A number of tire manufacturers have been portraying airless tires as the way of the future. A few have even moved into production capacity on the airless front. These non-pneumatic rollers have been utilized mostly in commercial applications. A few years ago, however, America's own Polaris introduced an airless tire for one of its quad offerings. Now Korea's Hankook is showing off its latest conceptual version of its own airless piece of the potential future pie.
The tire is called the iFlex, and it uses similar technology that we've been seeing since Michelin showed off its Tweel concept about a decade ago. This latest version from Hankook has been undergoing all manner of testing at the tire firm's South Korean R&D headquarters. These tests examined the iFlex and its durability, hardness, stability, performance during slalom, and performance at speed.
Besides being a potential airless product for Hankook, the iFlex also has the distinction of helping the company move towards a smaller carbon footprint. It takes half as many steps to produce the iFlex. Additionally, the tire itself is constructed from eco-friendly materials.
It's still at the prototype stage at this point, but all of the testing and commitment to reducing the build cycle shows that Hankook is quite serious about bringing such a tire to production. Perhaps we're not far off from the first non-commercial or powersports application of an airless tire. As long as we can still do burnouts, hit the track, and get sideways, we welcome our airless tire future.