Dunlop in chunks

Tire Ball introduces ‘air cell’ flat-proof tyre inserts at Interbike.

Scottish-born Belfast-based JB Dunlop created the pneumatic inner tube in 1888 revolutionisng the world of bicycles, making bikes faster and more comfortable. But then as now, the one-piece rubber tubes were prone to punctures. Many flat-free systems have been introduced then.

The newest on the block – and an innovation that would pleased Dunlop – is the Tire Ball. Already used successfully in motorbikes and ATVs, Tire Balls are small, squidgy 2.5inch air-filled balls which fit into existing tyres and rims. If one flats no big deal there are 20+ more to keep the tyre ‘inflated’. Pressure forces the rest of the Tire Balls to fill the empty space.

The Tire Ball Development Company is a spin-off of SRC Summers Racing Components, a motorbike and ATV specialist run by Wade Summers, father of off-road motorbike racing champion Scott Summers.

At Interbike’s Outdoor Demo, the Tire Balls booth was mobbed from morning to night with beta testers being signed up to iron out any wrinkles in the system for MTBs. Tire Balls will cost about $150 per wheel but can wholly prevent punctures and rim flats, of vital importance to racers. The Tire Ball system has been created for XC and DH bikes.

Wade Summers said Tire Balls offer “not only virtual flat-proof characteristics but simultaneously improves traction and improves suspension performance. Tire Balls are designed to last for years not hours of use.”