LOS ANGELES — SMART Tire Co. (STC) is accepting pre-orders for its "METL" airless bicycle tires — made from NASA-developed shape memory alloys — and disclosed it's working on a version for electric scooters.
The shape-memory alloy that STC uses in its METL tires is based on the advanced material technology NASA is planning to use for future rover missions.
Los Angeles-based SMART Tire — SMART is an acronym for Smart Memory Alloy Radial Technology — is a licensee of spring tire technology developed by NASA. The tires being offered for sale feature a rubber tread bonded to the "Slinky-like" metal coil that makes up the core of the product.
The company was conceived in 2020 as part of the FedTech NASA Startup Program, a private venture program funded by federal agencies and corporate partners to connect entrepreneurs to technologies developed across federal agencies such as NASA. Among the company's executive team is Earl Cole, winner of the reality show Survivor:Fiji.
Tires are available exclusively to pre-order through Kickstarter in one size, 700x35c, for road/gravel bike sizes, where the company is selling 500 sets of first-edition tires (two tires per set) at $500 a pair. Additional sizes will follow.
SMART Tire far exceeded its $25,000 goal on the crowd funding site.
The standard clincher tires, made at STC's facility in Akron, are tubeless and compatible with standard bicycle rims. STC also offers a limited number of custom wheel sets available with the tires already preinstalled, the company said.
STC noted that it is developing tires based on the METL concept for electric scooters, as part of a strategy to make micro-mobility safer, more reliable and sustainable without sacrificing performance or ride quality.
Scientists at NASA's Glenn Research Center near Cleveland designed and developed in the 2015-17 timeframe a non-pneumatic tire made of a stoichiometric nickel-titanium (NiTinol) mesh that they envisioned would be used on a possible mission to Mars.
Stoichiometry is defined a branch of chemistry that deals with the application of the laws of definite proportions and of the conservation of mass and energy to chemical activity.
Among recent accolades, STC won the 2022 Accelerate the Future Challenge, sponsored by South Korean car makes Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp.
The Accelerate the Future Challenge is an open innovation program for startups and scale-ups worldwide underwritten by Hyundai and Kia to find potential collaborators on practical solutions within the smart factory, robotics, advanced automotive technology and smart mobility domains.
STC also disclosed that it's developing a process that will allow it to retread the cycle tires now for sale. This aspect is in line with the company's sustainability goals. The METL tires use about half the rubber of conventional pneumatic tires, STC said, and by offering retreading and recycling programs, the overall CO2 footprint will be reduced.