Britek’s Energy Return Wheel was originally developed for vehicles as a way to increase both performance and fuel efficiency by creating a “slingshot” effect as the wheel rolled. Using rubber or alloy structures in place of an air chamber, the tire could more effectively “bounce forward” coming out of compression, thus increasing acceleration and saving gas.
Now, they’re turning their attention to bicycle tires.
We’re digging the concept, particularly if it’s lightweight, but see three challenges to making it universally acceptable. The first is tread selection, which is easy enough to overcome by offering several patterns for various conditions. The other two are reportedly already solved with planned updates: A thin sidewall would keep mud, rocks and other trail debris from ending up inside the tires, and adjustable tension lets you mimic air pressure changes to get the deformation to your liking.
UPDATE: Comments from one of the test riders posted at bottom.
We’re waiting to hear back from them on weights and other details, like how it’ll mount to the rim, but there’s a couple of renderings after the break to keep you occupied…
Chris from Big Kahuna bike shop in Denver, CO, has parking lot tested various iterations of them and had this to say:
“The wheels in our videos are early prototypes and they’re pretty firm. The round treads turned pretty good, but the more square ones were a little disconcerting as there’s not much compliance yet. They’re also kind of heavy, but it’s an interesting concept that has potential. Still up in the air if it’ll be a performance based product or a commuter thing.”
More as we get it.