Experiences with Airless Bike Tires - www.airfreetires.com is just a scam site now
After being stuck in outer-SE Portland, fixing a flat, during a dark freezing midnight downpour...and then solicited from a tweaked-out overweight older man (musta been the bike shorts) :o ...I turned to airless tire solutions; I've always hated flatting, and found it silly that a good chunk of my randonneuring kit was in pumps, tubes, tires and patches. My first venture was ordering one-piece tires from AirFreeTires.com, my first order arrived with no issue, and while the tires were a bit quirky, they were alright. My second order took months, and a series of public/online complaints before arrival. The third order never arrived...and that order was placed in October of 2008.
For over a year I've exchanged "order tickets" and emails with the folks at AirFreeTires, and while they've had one convincing excuse after another, I'm now among the ranks of those whom have been scammed by "Hugh Waters" of AirFreeTires. Nu-Teck Corporation and Air Free Tires have claimed a business relationship for the last ten years...one is forced to wonder; after so many years of complaints, is Nu-Tek actually in cohorts with AirFreeTires - why else would a business retain such a relationship?
Despite a far better ranking when I ordered, AirFreeTires now gets a solid "F" from the BetterBusinessBureau, and from me.
Since I was beginning to wear-down my existing airless tire, and had become frustrated with the scam site that is now www.airfreetires.com, I began looking elsewhere.
To my pleasure, I discovered that Kenda has a wheelchair and scooter tire division, including airless tire inserts asserting upwards of a simulated 90PSI.
Now, Kenda is a name I can count on being around! There's some local suppliers which even carry the inserts, although I ended up buying from www.noflattires.net - the 1st order arrived just inside of a week, and the 2nd larger order came just as fast.
Past experience with inserts was that they were heavy and soft...not Kenda's. They're a Royal PITA to mount, but once on the rim, you're set (hint: use four huge ParkTool tire levers, and when the instructions say to use lots of WD40 for the installation, they mean to use copious amounts of WD40). Aside from a more reputable manufacturer, I can now also select what kind of tire I want; currently using Schwalbe Marathon Plus, the extra gel layer is a perfect mate to the firm foam insert, and it feels like I'm cruising around on 80-90PSI tires + I get that awesome traction from this well-built tire.
I know all the arguments against airless tires; stiffer rides, broken spokes, busted rims, and demons from hell itself snatching lone cyclists off back-country roads. In reality, despite thousands of miles on my existing aireless tires, not even tweaked-out overweight men have been able to catch me, let-alone those daemons of broken spokes nor busted rims.
I've been running with the new kit for roughly a month, and while I feel a tiny bit slower, when one compares the time lost from flatting, arriving at destinations covered in grease & dirt, or even the personal safety issues...the airless option is an easy win.
Are the inserts heavier? Hmm, after pitching a pump, patches, two tubes, a few tire levers, and the bag they all went in...nope, the whole bike is lighter now.