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TECH NEWS

Never puncture again! NASA-derived tyres that use shape-memory alloy instead of air hit Kickstarter + £70 titanium mech hangers and loads more tech news

Check out updated bikes from Pinarello, Trek and 3T, cool new stuff from Sidi, Rudy Project and Pirelli, Silca’s €85 titanium derailleur hanger & loads more…

At the end of a crazy-busy week in the cycling world, we've got updated bikes from Pinarello, 3T and Trek, 2024 stuff to show you from the likes of Sidi and Rudy Project, and the poshest derailleur hanger you’ve ever seen, but we’re starting with the tyres that promise to make punctures a thing of the past…

No more punctures? NASA-derived airless tyres hit Kickstarter

Airless tyres that use an inner skeleton made from a shape-memory alloy – designed to consign punctures to history – are looking for crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with a delivery date pencilled in for next year.

2023 Smart Tire Company Metl - 2 (1)

We’ve covered the Metl tyres from The Smart Tire Company on road.cc a couple of times before, but now is the first time you’ve been able to put your money down for them. They also appeared on Shark Tank, a US version of Dragons’ Den, but they failed to secure investment there.

> Could these NASA-developed 'space-age metal' bike tyres make punctures a thing of the past? 

The technology ultimately derives from NASA – it was used for Mars rovers where fixing a flat isn’t an option – and we all know that NASA tech, like anything from F1, is guaranteed to get cyclists excited.

The Metl tyres feature a shape-memory alloy (SMA) called Nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium, that’s coiled up inside like a stretched-out Slinky spring. The idea is that the Nitinol allows the tyre to deform and then recover its shape perfectly.

The Smart Tire Company says, “It’s a lightweight, highly flexible ‘superelastic’ metal that stretches like rubber, but is strong like titanium and will always instantly snap back into its original shape.”

2023 Smart Tire Company Metl - 1 (2)

The company claims that Nitinol provides the highest energy return of any material used for tyres and leads to low rolling resistance. It also says that Nitinol offers impressive shock absorption and elasticity for a smooth ride, it is lightweight and it’s extremely durable.

The Smart Tire Company says, “Save time and money with zero flats, no air pressure to check, no sealants, no inserts, no foams, no patches, no spares, no expensive replacements, and no more being stuck in the middle of nowhere carrying or walking your bike. No more worries. Just ride.

“That’s the key: new materials unlock our ability to make tyres that are practically indestructible (we even shot a bullet through it and kept riding), more energy efficient, with a smooth ride comparable to any conventional, air-filled tyre. [This is] the first high-performance, non-pneumatic (airless) tyre for cycling that is sure to be a game-changer within the industry.”

2023 Smart Tire Company Metl - 1 (1)

Of course, having the metal in contact with the ground wouldn’t work in terms of traction so a “special poly-rubber material” is used over the top. The Smart Tire Company says that this provides “the longest-lasting tread and grip, for all weather conditions” and that the tyre is re-treadable (at estimated costs starting at $10/£8). The translucent sidewalls allow you to see the Nitinol coil inside.

> SMART Tire Company unveils new second-generation prototype of ‘space-age’ metal tyres 

The Smart Tire Company is also keen to shout about the ecological benefits of switching to Metl tyres.

“We are building smarter, more sustainable tyres for the circular economy,” it says. “Many major problems with pneumatic tyres are addressable by our technology, including lower weight, less rubber, fuel efficiency, zero flats, and a significant reduction in waste.

“Developing a longer-lasting tyre that uses 50% less rubber is a critical step in developing a circular economy for transportation.”

The Smart Tire Company is kicking off with a 700C road/gravel tyre that’s available in 32mm, 35mm, and 38mm widths. The 35mm version has a claimed weight of 450g. For comparison, the 700C x 35mm Panaracer GravelKing Plus TLC tyre that we reviewed on road.cc weighed 353g – although with a pneumatic tyre you have to consider the weight of a tubeless valve and sealant or an inner tube too. The Smart Tire Company reckons the tread will last 5,000-8,000km (3,100-5,000 miles).

2023 Smart Tire Company Metl - 3 (1)

You need to pledge $500 (about £400) to be in line to receive two Metl tyres with delivery expected in June next year. That’s much more than a standard set of tyres although The Smart Tire Company reckons that, with re-treading, they could last the lifetime of your bike.

Pledging $1,300 (about £1,040) puts you in line for an aluminium wheelset fitted with Metl tyres, while you need to pledge $2,300 (about £1,840) for a carbon wheelset complete with Metl tyres. As we always point out, pledging money on a crowdfunding site isn’t the same as buying through a retailer.

What do you think, cool new tech or a lot of nonsense? Let us know in the comments.

Find out more here

Would you spend 70 quid on a derailleur hanger?

Silca titanium derailleur hanger

Silca – known for producing premium-made and often premium-priced components and tools – has announced new 3D-printed titanium derailleur hangers. There's an upgrade you've never considered before.

Silca says the titanium hangers are five to seven times stiffer than conventional aluminium hangers and 2-6g lighter. These hangers have already been used successfully in the Tour de France, maintaining derailleur alignment even after crashes, the brand claims.

There are 10 models currently in production to suit different frames, and prices start at €85 (about £73) apiece. Would you consider it?

Find out more here

Pinarello offers Dogma F in new colours for 2024

Everyone has a fleet of Pinarello Dogma Fs kicking about in the shed, right? If any of yours are looking a bit jaded, you can now get a new one in a 2024 finish.

2023 Pinarello Dogma F 2024 - 1

There are three new styles with three colour options in each of them. This is the funkiest: Nebula. It’s described as “a beautiful tonal two-colour fade on a matt black base”.

There are more conservative options too.

Find out more here 

Trek adds new Project One paint job

Speaking of finishes, Trek is offering a new one called Real Smoke Heather Fog as an option in its Project One custom scheme, and this is it…

2024 Trek Project One Icon Real Smoke Heather Fog  - 1

Looks cool, huh? Any downsides? Well, the paint scheme costs £1,650 before you even start thinking about the bike you’re going to put it on.

Find out more here 

Check out Rudy Project's 2024 highlights

Rudy Project has announced its 2024 range and here are a couple of the items that caught the road.cc beady eye…

2024 Rudy Project Astral glasses - 1

First up are the new Astral sunglasses. Rudy Project says that these are comfortable, sustainable, and affordable. Those are three of our favourite things. How did they know?

The Astral frame is made of Rilsan Clear, described as “a bio-plastic derived from 45% castor oil grown by certified farmers in Gujarat, India”, and you get an adjustable Ergonose nose pad.

Price? The Astral starts at £119.99 – so not exactly bargain basement but way cheaper than some.

2023 Rudy Project Kelion glasses.jpg

We told you about the new Rudy Kelion glasses a couple of months ago. They start at £191.99.

2024 Rudy Project Nytron Pro helmet - 1

The Nytron Pro helmet joins the existing Nytron in the range. It is designed to be more aerodynamically efficient and has far fewer vents, although Rudy Project reckons that there’s only an 11% reduction in airflow.

The Nytron has an RRP of £199.99 but we don’t have a price for the Nytron Pro yet.

Find out more here

3T debuts £320 stem – and updates Racemax Italia gravel bike too

3T has launched a new version of the More stem that it initially introduced over 20 years ago.

2024 3T Integrale stem - 1

“The new More stem is the first full-carbon stem for 3T’s Integrale system,” says 3T. “Integrale stands for full integration without the complexity and bulkiness that usually come with integrated cables. After all, what is the point of hiding your cables from the wind if you make the head tube bigger to fit them in?”

With Integrale, electronic shift cables and brake hoses fit inside the same head tube profile as non-integrated frames. 3T says that this provides an aero benefit.

“With the More cable channel, the cables are integrated while still allowing the stem to be exchanged without a hassle – no disconnecting or hose bleeding required,” says 3T.

The More uses an internal fork clamping system with no external bolts. It also integrates the top cap, while the face plate is a carbon hook design that reduces the number of bolts required.

The More stem is compatible with all 3T Integrale handlebars. It’s priced at £319.20.

2024 3T Racemax Italia Integrale - 1

At the same time, 3T has made the Racemax Italia its first gravel bike with its Integrale cable routing system.

> Check out our review of the 3T Exploro Racemax Ekar 1x13 

You can get a complete 3T Racemax with a SRAM Rival XPLR groupset for £7,155, or a SRAM Force d2 AXS model for £8,252.

Find out more here 

New shoes from Sidi…

Sidi has given its range a big overhaul for 2024, updating loads of models and introducing several new ones.

2024 Sidi Prima - 1

We can't go through all the changes but the new Prima has a very different look from the rest of the range, with the lower closure handled by a hook/loop strap and a dial used up top.

It comes with a lightweight upper and a carbon nylon Aerolite sole. The Prima is priced at £175.

2024 Sidi MTB Dust Shoelace - 1

Over on the gravel side of things, the MTB Dust is now available in a laced option.

2024 Sidi MTB Dust Shoelace - 2

The upper is microfibre and you get gum-coloured grippers on the sole. The MTB Dust Shoelace is priced at £245.

Find out more here 

Chrome introduces new Bravo 4.0 urban backpack

Chrome Industries has released a new version of its Bravo urban rolltop backpack.

2023 Chrome Bravo 4.0 - 1

“Doubling down on utility and functionality, this weatherproof pack offers incredible versatility, built smart to deliver whether using on foot or two wheels on the daily commute, or when deploying during travelling and leisure,” says Chrome.

The Bravo 4.0 features a padded sleeve that’ll take a device up to 17in, a moulded back panel, and a zipped front organiser pocket. There’s a quick-access zipped phone pocket too. It’s priced at £210.

We’ll ask Chrome if they’ll lend us one for review.

Find out more here 

GripGrab expands its range to year-around cycling wear

GRIPGRAB-WOMENS-RAINMASTER-WATERPROOF-LIGHTWEIGHT-JACKET-LOOKBOOK

Scandinavian cycling brand GripGrab is well known for accessories such as gloves and overshoes, but it has now expanded its collection. The range includes products designed to meet specific functional needs for riding in all conditions. Some of the standout items include:

  • Rainmaster Waterproof Jacket (£160): a lightweight, durable, breathable, and packable jacket. 
  • Gravelin Merinotech Jersey (£130): Made from an insulating merino and synthetic fabric blend for exceptional thermal regulation and moisture-wicking capabilities. 
  • Aquarepel Water-Resistant Bib Shorts (£125): These bib shorts feature a three-layer softshell waterproof construction. 
  • Thermacore Bodywarmer Vest (£90): Featuring Teijin Octa Airmesh fabric, this lightweight bodywarmer should give exceptional warmth and windproof protection for your core.
GRIPGRAB-WINDBUSTER-WINDPROOF-LIGHTWEIGHT-VEST-LOOKBOOK

The collection is available now on GripGrab's website and selected retailers. 

Find out more here

Ride with GPS users can now see their live activity on their iPhone lock screen

ride with gps live activity display

Cycling navigating app Ride With GPS (RWGPS) has announced that iOS users can now have real-time RWGPS navigation and recording data at their fingertips without unlocking their phones, thanks to Apple's Live Activity display. In essence, it seems like this display will act much like a cycling computer on your iPhone's lock screen. 

This feature comes integrated into the Ride with GPS mobile app and works for users running iOS version 16.1 and above. 

> How to plan the perfect cycle route and follow it on your bike computer

With the Live Activity display, riders can track essential metrics and navigate routes while their iPhone remains locked, conserving battery life in the process. RWGPS says this is set to make multitasking during rides easier - whatever else you might want to do other than ride your bike and see your ride data - and more efficient than ever before.

You can customise the metrics and navigation cues to show four metrics, such as speed, distance, elevation, and more. It can also be paired with Bluetooth sensors such as heart rate, power meter and cadence monitors. 

Find out more here

Pirelli adds new models to premium inner tube range

Pirelli has added two new models to its range of premium inner tubes.

“The new SmarTUBE Evo features a new TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) formula and offers a performance made of flexibility, smoothness, and comfort that can compete with latex inner tubes, while also guaranteeing up to 50% less weight compared to the latter,” says Pirelli.

2023 Pirelli SmarTUBE Evo - 1

The brand says that the SmarTUBE Evo has 5% less rolling resistance than the existing Pirelli SmarTUBE.

It comes in one size for use with 700C x 25mm and 700C x 28mm tyres, and three valve lengths: 42mm, 60mm, and 80mm.

The SmarTUBE X, on the other hand, is said to be three times thicker than the Cinturato SmarTUBE which it is replacing. It “offers robustness and puncture resistance”, according to Pirelli, and “is particularly suitable in city settings or for fast commuting”.

It’s available in several different versions with Presta and Schrader valve options.

We don’t yet have UK prices.

Find out more here

Temple Cycles introduces full builds of four-season steel road bike

We told you last year that Temple Cycles had introduced its Temple Road four-season frameset, made with Reynolds 853 tubing, and now the Bristol brand has announced that it’ll be available as a complete bike.

2023 Temple Cycles Temple Road - 1

Temple Cycles says the Temple Road is intended to be “the classic clubman’s bicycle with the emphasis firmly on clocking up miles and enjoying the ride”, and that using Reynolds 853 allows it to “achieve a perfect balance between performance, comfort and longevity”.

“The Temple Road runs Shimano Ultegra R8150 Di2 (12 speed) and Hunt Four Season All Road wheels, and offers other modern touches in the form of disc brakes and internal routing,” says Temple Cycles. “Nods to the traditional clubman’s bicycle are reflected in details like the lugged forks and curved brake bridge. The Temple Road also features plenty of mounting points for racks and mudguards.”

The complete bike is priced at £5,795.

Find out more here 

In case you missed it earlier in the week…

Add new comment

19 comments

Avatar
froze | 9 months ago
0 likes

Is it just me, or does the "special" price for 2 Metl tires for $500, (that's $250 for one tire) sound a bit much for a tire?  Of course, for $10 to $20 they'll retread it.  I guess my biggest worry is that if Shark Tank would not fund it, did they see something they didn't like??  It does look cool though, but missing $500 out of my wallet for two tires is not cool, and those prices will go up once they launch...IF they launch.  Given time the prices will fall assuming they go into full production, but the ability to retread forever is attractive though, I just don't want to gamble on this if Shark Tank wouldn't.

Avatar
peted76 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Would you spend 70 quid on a derailleur hanger?

No, I see zero logic here. Even for a recovering weight weenie like myself. Hangers are designed to bend and break for a reason.

 

 

Avatar
OnYerBike replied to peted76 | 9 months ago
0 likes

peted76 wrote:

Would you spend 70 quid on a derailleur hanger?

No, I see zero logic here. Even for a recovering weight weenie like myself. Hangers are designed to bend and break for a reason.

To be fair, they do claim that the hangers include an "internal fracture notch" which means the hanger is still sacrificial in any impact that could potentially damage the frame. I can see the logic - plenty of hangers get bent through fairly minor knocks that would not have caused any damage to the frame anyway. They also claim that normal hangers flex during gear shifting, and that flex serves no beneficial purpose but is detrimental to shifting performance (especially as cog spacing gets ever narrower).   

Avatar
peted76 | 9 months ago
0 likes

Those airless tyres sound ace to be fair.. not for performance purposes. but for the mtb, gravel, CX riders and commuter heads.. they could be ace. I'd like to think that at some point in the future we'd see 'varying' psi options.. but yes I agree there's a few significant red flags in the current proposition, entry point being the main one. 

Avatar
Codfather123 | 10 months ago
1 like

Sounds like a project Tesla might.back.

Avatar
Tom_77 | 10 months ago
1 like

I've got airless tyres (Tannus) on my eBike. It's great not having to worry about punctures or having to pump the tyres up.

The rolling resistance is pretty shocking though, so if someone could come up with an airless tyre which rolled as well as a normal tyre I'd be interested. But not at £200 each, (the Tannus ones are about £50) with the vague promise that you might somehow be able to retread them at some point in the future.

Avatar
wtjs | 10 months ago
6 likes

At the risk of appearing even more like the elderly moaner I am, it does seem to be a lot easier and cheaper to just install a pair of Marathon Plus

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to wtjs | 10 months ago
5 likes

wtjs wrote:

At the risk of appearing even more like the elderly moaner I am, it does seem to be a lot easier and cheaper to just install a pair of Marathon Plus

100%. Put them on the commuter and gravel this year plus Duranos on the road bike, same for Mrs H except not got round to her road bike yet, one puncture between us in roughly 14,000kms.

Avatar
Xenophon2 replied to wtjs | 10 months ago
1 like

My thoughts exactly.  Last spring I got tired of tubeless problems and delicate 'gravel specific' tyres that last 2000 km (rear) and cost 50 Euro/piece (I ride about 11-12 k km/year).  Switched to Continental contact plus:  fast rolling, grippy, good resistance, cheap.  What's not to like?  Yeah, they're heavy but sod that, I don't ride competitively.

Avatar
levestane | 10 months ago
2 likes

The tyres sound interesting but this is something professional racing would test if rolling resistance is significantly reduced. I would worry about nitinol changing behaviour across the several 10s °C between winter and summer.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to levestane | 10 months ago
0 likes

levestane wrote:

The tyres sound interesting but this is something professional racing would test if rolling resistance is significantly reduced. I would worry about nitinol changing behaviour across the several 10s °C between winter and summer.

That also raises a red flag for me as this would be ideal for professional racers as the cost and longevity wouldn't be an issue with them.

Avatar
gary p replied to levestane | 10 months ago
0 likes

levestane wrote:

The tyres sound interesting but this is something professional racing would test if rolling resistance is significantly reduced. 

I have my doubts that these tires will be anywhere close to the .crr of a high-end pnumatic racing tires.  And the weight would seem to be an issue for road racing.   But let's be real, the pro peloton hasn't exactly been on the cutting edge of tire technology.  I mean, some are still clinging to tubulars!  

The development of a new tire technology like this is way outside any cycling team's scope of expertise.  They rely on tire supplier agreements, and are limited to whatever tires the brand they work with has to offer.  Unless Vittoria/Continental/Michelin/Specialized/Pirelli has secretely developed a similar tire and given them to their teams to try, no pro team has likely tested anything like this.   

 

Avatar
RoubaixCube | 10 months ago
3 likes

correct me if im wrong but i thought the secondary function of a derailleur hanger was to at as a slight buffer and protect the derailleur/chainstay's from any serious potential damage if you were to come off on that side of your bike simiar to that of a crumple zone in a car?

Titanium is significantly stronger than aluminum and thus doesnt have as much flex/give to it which partially defeats the secondary nature of the hanger bending  inwards.

At least thats what I was told many years ago when i started riding.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to RoubaixCube | 10 months ago
2 likes

RoubaixCube wrote:

correct me if im wrong but i thought the secondary function of a derailleur hanger was to at as a slight buffer and protect the derailleur/chainstay's from any serious potential damage if you were to come off on that side of your bike simiar to that of a crumple zone in a car?

Titanium is significantly stronger than aluminum and thus doesnt have as much flex/give to it which partially defeats the secondary nature of the hanger bending  inwards.

At least thats what I was told many years ago when i started riding.

I was curious about that, for the same reasons. The website says:

Silica wrote:

SILCA 3DP Hangers are able to be aligned by hand, and are designed with an internal fracture notch which allows the hanger to fracture and bend below the point of damage for the carbon frame to eliminate the risk of frame damage under the hardest of impacts.

So they still do the same job (allegedly) in protecting the frame but have less flex to eliminate derailleur alignment inaccuracy...personally I'd rather put up with the alleged inaccuracy (which I bet the ordinary rider can't sense) and know I'd bin a £10 part in a drop rather than a £80 one.

Avatar
Xenophon2 replied to RoubaixCube | 10 months ago
0 likes

A good derailleur hanger is designed to be light, stiff, and most importantly, to fail before forces get to a level that the expensive derailleur and/or the frame would be damaged.  Building one that's rigid, reasonably light and titanically strong is trivial.  What's hard is building one that's all that but will still fail at the right moment.

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
8 likes

Those tyres are interesting, but it's not confidence inspiring if they're only available on KickStarter. If they really do have lower rolling resistance and are puncture proof, then you'd expect someone would be willing to invest a good chunk of money into them, but crowdfunding implies that they're not really that good, so they're just trying to get hopeful consumers to chuck their money in. It's a risky proposition as they don't sell any other products, so they could be complete noobs when it comes to the fine details of working with factories etc.

Let me know when they're in production and we can have real world tests of them by ordinary people.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to hawkinspeter | 10 months ago
3 likes

Yup - I can see the wires worming their way loose from their moorings in the tyre carcass. Only time will tell, and I'm not paying to be a tester.

Avatar
HoldingOn replied to Sriracha | 10 months ago
2 likes

In my very limited experience of Kickstarter, the price on there is usually vastly discounted from the end price - meaning £400 is cheap for a pair of these tyres....

It is interesting technology, but the price and the need for "re-treading" is a hard pass from me.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to HoldingOn | 10 months ago
4 likes

HoldingOn wrote:

In my very limited experience of Kickstarter, the price on there is usually vastly discounted from the end price - meaning £400 is cheap for a pair of these tyres....

It is interesting technology, but the price and the need for "re-treading" is a hard pass from me.

From my experience of Kickstarter, this project will massively over-run and will likely run out of money before the backers receive anything. Manufacturing is difficult and this is something completely new.

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