Air-filled vs solid tyres – which is best?

May 18th 2020

Should you opt for air-filled or solid tyres?

When it comes to buying an e-scooter or e-bike, one of the most important questions that you’ll face is whether to opt for a model fitted with air-filled or solid tyres. After all, they represent the only contact patch between you and the ground, so they’re truly fundamental to the quality of your ride. 

Although both have their merits depending on your needs, it can be difficult to work out which is best for you. And, once you have decided, it can have a big influence on which e-scooter or e-bike you opt for, as brands tend to offer specific kinds of tyres with their models. 

Here, we simplify this consideration for you by separating fact from fiction, giving you everything you need to know to make an informed decision. 

Two forms of air-filled tyres 

Air-filled tyres, like those found on the Pure Air Pro and Xiaomi M365, and all of our stocked e-bikes, come in two forms: tubed and tubeless. While the general idea is very similar – an air cavity is inflated to support the tyre – tubeless tyres differ because there is no tube for the air to inflate 

Instead, like a car tyre, air is sealed inside thanks to a tight fit between the wheel rim and tyre itself.  

Although there are some benefits and drawbacks to each of the tubed and tubeless formats, air-filled tyres in general achieve the same goals. They both produce better all-round ride quality and improved grip, as well as lower levels of rolling resistance and are sometimes easier to fit for the home tinkerer. 

The solid tyre 

Solid tyres, found on e-scooters like the SoFlow SO2 and Ninebot-Segway ES2, are exactly what they claim to be – solid rings of rubber that sit around your wheel rims. The natural and obvious upside to a solid tyre is the complete puncture resistanceSolid tyres are also a fit-and-forget method, requiring less maintenance overall. 

These factors alone appeal to many potential e-bike and e-scooter buyers, but it’s definitely worth considering the real benefits and drawbacks of each solution before making a decision. Here are the six key factors that you should keep in mind, and to help you out we’ve also identified which method wins for each category. 

Six key factors

1. Ride quality 

    Winner: Air-filled tyres 

    When it comes to day-to-day ride quality, air-filled tyres definitely beat their solid counterparts. Ride quality can encompass a few factors, but these boil down to your overall ride experience, including elements such as cushioning and compliance, confidence and grip.  

    Fundamentally, air-filled tyres are better at deforming under impact (such as when mounting a small kerb or rolling through a pothole), making obstacles much easier to scale. Additionally, that deformation also provides significant shock absorption, resulting in a more comfortable ride.  

    This makes living with your e-scooter and e-bike much easier on a day to-day basis. 

    2. Rolling resistance 

    Winner: Air-filled tyres 

    A well-established benefit of air-filled tyres is lowered rolling resistance compared to solid tyres. This is due to reduced mass (weight) that is rotating around the rim of your wheel, as well as a smaller contact patch on the ground compared to solid tyres. 

    For e-bike riders – who use larger wheels and tyres – this reduces the effort that it takes to move forwards, while the motor doesn’t have to work as hard in order to assist youtherefore improving battery and longer-term motor life. 

    When it comes to e-scooters, these benefits are magnified even further thanks to the reliance on a throttle. Your motor and battery system is almost entirely responsible for all of your forward motion, so reducing the resistance that it needs to overcome is truly important for both achievable range and speed.  

    3. Puncture resistance 

    Winner: Solid tyres 

    When it comes to puncture resistance, solid tyres have the edge over air-filled tyres: if there’s no air, then it’s impossible to puncture. For many, this is a powerful plus point. However, the equation is not quite as simple as it seems because not all tyres are created equal 

    All tyres are built for purpose. For example, for urban e-bikes, tyres are designed to be thicker and more hard-wearing than e-road bike tyres, where lightness and speed is a greater priority. Some more premium tyres also come with more advanced internal puncture protection layersSo, with a high quality tyre from a reputable brand, you may find that this is enough puncture protection on its own, especially if you ride routes that are regularly cleaned and maintained. 

    Air-filled tyres can also be fortified with puncture prevention fluid, further safeguarding against punctures while retaining their key benefits. This fluid can be inserted into the air cavity, creating a layer of self-hardening fluid that can block holes from sharp objects almost instantly. Read our blog on five reasons why you should use puncture prevention fluid to find out more here.

    4. Grip 

    Winner: Air-filled tyres 

    The properties of air-filled tyres also make them more effective at gripping the ground in almost all situations, which improves safety across e-bikes and e-scooters. Their superior ability to deform increases the contact patch and the time that a tyre is in contact with the ground, improving the grip that you have. 

    Air-filled tyres also tend to be created using ‘stickier’ rubber compounds, although solid tyres have also made strides forward in recent years in this regard. 

    Tyre pressure can also be adjusted (within recommended ranges) if you have air-filled tyres. For example, lower pressurewithin these ranges can be more effective at giving traction on looser surfaces, as well as in wet conditions, which can’t be achieved with solid tyres. 

    5. Maintenance 

    Winner: Solid tyres 

    If you want a fit-and-forget solution, then solid tyres are the marginally stronger method. The fact that they can’t puncture is an obvious plus pointwhilst even if you get a sharp object lodged in one, most of the time you won’t notice (and almost all of the time you’ll be able to keep on riding). 

    Solid tyres also arguably wear more slowly thanks to often being constructed of a harder compound. That said, when they do wear, their performance drops off at a sharper rate thanks to the flattening of the of the upper surface of the tyre. Once tread has worn away in both types of tyre, they should be changed as the main grip-giving layer will have worn away.  

    6. Ease of fitting/removal 

    Winner: Air-filled tyres 

    When it comes to replacing a tyre, whether due to natural wear, ageing or because of damage caused by a puncture, air-filled varieties have the edge thanks to their more flexible sidewalls. This allows you to gain easier leverage with tyre levers, enabling you to pry the tyre off the rim a little more easily. 

    The same applies in reverse when fitting a new tyre, but it’s also worth noting that wheel size plays a role in how easy it is across air-filled and solid tyres. Smaller wheels like those found on e-scooters (and some folding e-bikes) have tighter tolerances, which can make it tough to remove and refit a tyre.  

    Because of this, we carry out thorough checks at our stores and service centres to verify the integrity of a tyre, as well as offer a tyre replacement service should you need it. You can find our store information and contact us here to book your appointment here.

    Conclusion 

    Both air-filled and solid tyres have their uses, and it’s likely that by now you know which you’re leaning towards if you have a particular need. For some, solid tyres will offer peace of mind thanks to their inability to puncture. 

    However, in almost all other respects, air-filled tyres win out in a head-to-head – especially when you consider the everyday benefits that include better ride quality, higher levels of grip, which both contribute significantly to safety, and potentially faster and more efficient performance of your e-scooter or e-bike. 

    Currently, all of our stocked e-bikes come fitted with air-filled tyres as standard. When looking for your new e-scooter, use our handy search tool which will enable you to filter air-filled or solid tyres quickly and easily.  

    E-scooters with air-filled tyres

    E-scooters with solid tyres

    Back to all Articles

    Articles you might also like

    VIDEO: Six easy tips to help you maximise your electric scooter’s range

    When it comes to claimed e-scooter ranges, there can be a fair amount of confusion for riders. In our latest YouTube video, presenter Michelle shares her...
    Read More

    VIDEO: Top 5 cycle commuting hacks

    For many, one of the main reasons to buy an electric bike is to help them get to work in a cleaner, healthier way. Available...
    Read More

    Inokim launches new Quick 4 electric scooter

    Inokim has lifted the covers on its latest electric scooter – named the Quick 4 – complete with a new 600W-rated motor and up to...
    Read More

    Basket

    You have no items in your basket
    Total £0.00
    View your Basket
    FREE delivery or Click & Collect

    when you spend over £100

    UK-wide service & repair

    13 stores across the UK

    • Amazon
    • American Express
    • Apple Pay
    • Klarna
    • Maestro
    • Mastercard
    • PayPal
    • Visa
    x