(Image: Tim Bardsley-Smith)
  • Svenness! Can’t wait.

  • Nitro

    Amusing article on Helium / Hydrogen in tyres…

    There have to be some marginal gains to be made somewhere along these lines though since F1 cars (Ok, I know they go a little faster than we do) always fill their tyres with Nitrogen as opposed to air…

    • Paolo

      i vaguely remember the Helium discussion or use in tyres from the late 90’s or so with Telekom. Nothing new…

    • Dave

      The real gain for having Helium in pro cycling would be that it would inevitably be put to mischievous use in a Backstage Pass video!


      The reason for motorsport (and aeroplanes) using Nitrogen is that it does not expand with the heat, and they want their nice low pressures (low pressure = big contact patch = good) to stay nice and low the whole time. Air is ~78% Nitrogen already, but the other 22% is more than enough to make a measurable difference in motorsport.

      Helium would have leakage issues with the pressure differential between a bike tyre and the atmosphere outside it.

      The hypothesising about Helium comes and goes on motorsport forums as well as in cycling forums. Ted Kravitz did the numbers in a segment on Sky Sports F1 a couple of years ago and came up with a potential saving of about 10g per tyre – which is nothing considering that F1 teams already ballast their cars to not only meet the minimum weight but also manipulate the weight distribution. With that in mind, I think the estimation of saving 15g by using it in bike tyres is actually quite optimistic.

      Helium did get a run in F1 a couple of years ago when Mercedes-AMG used it to power their rattle guns instead of compressed air. It quickly spread all the way along the pit lane, before being quickly banned on cost cutting grounds as soon as every team was doing it and so there was no more competitive advantage.

      • Nitro

        Thanks for the additional science input. I had heard that Nitrogen in F1 tyres was something to do with stability…
        Was more than amused when my local auto tyre place was promoting that they’d filled my Land Rover tyres up with Nitrogen instead of air – a true sign of marketing over substance !

        • Dave

          It’s not completely without merit though. I’ll always pump my car tyres to the lowest end of the recommended range at the start of a longer highway trip instead of the usual pootling around town.

          About two thirds of the effect is purely due to moisture content, and could be reduced by using dried air (as opposed to eliminated by using Nitrogen). There’s no need to get dried air in a cylinder, just use a pump or compressor in an enclosed garage after having a reverse cycle air conditioner on for a couple of hours.


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