On paper, the Rhinotire sounds too good to be true: it won’t ever go flat, proving resilient to road debris. It will increase fuel economy by up to 10 percent. It will reduce tire noise by up to 30 decibels. It will last up to 25 percent longer than regular tires. It will maintain tire pressure for years. It rides better. It will render the spare tire obsolete. It will also file your taxes and ooze an anti-aging facial serum from its valve stems, if this line of reasoning is to be carried to its inevitable conclusion.
What magical substance are these tires rendered from, deep within the forges of Mount Doom? Nothing exotic, really: Rhinotire is a polymer lining is sprayed on the inside of a tire’s tread, which can seal itself up to 1/4-inch deep punctures, according to certain claims. The added polymer blend is baked into the tire and adhered to the rubber, where it exists as a gel. When a nail goes through the tire, the gel fills into the hole and maintains tire pressure without allowing air to escape. The gel adds 1 pound of weight per tire, but Rhinotire claims that handling benefits are unaffected.
Rhinotire distributor Kevin Fields acknowledges the far-fetched claims that his product carries. But he claims that Rhinotires survived a coast-to-coast run in a Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG on the Gumball Run—normally a showcase of flamboyant mouth-breathers flaunting the chosen lifestyle, but here a product demonstration to the tires’ longevity. Another customer hit a foot-long metal rod into a front tire, and “I continued home and the next morning, all I had to do was put air in the tire. No repair was needed!”
The Rhinotire has been around the motorcycle realm for some time now, and there are videos on Youtube (some from Rhinotire itself) demonstrating a motorcycle’s resilience against nail-studded planks. But Fields’ operation is the first American distributor of the tires. Fields sees Rhinotires hitting it big with commercial and fleet operators, who definitely need a tire that lasts as long as it can.
Currently, Rhinotires are available in short supply in America. Fields has a lot of challenges ahead of him: the machine that applies the gel to the tires is huge and costly, and the cost has to be reflected to the consumer: about $75 to $100 per tire, according to a lowball estimate. The gel is manufactured in Europe somewhere and isn’t readily available. The Rhinotire USA website is strangely lacking in details and half under construction, while a crowdsourced fundraising effort seems to have more information than the website itself (and as of this writing, still underfunded). A previous Rhinotire distributor failed to drum up interest and secure the materials from Europe.
Let’s hope Fields fares better. Already, he says that a major international tire company is interested in applying the liner to its tires. Whether Fields gets bought out or keeps on expanding across the country himself, Rhinotire looks too good to be true—we hope it isn’t.
Source: Detroit News