Return, regrind, reuse: Gecko on its cellular rubber technology – Characteristics

Millions of bicycle tires are thrown away every year in the UK – the question of how to deal with waste is an important one for business, especially at a time when many companies are increasingly aware of their sustainability. Gecko has patented a new lightweight, foamed cellular rubber technology, where old tires can be returned, ground and used in the manufacture of new bicycle tires – with potentially up to 30% of the new tire being recycled material.

In fact, an independent life cycle assessment analysis of the Gecko tire has shown it to be at least 70% less harmful to the environment than an equivalent pneumatic bicycle tire. “I started my own company about 16 years ago to develop foam cellular rubber technology for use in tires,” explains Richard Adams of Gecko. “You would often find bikes in sheds and garages with flat or cracked tires that weren’t in use. We thought the answer would be a solid tire.

“Solid tires have been available for many years, but they don’t have a very good reputation. We came up with something quite new and radical that makes a big difference – but really until then they were difficult to fit, they don’t offer a lot of grip and comfort. They are not durable – certainly not recyclable in a tire. We thought there were limits, so we developed the Gecko bicycle tires.

Gecko tires are made from a single compound that can be recycled, Adams continues. “If you look at a normal bicycle tire, like car tires and other tires, they are made up of a number of different compounds and they are virtually impossible to recycle. 95% of all bicycle tires go to landfill, as do many inner tubes. “

Strong performance
Another important element of the Gecko tire is its performance. While the durability aspect of this one is appealing to many, it still has to work – and be better than what’s already out there. “Our technology adheres very well, we have good comfort, and we have developed our own easy-to-install clip system,” Adams continues. “It takes less time to dismantle the tires than to mount them. “

Gecko’s unique tire mounting clip system uses reinforced polyamide clips, which are also 100% recyclable, located on the inner rim profile of the tire that lock into each other when the tire is mounted on the tire. wheel rim. Once the clips are properly seated in the rim bead recess, the natural elastomeric rubber qualities of the Gecko tire ensure the clips are retained in the rim for the life of the tire.

“We have hit the problem areas of solid tire systems, so we hope that once people get to grips with Gecko tires, there won’t be as many bikes in garages with punctured and cracked tires. will lead nowhere. People will be encouraged to use them. Solid tires also last much longer than pneumatic tires, Adams says. On average, bike sharing systems that have used its tires say they last at least twice as long as puncture-proof tires. And it will be very similar for people who use the tires on their own bikes.

Work with dealers
Long-lasting tires also mean people have less need to return to their local IBD for service – something that may put off some cycle retailers as they will have fewer opportunities to sell new products to customers, Adams says. “However, I think there will be more bikes used and used more regularly, and dealers will then have more bikes to maintain. There is a bit of reverse logic there.

“A few dealers we spoke to are very happy to do this – they love their durable nature and they are very happy to put them on people’s bikes. This number is increasing and I think it will increase quite quickly. Gecko will also be offering discounts on subsequent orders of returned used Gecko tires – so they can be recycled into a new tire. He will look for centers, for example bicycle shops and workshops, for the tires to be returned.

“We’ll give them a discount to share between the end user and the reseller,” Adams says. “It gives them an incentive to return the tires to us – we’ll give them money back on their next order.” I am trying to develop a truly sustainable system which we believe will give us a neutral cost. Because we are handing over the materials – at a lower cost than it was originally to be done – we will be able to balance the books. “

Is the cycling industry doing enough?
Many sectors of the cycling industry are striving to become more sustainable, and given how healthy, low-pollution and sustainable cycling is, it is encouraging to see how some companies are moving towards a greener future. “It’s a great platform for us to promote Gecko tires,” Adams says. “We want to work with dealers.

“The only performance issue with solid tires, even ours, is that they aren’t as fast as a fully inflated lightweight tire. Because we have such a comfortable rubber that grips so well, we can switch to a very low profile tread and have a racing tire that has the same type of weight as pneumatic racing tires, and so I think that it will be a match for them. But it’s in development and it’s going to take a while to release, it won’t be until next year.

“We have projects in progress, we are going to be interested in MTB tires. For now, we’ll focus on hybrid tires for commuters and e-bikes. Gecko is also launching ‘Rent Tires for Life’, which will allow customers to rent its tires for a monthly fee. They will be guaranteed “the highest quality puncture-proof / maintenance-free / consistently performing tires” for the life of their bikes and this will be linked to the continued support of the dealer’s bike service.

Interested resellers should send an email to info@geckorubber.co.uk.


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Ruby A. Robillard

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