Polaris Industries Inc. is known for making ATVs and other quality off-road vehicles, but what many may not know is that the company has been building a secret weapon: the airless tire. According to Fox News, Polaris acquired a small development company by the name of Resilient Technologies last year. Resilient Technologies was working on a form of the “non-pneumatic” tire (NPT) made out of a web of plastic honeycombs. The tire is meant survive harsh conditions and best of all, never go flat because of its open interior.
“The tire works very similar to a bicycle wheel, where the load is carried in tension across the top of the wheel,” said Polaris spokesman Jason Difuccia. “The bottom of the wheel is designed to give in to obstacles like rocks, curbs, and other terrain.”
A thick outer band of rubber protects the inner web, which is made out of a flexible proprietary plastic. Even if the web was damaged to 30 percent –imagine using a screwdriver to poke some large holes in it- the tire still retains functionality.
This is a giant boon for ATV riders that have a love for the outdoors but are constantly halted by tire problems. Beyond rendering the air pump obsolete, the NPT is simply a much more rugged tire.
Polaris engineers aren’t afraid to flaunt their product a little; the NPT has been put through a battery of tests meant to qualify it not only for the outdoorsman, but battlefield environments as well. In one test, engineers shot the tire with several .50 caliber rounds and then successfully drove on it for an additional 5 hours over rough terrain. Polaris employees were so confident in the new design that they took them out for joy rides to Sierra Nevada.