PRODUCT: The search for the best solution to flat tires goes on, and the latest chapter comes from Hi Point Tire Co. Hi Point has developed what it calls Integrated Tubeless Technology (ITT) for intermediate-terrain tires. The concept is straightforward enough—the tube and tire are bonded together. If you look inside an unmounted tire, there’s a heavy rubberized fabric where the tube would be. The material is much tougher and less stretchy than a traction rubber tube and is bonded to a regular valve stem. This material joins the sidewall of the tire about an inch from the inside of the bead, so there’s plenty of room for rim locks to do their thing. Within the tire, there’s no actual tube, just the sidewall of the tire itself to hold the air. The idea is that pinch flats from a rock hit are almost impossible. The impact would have to be so great that it would actually break through the casing of the tire. Punctures are still possible, but the people at Hi Point say this can be mitigated with Green Slime or some other sealant.
POSITIVES: We installed a Hi Point 80/100-21 front tire on a test bike for its anti-flat properties, but halfway through the Big 6 GP series we were even more impressed with the tire for its traction and wear. It’s an excellent tire for medium and soft terrain, much like a Dunlop MX3S. The sidewalls are fairly stiff, so there’s very little roll unless you’re running very low pressure. In the front, we never saw the need to do that, although we know several riders who are running less than 10 pounds in the rear with good results. For the Big 6 races, we used about 12 pounds in front regardless of how rocky the course was. We had no trouble with flats. Gordon Ward has also been using Hi Point ITT tires in the same series, running three classes per event. He’s had no flats. Also, having mounted many mousses, we’re pleased that installing the Hi Point is no more difficult than installing a normal tire, once you figure out how to get the valve stem through the hole.
NEGATIVES: ITT tires might keep pinch flats at bay, but they eventually lose air on their own. When left in the garage between races, the tire can lose some of its pressure because of migration through the seams. Regular tires and tubes do this, too, but you can expect to lose half of the Hi Point’s tire pressure in a couple of weeks. Also, we know from experience that sealant isn’t a perfect cure for punctures. Eventually, it will happen.
BOTTOM LINE: Of all the anti-flat schemes we’ve tried recently, the ITT is at the top of the heap. It’s much easier to install and more affordable than a mousse. The fact that the tire works well is critical, because it would be impossible to mix this technology with another brand of tire. Just remember to check your pressure before each ride. So far, the only sizes available are 110/100-18, 110/90-19, 120/80-19 and 80/100-21.
PRICE: $94.29 (80/100-21)
CONTACT: Motoman Distributing: [email protected], (760) 949-0941.