice cells becoming filled with frozen snow/slush or mud (which would dramatically – and negatively – affect handling/ride). They probably also give different cornering characteristics, though I don’t know because I’ve never tried them. I do know they are ugly – and that will be a huge problem as far as customer acceptance, even if they function as well or better than conventional pneumatic tires.
Finally, they address a problem which hardly exists – flat tires. They still happen, of course – but not commonly. Most people go years without dealing with this. Modern tires are very hardy; and there are also run-flat tires – and tire inflator/repair kits, etc.
One wonders, too, what the cost of these new tires would be at the retail level. I doubt they would cost less – another problem.
Of course, the real “problem” behind the development of these tires is the shibboleth of “sustainability.” The claim is made that these tires can be made using more recycled material (or less energy) and are more easily disposed of than pneumatic tires.
As OJ says, look out!
Anything “green” and “sustainable” invariably means it cost more and doesn’t work as well – from low-flush toilets to electric cars.
I expect the same here.
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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