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Tannus Tires Review

November 3, 2018

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Tannus Tires Review

Tannus Tires promise to deliver 5,000 miles (or more) of flat-free cycling performance, as well as improve comfort and deliver less rolling resistance than the competition.

Made from a patented polymer named Aither, Tannus advertises that their featherlight bike tires deliver the same grip and braking performance as pneumatic models, but feature a 100% solid design that will never go flat.

Their range of road, hybrid, cruiser, folding, and kids tires are guaranteed to attach to your existing clincher rim and provide maintenance-free performance for 5,000 miles (or two years, whichever comes first) with only 1.5 mm of wear.

Tannus indicates Aither is also stain resistant, weighs the same as most tire/tube/rim tape combinations, improves comfort while riding, minimizes rolling resistance, provides a safer overall cycling experience, and is environmentally safe.

And compared to competitors, they tell us theirs are the lightest airless tires on the market, which are available in 12 different colors to match just about any preference.

Tannus Tires, who’s based out of Spanish Fork, Utah, has helped cyclists eliminate flats since 2011. To achieve puncture-free peace of mind, though, there are some potential advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind.

We’ve pooled a wide variety of details together in this quick and easy article, which can help you decide whether or not they’re worth the investment.

What is Aither?

Unsurprisingly, Tannus doesn’t reveal a lot of specifics about their proprietary nanofoam Aither, other than to say that it’s a micro closed-cell polymer resin material similar to what’s used in running shoes.

They’re also quick to point out it’s “totally different from any other foaming technology, both in terms of its process or the condition.”

Because Tannus’s tires are completely solid and aren’t filled with air, the company offers Soft, Regular, and Hard compositions, depending on model and rider preferences. These mimic anywhere between 60 PSI (pounds of force per square inch) and 120 PSI delivered by traditional pneumatic tires.

Related: 7 Tips for Choosing the Right Bike Pump

Note: Regardless of desired PSI, the company points out that riders over 200 pounds might want to choose the Hard compound. Otherwise, you could find a flat spot forming after 2,500 to 3,000 miles.

A cross-section of the proprietary Aither foam used in each Tannus tire, which attaches to the rim wall using individual clips (in red). Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.

The website emphasizes Aither offers the same heat resistance as standard bike tires as well, although you shouldn’t use it on your trainer. Are there any other meaningful differences?

Compared to the “average” pneumatic tire, their FAQ explains Aither foam increases rolling resistance anywhere between 2% and 8%, and is also about 2 g (or, 0.004 lbs) heavier than a “regular road race tire/tube combo.” While this isn’t a lot for most of us, weight-conscious cyclists might find it meaningful.

Finally, Tannus explains that their airless tires require a break-in period lasting between 50 and 70 miles, during which time they might have a “plasticky feel.” They explain that this process wears off the polymer used to break the tires free from the mold during manufacturing.

Another meaningful difference is the time and effort it takes to install and remove a Tannus tire, which we’ll explain in the next section.

Is Installing & Removing Tannus Tires Different Than Pneumatic Models?

Yes. In fact, Tannus recommends having your local authorized dealer install them for you.

Self-Installing a Tannus Bike Tire

If you choose to do the work yourself, the website reports that you should expect the process to take 20 to 40 minutes per tire, depending on size and width. This is compared to the three to five minutes it might take an experienced cyclist to mount a traditional tire.

Here’s a quick overview of what the process involves:

First, make sure the tire’s warm and that you stretch it out beforehand until it’s circular. Then, you’ll choose the correct pin size, which ranges in size between 16.5 mm and 23.5 mm.

Next, using moderate hand pressure, you’ll push one pin into each hole in the tire. After which you’ll make sure the pins are completely flush with the tire using the included s-tool.

Important: The website doesn’t provide specific measurements, but they note that if you have a shallow rim, you’ll want to remove any rim tape before mounting to ensure there’s enough room. You might not need to do this if your rim is deeper.

How can you know the difference in advance? The website only indicates that if “you hear a “Tick, Tick” when you ride,” this could indicate there’s too much room between the tire and the rim. If this is the case, you’ll have to remove the tire (more in a second) and reinstall with the proper pin size.

Next, with the wheel in an upright position, click one or two pins into place with only one end showing, and then work your way down both sides equally while applying constant downward pressure.

You’ll need to use the s-tool for this step. Or, you can shell out an additional $20 for Tannus’s P tool pliers, which provide extra leverage that could make the job faster and more comfortable.

In the left image, we can see Tannus’s proprietary locking pin before inserting between the rim’s sides. In the right image, it’s in place. Keep in mind that Aither foam surrounds these pins, which are not visible once the tire is mounted. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.

Finally, you’ll need to inspect and make sure that all pins are installed correctly under the rim (i.e., that none are visible). You’ll also want to verify that the mid-line is straight and center when rotated, which ensures the tire is balanced.

Until your tires wear out, Tannus indicates that you can remove dirt and debris by washing and then wiping them off like any other bike tire. You can also use commonly available tire cleaners if you prefer.

Removing a Tannus Airless Tire

According to a video on the Tannus website, when the time comes, you can use one of three methods to remove your tire:

  1. Wedge the s-tool up and underneath the tire, so that the lever is sitting on both sides of the rim. Then, while sitting with the rim between your legs, roll the tool toward you, which will dislodge the pins one-by-one. This will save the tire for reuse.
  2. Pull the tire away from the rim with pliers, and then use snips to cut the pins. This will save the tire, although you’ll need new pins.
  3. To avoid potentially damaging your rims, the company recommends cutting the tire completely off using a knife or clippers. Then, simply using a wrench to peel the tire off of the rim, while making sure to remove any leftover pins with pliers.

For additional insight into this, make sure you read through their User Manual.

Now that we have a solid handle on the material used to make Tannus tires, as well as their meaningful differences compared to standard pneumatic tires (including the installation and removal process), let’s find out which models the company offers.

Taking a Closer Look at Tannus Airless Tire Pricing & Models

In total, there are six models available in the Tannus lineup, in 12 different colors. All direct purchases come with a 30-day refund policy, which must be unused and in their original condition, less S&H and a 10% restocking fee:

Slick

The Slick is a race-style tire with no tread, and Tannus tells us it excels in wet conditions. From a traditional pneumatic tire perspective, they say it’s comparable to a Michelin Pro 4 or a Vittoria Corsa.

45-degree angle blue Tannus Slick foam airless tire attached to rim
Tannus’s Slick race-style tire features no tread and mimics the highest pneumatic PSI in the company’s lineup. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.
                                Tannus Slick                               
Category Race
MSRP $80
Diameters Available 700
Widths Available 23C
Rim Sizes 13 – 15 mm
Weight 370 g
Pressure Range 110 – 120 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Soft, Regular, Hard

New Slick

The Tannus New Slick features a slight tread with no edge, which they advertise delivers better cornering, excellent wet weather performance, and the best handling in their lineup.

45-degree angle black Tannus New Slick foam airless tire attached to rim
The Tannus New Slick features a bit more tread than their Slick version for improved handling and wet weather performance. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.

Together, we’re told it’s perfect for road training, commuting, and even aspiring racers, and is comparable to a Continental Gatorskin or Schwalbe Pro One.

                           Tannus New Slick                          
Category Training
MSRP $80
Diameters Available 700
Widths Available 25C
Rim Sizes 16 – 18 mm
Weight 434 g
Pressure Range 100 – 110 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Soft, Regular, Hard

Semi-Slick

The Tannus Semi-Slick also features a slight tread pattern for better tracking, although it’s a bit more aggressive to better suit commuting and touring purposes than the New Slick. The company tells us it’s comparable to a Specialized Armadillo pneumatic tire.

45-degree angle pink Tannus Semi Slick foam airless tire attached to rim
If you’re into commuting or long-distance touring, Tannus tells us their Semi-Slick tire might be right up your alley. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.
                           Tannus Semi Slick                         
Category Road/Commuter
MSRP $80
Diameters Available 20”, 700
Widths Available 1 1/8”, 28C
Rim Sizes 13 – 16 mm
Weight 380 – 460 g
Pressure Range 100 – 110 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Hard, Regular

Shield

Tannus advertises that their Shield model—the workhorse of their lineup, which is available in a variety of sizes—features a slightly more aggressive tread than the Semi-Slick, but just enough to tackle light dirt paths, gravel, curbs, sun, snow, or sprinkles.

Related: A Bike Tire’s Different Layers

When it comes to traditional pneumatic tires, Tannus tells us the Shield is comparable to a Continental Tour or Tour Plus model.

45-degree angle black Tannus Shield foam airless tire attached to rim showing knobby tread pattern
Tannus’s Shield model comes in several different sizes, with a tread pattern that can provide effective traction on a wide variety of surfaces. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd
                               Tannus Shield                              
Category Multi-function
MSRP $60
Diameters Available 16”, 18”, 20”, 22”, 24”, 26”, 27”, 700
Widths Available 1.5, 1.75, 1 3/8, 32C, 1.25, 40C, 1.5
Rim Sizes 17 – 21 mm
Weight 440 – 730 g
Pressure Range 60 – 75 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Regular

Razor Blade

This model features a low, aggressive tread pattern that’s ideal on hybrid bikes for all-around dirt and road riding. In fact, although Tannus compares it to a Kenda Kwick, they indicate it provides “tremendous traction” on many different surfaces, including sand, snow, and on the road.

45-degree angle red Tannus Razor Blade foam airless tire attached to rim showing moderate tread pattern
The Razor Blade, another model that Tannus tells us delivers optimal traction in a variety of conditions, but with a lower, more aggressive tread pattern. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.
                         Tannus Razor Blade                        
Category Hybrid
MSRP $80
Diameters Available 26”
Widths Available 1.75
Rim Sizes 17 – 20 mm
Weight 800 g
Pressure Range 60 – 70 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Regular, Hard Regular

Mini Velo

The Mini Velo is Tannus’s folding and kids-specific tire, which they tell us is also ideal for running strollers. The website explains it’s essentially the same tread pattern as the Shield, just in a smaller size.

45-degree angle green Tannus Mini-Velo foam airless tire attached to rim
As Tannus’s smallest model, the Mini-Velo is suited toward children’s and folding bikes, as well as some stroller models. Credit: Tannus Co., Ltd.
                            Tannus Mini Velo                           
Category Children, Stroller
MSRP $60
Diameters Available 16”, 20”
Widths Available 1.25
Rim Sizes 17 – 20 mm
Weight 280 – 360 g
Pressure Range 80 PSI
Rubber Hardnesses Regular

What Are Online Cyclists Talking About When it Comes to Tannus Tires?

Starting with the most recent top-ranked search results, Cycling Weekly tested Tannus’s tires in March 2018. Overall, they liked that riders don’t have to worry about punctures or carrying related gear, their good wet/dry grip, and the wide range of colors available. Basically, they appreciated its “fit-and-forget qualities.”

On the other hand, they felt the simulated PSI was too hard for UK roads, with no adjustable air pressure based on terrain. They also found the tires challenging to fit, as well as expensive compared to traditional pneumatic tires.

From a rolling resistance perspective, they found they lost between 1 and 1.5 miles per hour, which might not be meaningful on shorter rides, but could quickly add up if you typically ride longer distances.

In October 2017, Road.cc’s Jack Sexty tried Tannus’s tires and came to a similar conclusion: That they provided excellent grip and might be ideal for commuters, but delivered a “frustratingly” slower ride and were difficult to fit. In the end, he noted the tires were “not viable for most road cyclists.”

In April of that same year, Robbie Broughton over at RideVelo tried Tannus tires out for a few weeks and found that they seemed heavier than usual, were unforgiving, and didn’t provide any noticeable difference in ride quality from the beginning of the break-in period to the end of testing.

Combined with the vibration they experienced at speed (so much that it even loosened their bottle cages from their bolts), they summarized that the Tannus tires fell far below expectations.

Are There Other Airless Tires Competing With Tannus?

Unsurprisingly, there’s nothing currently on the market that uses the same Aither foam found in Tannus’s tires. However, there are several other tires offering puncture-free/burst-proof functionality.

From a materials perspective, perhaps the closest competitor is the Nexo Ever Tire, which is made from Nexell macromolecular material.

While it promises to deliver similar flat-free protection and 5,000-mile functionality as Tannus, more than half of its interior is filled with nitrogen (N2), and it attaches via unique T-Bolt design, versus Tannus’s pins. However, the manufacturer doesn’t explain any meaningful differences these aspects might deliver.

Furthermore, Nexo tires are available in fewer sizes and color options than Tannus, and—perhaps most importantly—aren’t currently available in the U.S.

The Schwalbe/Supreme Dutch Airless System involves a blue Airless ring surrounded by white thermoplastic polyurethane (the same material used in the soles of Adidas Boost running shoes) and promises to attach to all bicycle rims.

Unlike Tannus, the Air System is fitted with a special machine at your local certified dealer and is only available in 28” sizes. As with Nexo, though, it’s currently not available in the U.S.

There are also solid inner tubes like Bell’s No-Mor Flat. While you’ll find that some retailers offer them for less than $30 apiece, keep in mind that their weight is measured in pounds, versus grams for competing options.

Finally, the soon-to-be-released Air Fom system uses different combinations and layers of foam to create an adaptable airless bike tire system. Similar to many of the above options, no prices were listed on their website, as the product was set to debut at the 2018 Taipei Cycle Show at the time of this writing.

Should You Give Tannus Tires a Try?

From a features perspective, it’s clear that Tannus places most of their emphasis on flat elimination. If this is your primary concern, then, their foam construction—and online availability—might be difficult to overlook.

As with anything else cycling-related, though, placing prominence on one feature will almost always take away the strength of another. And in the instance of Tannus tires, most online riders reported significantly increased rolling resistance, even after the ‘plasticky’ feel has worn off.

Additionally, at 20 to 40 minutes per tire, it’s reasonable to expect much longer installation times than traditional tire/inner tube combos. And when it comes time to remove, Tannus recommends destroying the tires to avoid potential rim damage.

Then, there’s the $60 to $80 price tag, which is 50%-100% more expensive than popular puncture-resistant pneumatic tires like the Continental Grand Prix 4-Season and the Schwalbe Marathon Plus.

And while Tannus’s 5K-mile guarantee is nothing to sneeze at, Schwalbe tells us that riders routinely report exceeding 6K miles on their Marathon Plusses. As such, Tannus won’t always last twice as long as standard tires as advertised, and you might not necessarily achieve more value from their meaningfully higher price.

Finally, cross-linked (aka closed-cell) polymers, like the ones used to create each Tannus tire, are exceptionally strong and resistant to abrasion and general wear and tear. However, it’s important to point out that while they’re technically recyclable, we didn’t find many companies advertising consumer-oriented recycling services online.

With these caveats in mind, Tannus tires clearly have their niche—it’s just largely a question of whether or not you belong to that niche.

For example, although we didn’t test Tannus tires firsthand, based on what we learned from the company and online riders, they might be ideal for commuters. This cycling niche is often willing to sacrifice some rolling resistance—or, a few minutes during each ride to and from work—for eliminating the possibility of a puncture flat.

But, performance-oriented riders (including those who prefer to adjust the PSI of their pneumatic tires during a ride) might balk at the extra 2% to 8% drag. Which, if you’re a 150 lb rider, is like immediately adding three to 12 pounds to your cycling setup.

Keep rolling: A Step-by-Step Exploration of the Bike Tire Manufacturing Process

Derek is an avid cyclist with more than two decades of experience in the sport, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys all types, including road, MTB, cyclocross/gravel, commuting, and touring. When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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