REVIEW: Tannus Tyres - Aither 1.1

Review: TANNUS Aither 1.1 tyres


The last 20 years have seen unprecedented technological advances in the bike industry: from frame design and materials to suspension forks, disc brakes, drivetrains and wheels. Not to mention the myriad (and frankly ridiculous) new ‘standards’ for bottom brackets, headsets, bars, stems, even axles. But the humble inner tube has endured since late Victorian times. Incredible isn’t it? So when Tannus tyres started to appear at shows last year — potentially heralding the demise of the inner tube — people’s reactions were somewhat mixed. Many greeted them with a reserved ‘mmm, interesting’ stance, while others were instantly dismissive. We’d sat in the former camp until we got the chance to fit the office Brompton with a set of the Aither 1.1 tyres.

First things first, Tannus tyres are not solid rubber; they are solid but they’re made from an advanced EVA polymer. And the technology’s not new — they’ve been supplying midsoles and outsoles to companies like Nike for 20 years.

The key questions are: how do you fit them and how do they actually ride? Well there’s no escaping that the fitting is a faff, but keep in mind that you’ll only ever have to do it once (until the tyre wears out). A series of pins have to be pushed through holes in the tyre’s base. then the tyre is rolled onto one side of the rim in similar fashion to regular clinchers, before you use the special tool to seat the remaining pins. One wheel takes 20-30 minutes, but you can get a dealer to do it for you. Out on the road for the first two or three rides you get a weird, almost sketchy feeling, a bit like riding a tyre at the wrong pressure, but that’s normal says Tannus.

After that it’s smooth rolling, certainly as fast as the Brompton’s standard tyres, though perhaps marginally less forgiving on the bumpiest surfaces. Two compounds — hard and soft — are available and we opted for the harder, equivalent to about 100psi. Pothole hits were as jarring as ever, but you don’t come away with a flat!

For smaller-wheeled bikes around town these are going to be hard to beat. They’re expensive but what price on knowing that you’ll never puncture again? We’ll reserve judgement on the larger 700c models until we’ve tried them, but don’t be surprised to see Tannus fitted as standard on city bikes and hire bikes before long... JK