A radical tyre insert design from a UK polyurethane firm is combating punctures on extreme mountain trails.
Putting a complex 3 dimensional moulded shape inside a mountain bike tyre may not seem like an obvious thing to do. But, when a bunch of lunatic downhill mountain bikers from the Lake District wanted to stop their tubeless tyres being punctured, and expensive wheel rims being damaged on sharp trail rocks, they turned to local polyurethane specialists Urofoam.
Rockstop www.rockstopmtb.co.uk is the result of a year’s collaboration between Grizedale Mountain Bike Centre, who drove the project, and the engineering and production team at Urofoam from their factory at the mouth of the Duddon Valley.
Sales manager at Urofoam, Cat Stables explains “The way Rockstop works is by forcing a ridge of tough shock absorbing material against the tyre sidewall just above the rim. It’s effectively a rubberised cushion that gets sandwiched between the rock, tyre, and rim, so when you hit something sharp at speed it won’t pinch your tyre or dent the rim. It’s cleverly designed geometry takes up very little volume, and so it has no effect on the ride feel or tyre air dynamics.”
Taking time out from prototyping industrial components, and bulk volume moulding of foam sports products, this has been a fun project for the team at Urofoam. Designing, tooling, and testing a product that gives immediate feedback from extreme sports fanatics is different from the normal industrial work that comes their way.
Cat says “Usually we get asked to do development work on flexible and integral skin foam components in industries such as automotive, defence, oil, mining – and this forms the bulk of our contract moulding business. But these things – although they can be technically challenging and hugely important – aren’t always the most interesting to talk about. This Rockstop project makes an exciting change – we get to go out and watch our product being raced, and we get customer feedback from as far afield as British Columbia, Poland, and The Alps”.
It’s obvious that Urofoam can offer something different to its customers, with the combination of design, innovation and manufacturing. Looking at the case of Rockstop, in the never ending battle between wheels and geology, it might seem that wheels now have a fighting chance. www.urofoam.co.uk