Airless tires have been all the rage the last few years. Even Michelin has gotten in on the game with Tweels, a combination wheel and tire combo that rids itself of the metal wheel in favour of a rubber mesh pattern that can support the weight of lighter vehicles.
But Tweels (pictured below) are mostly used on landscaping equipment, golf carts, and ATVs. You don’t want your car to look like a lawn tractor, do you?
Instead, you want this: the Michelin Acorus pothole-beating wheel. While it isn’t in production yet, the Acorus combines the best characteristics of a metal wheel (the most important one being it won’t make your car look like a low-budget space buggy) with the shock-absorbtion capabilities of an airless tire to save your car from pothole damage.
The concept works by adding a rubber flange between the tire and wheel, allowing for some give between a tire’s sidewall and the lip of an alloy wheel when it hits a pothole. For those of you who run low-profile tires on wheels measuring 19 inches and up, this might just be the ticket for saving your rims without making you look like a massive nerd driving a luxury car with ATV tweels.
Michelin doesn’t say how well the concept resists debeading when hanging it out around corners, but you should keep those shenanigans to a smooth, closed course anyway, tiger.
Best of all, it works with any tire, not just Michelins—so you can live dangerously with Chinese rubber wrapped around those fancy wheels that cost more than your 12-year-old Audi.
Unfortunately, Michelin is only planning to sell the wheels to automobile manufaturers, and car companies are slightly resistant to change to say the least.
Still, one can hope something like this will come to fruition soon. Until then, Tweel away, rocket dweebs.