Solid Tyres - Are They Worth It?
This is a question that a lot of our customers ask us when they are considering purchasing an electric scooter. Almost everyone who is at the point of picking up their very own e-scooter, whether it's their first one or an exciting upgrade, has heard or read about the difficulty of changing e-scooter tyres and repairing punctures on small electric scooter wheels.
When you're riding an electric scooter, your tyres are the only point of contact between you and the road beneath you. As such it's important to give consideration to the type of tyres you are going to have installed. To simplify this decision, you are essentially deciding between performance and convenience.
LOCO Scooters operate a Dublin electric scooter repair centre and provide nationwide service fixing all sorts of makes and models of electric scooters. Without any doubt electric scooter puncture repairs make the majority of the work that we carry out on a daily basis and in a lot of instances the customer has attempted the repair themselves without success before seeking our services.
There are two types of air-filled tyres seen on e-scooters and those are tubed and tubeless. Technically speaking there's little in the difference between the two, a tubed tyre has got an inflated butyl rubber tube inside which retains the air. A tubeless tyre forms a perfect seal against the wheel rim and is then inflated without the need for a tube. Solid tyres are usually thin strips of rubber surrounding the wheel rim which do not require inflation and do not contain any air. At LOCO Scooters we typically install semi-solid honeycomb tyres for electric scooters as these retain some of the softness of air-filled tyres.
There's no argument when it comes to performance - air-filled electric scooter tyres out-perform solid and semi / solid tyres. The primary reason for this is their distort-ability under pressure, meaning their ability to deform when going over irregular surfaces such as bump, stones and potholes. This increases the surface area of the tyre which is in contact with the road surface at a particular time, thus optimising grip.
Speed / Battery Life
Due to their lower weight and better grip, air-filled tyres allow you to achieve your electric scooter's maximum speed and range from a single a battery charge. You could expect to lose up to 1km/h off your maximum speed and 10% off your maximum range per charge
The obvious downside to air-filled e-scooter tyres is their tendency to suffer from punctures. Small pieces of debris like glass, thorns and nails / tacks are among some of the most common offending items which we find buried inside punctured tyres. A lot of the time there's not much that the rider can do other than to try to avoid obvious debris on the street but a lot of the time you won't see this until you've ridden through it.
An often overlooked requirement of air-filled tyres is the need to ensure that tyre pressure is maintained correctly. On almost all electric scooter punctures that we repair, the non-punctured wheel will have very low tyre pressure - in some instances as little as 20PSI when it should have 55PSI. This can cause the tube to become pinched by the wheel rim when riding over uneven ground, often resulting in punctures. Under-inflated tyres allow for improved grip but more likelihood of puncturing and reduced top speed and range. Over-inflated tyres mean reduced grip as less of the surface area of the tyre is in contact with the road. If the centre of your tyre is displaying disproportionate signs of wear compared to the outsides, then it may be the case that you are over-inflating your tyres.
Solid / Semi-Solid Tyres
As mentioned above - some solid tyres will result in reduced grip. It's important to note however that a lot of the models of electric scooters that Segway Ninebot have released to date have solid tyres so reduced grip does not mean unsafe, it means a minor decrease in tyre performance. Opting for a semi-solid tyre with good thread-depth is key to ensuring performance if you do opt to install semi-solid tyres or solid tyres on your e-scooter.
One of two key positives to installing semi solid tyres on your electric scooter is not needing to think about tyre maintenance - at least not in the short term (you should consider changing them every year / 18 months). You can simply 'fit and forget' with no need to worry about your tyres letting you down.
You likely don't need me to tell you that the standout benefit from installing semi-solid tyres or solid tyres on your electric scooter is that they are PUNCTURE-PROOF! No more pushing your e-scooter the rest of the way home, no more being late for work due to a puncture and cursing your tyres. If you're after reliability then semi-solid tyres are the way to get that.
As they are more dense than air-filled tyres, solids and even semi-solid tyres can be slightly 'stiffer' on the road than air-filled tyres. This means that your average rider will feel more of the road that they drive over, especially if the surface is uneven.
If you are happy to forego about 1km/h from your top speed and 10% from your maximum range as well as a slight increase in the stiffness of the ride, for the benefit of having no down-time from punctures or damaged tyres, then semi-solid tyres are for you. Retailing for €60 a pair plus fitting these will not only save you time and stress but also save you money over time as you will no longer have to pay for tubes and puncture repairs.
If you opt to stick with air-filled tyres then it is absolutely critical that you have a pump at home. Check out our portable compressor pump from Xiaomi here.
If you'd like to talk to us about getting the tyres changed on your electric scooter please get in touch - we can supply and fit either air-filled tyres or semi-solid tyres whichever suits!