Firm on the inside, squishy on the outside
With the two having worked independently on similar ideas, German companies Schwalbe and Syntace have joined forces to introduce a dual-chamber tyres system for bicycles. As rims have trended wider (thanks in no small part to Syntace’s super-wide wheel line), traction at low pressures has improved, but the liklihood of rim strikes has increased.
Recognizing practical lower limit of around 20psi in current tubeless setups, but looking for the traction and reduced rolling resistance that even lower pressures can provide, Schwalbe has developed a system with dual air chambers. The outer chamber can be run as low as 14psi to allow the tyre to conform closely to the ground; greatly improving traction and control. A separate inner chamber allows the rider to run somewhat higher pressures against the rim, better supporting the sidewall: improving bead retention, reducing burping, and reducing rim strikes.
The system is said to be compatible with standard tyres and rims, suggesting some sort of fixed-volume inner tube arrangement.
According to Schwalbe, with this system the tyre becomes the most sensitive cushioning element on the bike. In addition to increasing traction, the ultra-low pressures serve to prevent small bumps from reaching the suspension, let alone the rider.
Given the 200g tentatively added by this system, it is likely to be initially seen on more gravity-oriented models, but if the benefits are as great as the companies suggest aren’t too high to be adapted for trail use.
While Syntace has been and will continue to be involved in the system’s development, Schwalbe will be responsible for the as-yet-unnamed system’s production and marketing. The two will continue to refine the system as the season progresses, expecting to release more information on the design, pricing, and any pending patents by Eurobike 2014.