A racing driver and a mechanical engineer built homemade airless tires so you don't have to.
Enthusiasts aside, most motorists tend not to pay much attention to their tires. This could lead to potentially dangerous situations, especially when motorists neglect to carry out basic maintenance. But even the most cutting-edge, high-performance examples are not immune to issues. Recently, the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport was the subject of a recall after the NHTSA uncovered a problem with the Michelin-made rubber.
But advancements in technology will soon eradicate annoying issues, with the aforementioned tiremaker developing airless tires for the next-gen Chevrolet Bolt. Not only are the airless counterparts kinder to the environment, but also remove the possibility of dangerous blowouts. Michelin's trailblazing work hasn't stopped a pair of ambitious Brits from creating their own airless tires, as racing driver Scott Mansell (no relation to Nigel) and his team used water pipes and tire tread to create something semi-functional.
Using a 14-inch steel wheel from an elderly Ford Mondeo as the base, 15 pieces of freshwater pipe were placed around the wheel. To reduce vibration, several smaller pipes were added in between the larger items before being enrobed in standard tire tread. The entire contraption is kept together by 300 nuts and bolts.
The duo fitted the homemade tires to a race-prepared Caterham Seven 270R. Light and grippy, this is the perfect testbed for the ambitious creation. The results are nothing but amusing, as the airless tires create a noisy and bumpy driving experience. Worryingly, a few nuts and bolts also undo themselves after just one lap of the track.
The rudimentary tires simply shrug off a bed of nails, floating over them as if they're not there, and hitting a pothole happens in a fuss-free manner.
Drifting is less successful, though, with the tire not able to cope with the stresses found when going sideways. The passenger, with a slight hint of fear in his voice, remarks "I'm only slightly scared of what's going to happen. Drain pipes flying, chunks of rubber." It certainly doesn't sound safe but the unsophisticated design fares better than we had expected it to.
"Yes, they can [be] a bit quieter and a lot rounder. But they really do hold up to nails, potholes, and even [heavy] driving. For some homemade wheels created from drain pipe, a cut-up tire, and bolts, that's not bad." We wouldn't attempt to create our own airless tires (as we value our lives), but we have to tip the proverbial hat to these guys. Not only have they showcased the benefits of the future design, but they also managed to pull off a pretty impressive feat.
We believe it goes without saying that these are not road legal, and you should not try this at home.