Never get a puncture again. Never buy new tubes. Never remember to fill with air. Install, forget, ride.
These are pretty much the Holy Grail of bicycle tyres. People have been waiting for a solid tyre that’s actually usable ever since Dunlop, Michelin and Thomson replaced the solid originals with pneumatic tyres over 100 years ago. Well, now someone’s actually delivered.
Tannus is a South Korean chemicals and materials expert that makes the stuff found on the bottom of trainers all over the world. They started investigating the solid, puncture proof, airless tyre in 2003 and didn’t release a version into Korea until 2011. Based on a compound polymer the tyre is solid, requires no air and does not puncture. Or rather, punctures do not affect it. You can run into potholes, glass, nails, thorns and the tyre will keep on rolling.
Historically the trade off for solid tyres versus air filled alternatives have been comfort and weight, but Tannus has created a tyre that is lighter than an entry to mid level pneumatic of the same size and slightly heavier than a very high end one. In terms of comfort and rolling resistance the difference is unnoticeable to the layman and feels similar to a heavier winter training tyre to the seasoned rider.
Because the material is a single compound, the Tannus tyres are not suitable for fixie skidders as you will wear a flat patch on the tyre surface. They state this to cover themselves but with enough skid patches and a bit of sanding down every now and again the tyres will run happily on fixed gears ridden by intermittent skidders.
They’re economically sound too at £100 per pair. A decent pair of puncture resistant tyres such as those used by 8Ball will retail at £50-60 and then you have inner tubes and rim tape. So with a couple of punctures you’d spend £100 in a year. Tannus tyres will last for several years.
The installation process is different and a little tricky, although special tools are provided. When they reach end of life though they are easily removed just by cutting the tyre and peeling it off the rim.
At present we do them in black only. More 8Ball Bicycle-suitable colours are coming in 2015. Available in 700c only in 23c or 28c, both of which fit on an 8Ball cycle. With 8Ball mudguards or fenders and drum brakes you can run with 28s but if you’re installing you’re own mudguards you may want the slightly thinner 25s.