As we race towards peak tire insert, we found a new one that’s gearing up for launch this fall. However, this is not your typical flat protector. Instead, it’s actually an airless system designed to allow you to use your favorite rubber tires. Since AirFōm isn’t launching until the Taipei show, details are still fairly limited, but the concept is pretty interesting.

Sneak Peek: AirFōm promises airless riding - inside your favorite tires Sneak Peek: AirFōm promises airless riding - inside your favorite tires

One of the biggest differences between AirFōm and much of the airless competition is that it’s an insert, not a complete tire system. To ensure proper fit around the rim and to fill out the tire, the inserts appear to come in interlocking sections. It’s mentioned that only the larger MTB sizes use a three piece construction with the Energy, Backbone, and Foundation as shown above, the smaller sizes combine the Foundation and Backbone into one piece.

AirFōm claims their design mimics the ride of a pneumatic tire by using multiple foam layers and it is able to achieve about 60% of the rebound performance of an air tire.

Installed using tire levers, AirFōm also mentions a proprietary installation lubricant that is sprayed onto the tire bead to reduce tire/rim friction by 80%. But it also drys up in 30-45 minutes and won’t be reactivated by water.

With a claimed weight of 240-280g depending on the size, AirFōm is heavier than a tube, but it is impossible to flat. AirFōm also points out that their design uses materials that are not cross linked which makes them easily recyclable, though they’re also completely reusable.

AirFōm says that product will be in stores this winter, with more sizes offered in 2019. At launch, they plan to have all of the sizes listed below available. We’ll plan to bring you more from Taipei!

  • 700 x 35c
  • 700 x 38c
  • 700 x 40c
  • 700 x 42c
  • 27 x 2.35 – e-bike
  • 27 x 2.5 – e-bike
  • 29 x 2.35 – e-bike
  • 27 x 2.35
  • 27 x 2.5
  • 29 x 2.35

air-fom.com

24 COMMENTS

  1. So I fail to understand why companies keep up with the foam thing. It’s not as good as pneumatic tyre ever . No matter what material the foam is your bike will feel and handle like a shopping trolley. Tubeless on the other hand is absolutely brilliant and improves the way a bike handles and very rarely punctures

    • Airless tires are becoming good enough that I feel a more nuanced view on them is needed. There are plenty of riders on pneumatic tire choices that roll worse than some of the airless tires on the market. Airless in my opinion can play well in hotel rental fleets and on neighborhood bikes that are rarely pulled out of the garage except on the occasional sunny day. I don’t even mind them for a few miles of commuting when it’s important for me to get to an appointment without flatting.

    • I try to look at these outside of the “performance bikes” in my fleet. I live in a flat place (heart breaks a little) and live 1.5 miles from where I work. Tubeless is awesome, and I will never put it on a bike I ride to work, bars, and the coffee shop. The idea of never getting a flat or even pumping the tires on that bike is something I would consider. With that, the tires on the bike have never flatted in 3 years, so I’m not really looking on how to spend money on a bike that has yet to fail me.

      • If they were going to call it what it was they would call it 650b, because ya know that is what it’s been called for nearly a century.

        • Or, instead of incorrect and apparently controversial SAE measurements, how ’bout we go with the actual metric measurements of each rim, say, 584 x 60? If 700, 28, and 29 all use the same rim diametre, and 27 is bigger than those three AND 27.5, why are we still using any of these numbers-as-names? I know it requires education and at least here in the States that is anathema, but this is how most of us talk in shops. All we’d have to do is expand this to our customers. (Then keep fighting for 15 more years before throwing up our hands in despair and begging Amazon for jobs flying delivery drones.)

      • 27.5 is very close to 27.5″ when using a modern 2.25 XC tire. It’s 26″ that actually measure about 26.5″ with a modern sized XC tire.

  2. I adjust my air pressure based on conditions. So this makes absolutely no sense to me. I ride tubeless 27.5 x 2.8 or 3.0. I always set up my air pressure based on riding conditions and terrain.

    Why would I add so much weight to my rotating mass? Seems like this technology is extremely counter productive.

  3. Rolling resistance is going to be rubbish, it weighs more than even running tube plus sealant or an old fashioned tuffy strip, durability is a complete unknown, even though it’s theoretically recyclable we all know what our local waste management centre is going to do with a dirty tatty piece of “wtf is this thing?” when it hits the sorting line at end of life, it relies on a hydrocarbon lubricant spray for installation, which looks like a PITA. Air is free, and how many punctures are you going to get running something like the pictured Schwalbe Marathon at 60PSI anyway? Other than that, I really like the idea.

  4. As other comments have noted, I don’t think the target market is your higher performance bicycle. Beach/townie rental/loaner fleets. E-bike commuters where resistance doesn’t matter as much will be a huge market. I’m strongly considering an e-cargo commuter and I’d go airless.

  5. Will they produce a 700×23 or 24. In the front range of CO we have thorns that exist on the side of the road and get picked up by road tires. I flatted both tires in 10 ft last week.

  6. Any foam system has at least two drawbacks that are deal breakers. This new system does not solve them.

    First, there is the frictional wear and lubrication issue. Second, compressed foam shrinks over time, so they start out nice and tight but get looser and looser with every passing day. Bottom line is foam inserts only work well if they are swapped out and relubed often. That makes sense for racers and hardcore adventure riders, but not for the rest of us. Tubeless is similarly a great solution for pinch flats, but requires constant attention and is hard to fix trailside.
    I will stick with tubes for their adjustability, longevity, low maintenance and ease of repair, even if i have to be a bit more careful about hitting rocks out on the trail.

    • Sorry tubeless requires constant attention? While I’d agree road tubeless is a PITA (at least for pure road applications it’s great for mixed surface riding) all I have to do every few months on my MTB is pop the bead pour some fresh sealent in and pop the tire back on with a co2.

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