These METL Bike Tires Literally Use Space-Age Technology

A new airless bike tire called METL promises to never go flat and last a lifetime. It uses a material developed by NASA.

A man in spacesuit riding on a bike that has METL wheels, utilizing material that was developed by NASA
These wheels use material that was developed by NASA
Smart Tire Company/Kickstarter

Airless tires that never go flat and last a lifetime? It sounds like science fiction, but The Smart Tire Company claims they’ve created these futuristic wheels for cyclists and are currently accepting crowdfunded pre-orders on Kickstarter.

Dubbed METL, these bike tires utilize actual space-age technology: It’s the same material developed at NASA for the Mars Rover Program. METL tires are powered by an inner skeleton made from Nitinol, a shape memory alloy that’s highly flexible and stretches like rubber but is “strong like titanium” (the company claims they even shot a bullet through one and kept riding). They also apparently offer a smoother ride and last your entire life.

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This appears to be the first commercial application of this superelastic metal. “We’re building a bicycle tire first because it allows us to build core capabilities and put an extremely cool product in people’s hands more quickly,” says SMART co-founder Brian Yennie (who was pitching this on Shark Tank). “That said, everything we are doing to develop our METL bike tires, is part of a greater strategy to mass market SMART tires. Also, we just think it’s a really great product that speaks for itself.”

METL tire sets start at $150 and go up to a few thousand if you add in carbon fiber rims (it also depends on the type of bike you’re buying these for). The Verge estimates most people will spend around $500, which is about 10x what you’d pay for regular bike tires.

Delivery is estimated for June 2024; the company has already met its crowdfunding goal three times over with 26 days to go. But as always, be careful when pledging money toward any crowdfunding campaign, no matter how cool it seems.

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