Why should I buy Air Free tires? What are some of the
The main advantage is that you won't ever get a
flat. Never. That means you can ride without fear,
knowing you'll never be stranded in areas that are
unfamiliar to you. Air Free tires can't possibly go
flat; they're made of the same material that is on
the soles of your sneakers.
Do they last forever?
No, but nothing does, not even the soles of your
sneakers. Air Free tires last a very long time.
You'll still be riding on them 3,000 miles from now,
and up to 6,000 miles is possible.
Do they come in the size I need for my bike?
Because we work with a number of different
manufacturers, we have just about all the possible
sizes covered. We can get you tires for all the
popular-size rims, and we can even get some of the
hard-to-find, rare, vintage sizes. We have between
30 and 40 different sizes of tires, and we have 70
different models, just for bikes! So the chances
are, we have what you need.
How will I know what size to order?
That's the best part: we give you all the
information, right on our web site, to find exactly
the size you need. You'll have several options.
First, we have both a rim database and a database
that has more than 30,000 bicycles in it. If your
rims or bike are listed in one of these, you'll be
able to tell immediately which of our tires will
fit. And if you can't find your rims or bike in one
of the databases, we also explain three different
ways you can measure your rims, including a method
that you can use without taking off the tires. You
can determine your rim size using the change in your
pocket: just put a coin next to your rim, check the
chart and you'll be able to tell.
What if I mistakenly order the wrong size?
Hey, we know everybody makes a mistake once in a
while. If you order a tire that doesn't fit, rest
assured that it comes with a no-hassle return
policy. Send it back to us, and we won't charge you
any restocking or handling fees. If
we accidentally sent you a tire you didn't order, of
course, we'll pay the return shipping. And if you
have a hard time getting to the UPS store, for a
couple of bucks, we can make arrangements to send
the UPS man right to your door to pick up the tires.
How do you put one of these Air Free tires on the
They're pretty easy to install. Some styles are a
bit easier than others. Because the air is already
locked into an Air Free tire, in the form of
billions of tiny bubbles, you won't need to inflate
it. Installation involves gently stretching the tire
over the rim until it snaps firmly into place.
Do I need a special tool for this?
A tool can make installation much easier. We provide
the tool at a nominal cost; with some styles, we
even provide the tool for free! We have two
different tools available; each tire listing shows
you which tool will work best.
I'm not very handy. What if I can't get the tire on?
If you have any difficulty installing the tire, just
let us know and we'll help you with further
instructions. We have been known to help walk people
through the process over the phone. But most people
are able to install their Air Free tires without any
If they're so easy to get on the rim, will they just
fall OFF the rim?
Nope. The foam material is stretchy enough for you
to stretch it over the rim. That stretchiness also
gives Air Free tires their bounce. But all our
bicycle tires come with "safety cords" built in.
These are nylon cords that can only stretch a
certain amount. That amount is programmed in, and
it's exactly the amount of stretch needed to get
them installed. Once they've been stretched that
amount, nothing can make them stretch any further.
So engineering is one part of the equation. The
other part has to do with physics. As you're going
around a turn, natural forces try to pull the bottom
of the tire away from the rim; but because the
safety cords don't stretch, that same motion is
pulling the cords tighter at the TOP of the rim.
So there's no way to get the Air Free tire back off,
The only way you can dislodge the tire is to wrestle
it off the rim--or you can carefully and
methodically use tools to unseat it and gradually
work it loose. Occasionally, you might ride into
conditions that duplicate the first method. If you
get a wheel caught in sewer grate and wrench the
handlebars all the way to one side, for example,
that might pop a tire off. But it's not going to
come off when you ride over a curb.
Air Free tires sound indestructible. Are they?
No, they're destructible. Sturdy, but
not invincible. The same extreme forces
that would blow out a rubber tire, like
going over a cliff, probably would also
damage airless tire. If you stuffed
either a rubber tire or an Air Free tire
full of cherry bombs and blew it to
shreds, both would be damaged. But your
Air Free tire won't go flat if you
encounter some glass or a thorn. Air
Free tires are not shields you can put
in front of speeding bullets--but then
again, a bullet wouldn't make it go
flat. It would just have a hole in it.
Where are these tires made?
Most Air Free tires are made here in the U.S.. We
have one partner, Greentyre, in the U.K. They use
the same technology and methods as our
American suppliers, and operate under
the same high standards, so we've
introduced a limited number of their
tires to the American market. All Air
Free tires are made by skilled workers
who make good wages.
What are these tires made of?
Microcell urethane. That's the kind of material now
used to make automobile dashboards, some seat
cushions, and some vibration-dampening devices. We
use a proprietary version of microcell urethane
that's not typically available to other industries,
and we make it up with a specific formula.
What puts the air bubbles in an Air Free tire?
It's a complicated and exacting process, like making
really difficult bread. It requires several steps,
and conditions have to be just right. You know how,
even if humidity is wrong, bread won't rise right?
The same kind of thing happens when you make
microcell urethane. The bubbles are formed during an
irreversible chemical reaction, which happens when
you put the two components together. The first
compound is isocyanate; the second one is
proprietary, which means we can't tell you, but
there could be many things in there: little bits of
rubber, plastic, ball bearings. Mix the isocyanate
with the secret stuff, and one of the byproducts is
carbon dioxide. If you put the mixture in a mold,
you'll trap a certain amount of the CO-2 in the
So is an Air Free tire full of air, like a rubber
tire? Or is it solid?
An Air Free tire has about 1/3 the air that would be
in the same size tire if it were made out of rubber.
So they're only 2/3 solid. They're full of little
encapsulated bubbles. They're made of foam that is
light and fluffy, like a soufflé. It's like the
process of making a difficult bread, but you end up
with a soufflé.
Are you offering any new sizes?
Yes, and we're excited about it. The Greentyre
Blizzards we have in stock will fit a rim between
18-21 mm wide. That's a size we couldn't fit before.
Blizzards fit a thin rim that would normally take a
26 X 1.75 tire. They're a little thinner, and
they're very nice, well-made tires.
Do the Blizzards come in more than one density?
They come in two densities, regular and HP. The HPs
that I ordered are heavy, extra density, and they
will last a long time. Both densities are in stock
right now as "quick ship" items. We can help you
decide which density will work best for you.
How can you get British-made tires to your customers
We made special arrangements to have some flown into
the States, so they will ship the next day,
distributed by Carefree.
Why do bicyclists need different tire densities?
Well, like seat cushions, bicycle tires can be
softer or harder. The best density for your bike
depends on the weight of the rider, what kind of
riding you do, and what surfaces you ride on.
How do the manufacturers adjust the density on Air
The easiest way to describe it is this: To make an
Air Free tire, the manufacturer pours the urethane
blend into a mold that's spinning at about 400 RPM.
The centrifugal force created by the spinning slings
the urethane out to the periphery or the mold, while
it's still in a semi-liquid slushy state. The
material is distributed and becomes perfectly
balanced because of the spinning motion. Because
this is a foam, the faster he spins the mold, the
more it "collapses" the foam, which makes the air
bubbles smaller. A faster-spinning mold takes more
urethane to fill up, and therefore makes a denser
tire. The higher-density tire is a bit heavier, but
it can take more weight, roll better and last
How can I decide what density I need?
We measure density in "PSI equivalency" – that is,
the amount of foam it takes to give the tire the
same feel as a rubber tire inflated to that number
of pounds per square inch. You can determine the
perfect PSI by starting with your weight. If you
weigh 180 pounds or less, a PSI of about 90 is
perfect. For every 20 pounds you are over 180, we
recommend you add another 10 PSI. So if you weigh
200, you want a PSI of 100-110. If you weigh 250,
you'd want to customize your Air Free tire to a PSI
of about 120. If you ride for longer distances, you
might want to add a little extra PSI as well. The
more you weigh, the denser you want the tire to be.
So I can get an Air Free tire customized to ANY PSI
No, we have a range. Adding PSI is like pumping more
air into a rubber tire. The tire can only hold so
much, and it can only help to a certain extent. If
you weigh more than 400 pounds, we're not going to
be able to make an Air Free tire dense enough to
support you. We can make Air Free tires up to 175
PSI, which is pretty firm. We can make Air Free
tires as squishy as a racket ball or as hard as a
Who wants a tire as squishy as a racket ball?
We actually do sell some Air Free tires at 35 PSI,
but not for regular bicycles. Those tires are only
available from Nu-Teck, and we are the only place in
the world who can get them. You know that circus
stunt where a bike rider rides around inside a big
wooden barrel? Those tires need to be as squishy as
possible, to make a large "footprint" and stick to
the barrel. Some amusement park rides use very soft
Air Free tires. If you had a cart you used to
transport explosives from one shed to another, you'd
want very soft tires.
What are the stock PSI's, then?
Our manufacturers have produced tires in standard
PSIs that we think are in the range most people
would want for the kind of riding they'd do with
that kind of tire. Our 700 X 35 tire comes in a
standard 90 PSI, because that's the PSI most people
would want for the way a 700 X 35 tire is used. All
the manufacturers offer what they feel would be the
most popular and useful standard PSI. But if you
have a very specialized purpose, like stunt-riding
or explosives transporting, you'll want a
How can I get the tires to my door? Does shipping
cost a lot?
We can get you two tires and an installation tool
delivered to most U.S. locations for about $14.95.
It costs a bit more to send them to Alaska, Hawaii,
Puerto Rico or Canada.
Do the tires cost a lot?
We try to keep Air Free tires comparable in price to
good rubber tires. Our tires start at under $25. Of
course, some rubber tires are extra cheap, down to
about $3. But you get what you pay for in terms of
Do Air Free tires last longer than rubber tires?
Based on my own experience and listening to our
customers, my guess is that a pneumatic (rubber)
tire and an Air Free tire of equivalent price would
last about the same number of miles. But this is an
important point: the rider with a rubber tire might
have 6-12 flats in that time, depending on what kind
of terrain they're riding on. Some riders with
rubber tires have a flat every 700-800 miles. The
same rider, using Air Free tires, would have NO
Are there different tread styles for different types
Yes indeed. We follow same design philosophy as the
rubber tire manufacturers when it comes to treads,
so we offer multiple tread patterns for each of the
tire sizes we have. There's a 16-inch knobby Air
Free, a 16-inch street Air Free, and a 16-inch
slick. It's the same with our popular 26-inch tires.
We have all the popular treads for the kinds of
bicycling most people do. We have the perfect Air
Frees for a Sunday afternoon light trail run, or for
the commuter who likes to ride fast over smooth
What if I do extreme riding?
If you're planning to go down a black diamond,
you'll need a very specialized piece of
equipment—not Air Free. Air Free tires are not
designed for extreme riding. To ride a bike offroad,
you need a tire with a dynamic (changeable)
footprint, one that can get dramatically larger or
smaller, depending on surface conditions. Since an
Air Free tire only has 1/3 the air in it that a
rubber tire has, it isn't free to move as
dynamically as a rubber tire. If you sit on a bike
with rubber tires, the tire footprint—the part where
the rubber meets the road—will expand. If you sit on
a bike with Air Free tires, the tire footprint
doesn't change significantly. So there's a
noticeable performance difference with Air Free
tires offroad. But we're able to successfully
imitate the performance of a rubber tire on the
What's new in the world of Air Free tires?
We're always working on something new: new
urethanes, new designs, new philosophy. The growing
airless tire industry is controlled by a relatively
small group of manufacturers. There's been a power
shift recently that has really opened things up for
new research and development. We're researching
improved designs and other new possibilities. It's
Are Air Free tires a good idea for kids?
They're a great idea for some kids. If you have a
responsible child who uses his bike for
transportation, Air Free tires are perfect. Parents
can rest easy, knowing that child will never be
stranded with a flat tire. But if your kid uses his
bike for extreme adventuring, and is very
destructive to rubber tires, then he'll probably
destroy the Air Free tires as well. Whatever forces
are making your kid get repeated flat rubber tires
will probably have a bad effect on Air Frees. In our
experience with child riders, it's not the glass in
the street that gets the tires: it's jumping the
bike like a stunt rider. If your child is blowing
out rubber tires by skidding his bike along the
concrete, the same skidding will create flat spots
on his Air Free tires.
Who are you, Air Free Tires? How long have you been
I started selling Air Free tires online in 1999.
Since then, we've shipped Air Free tires all over
the world, from the mountains to the prairies to the
oceans white with foam. We've got troops in the
armed forces riding on Air Frees in the Middle East.
We have a great number of loyal, repeat customers.
We're also at the front cutting edge for airless
tire research and development. We're constantly
reinventing the wheel, or at least the tire it rides