This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 16.
Getting four punctures in two weeks prompted me to look around for an alternative to the pneumatic tyre for my bicycle. After wandering around a well known large bicycle store, I was recommended a product called ‘Greentyres’ by a sales drone. Although they were considerably more expensive than traditional inner tubes and outer tyres I thought I would give them a go.
Greentyres are not, as their name suggests, green in colour, nor are they especially environmentally friendly. They consist of a thick rubber tyre sealed around a rubber sponge, and are thus unburstable. They are also heavier than normal tyres.
After three weeks of battling through the ordering problems and delays I usually encounter when trying to buy parts from large well known bicycle stores, I received a bag containing the tyres, as well as a large green spatula, two cable ties, and no instructions. It took me a while to work out how to fit a tyre. Here is the method I found the best: cable tie the tyre to the wheel, fit as much as you can by hand, then get a friend to hold it firmly to the wheel rim whilst levering the rest on inch by inch with the narrow end of the spatula. I have yet to work out what the wide end is actually meant for, but it makes a great paint-scraping device.
The tyres have one main problem, and that is that they seem to absorb about 10-20% of the energy you put into cycling. I find that my 30 minute cycle to work now takes 35 minutes. They also have what at first appear to be alarming cornering properties. When you corner, the wheel rims seem to roll on the tyres, which feels as though you have lost some grip with the road surface and makes a strange noise as well, but in actual fact road grip is safely maintained.
The main advantage of the tyres is that you can cycle over broken glass and hawthorn cuttings without fear. I also noticed an improvement in mounting the kerb.
In conclusion, if you use your bike as a town bike or just for messing about on, or you don’t travel great distances but get loads of punctures, then Greentyres are ideal. Long distance commuters and racing fanatics should, however, avoid them. Personally, I’m keeping mine on a spare bike as a fail-safe backup.
Greentyres cost about £36 for two hybrid/mountain bike tyres and can be ordered from most large bicycle stores.
Editor’s note: a floor pump with pressure gauge, to keep normal tyres up to full pressure without much effort, might be a better investment. It improves kerb-mounting and helps somewhat on punctures, if used every couple of weeks.