Airless Tires are Coming: Polaris Sportsman WV850

The concept of airless tires isn’t a new one – they have been used on small vehicles such as lawn mowers and golf carts for sometime. Airless tires (also known as non-pneumatic tires) have also been used on vehicles designed for operation in construction zones where tire punctures are likely. The value of airless tires is that they don’t go flat – they are generally filled with compressed polymers (plastics) instead of air. But we are now seeing airless tires being used in more conventional vehicles, and among the leading models is the Polaris Sportsman WV850.

Military inspiration

The inspiration for the Polaris Sportsman WV850 is the all-terrain vehicles of the military. Fitted with the airless TerrainArmor tires, the Polaris Sportsman is practically the ultimate four-wheel drive. The TerrainArmor tires are in a different league from the tires designed for use on construction sites – TerrainArmor tires can survive a military assault. A direct hit from a .50-caliber bullet? No problem – the vehicle could still drive for another 350 miles. Stabbed by a railroad spike? Not an issue – the vehicle could still drive for another 1,000 miles.

Clever design

The secret to the durability and resilience of these airless tires is their clever design. The inner structure of the tires is designed as a mesh-like construction – providing support for the weight of the vehicle but maximizing flexibility to absorb the impact of rocks and bumps. A tread design is still used and different requirements can be accommodated by different tread designs. The other features of the vehicle include a steel exoskeleton chassis and a 1,500-pound towing capacity.

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The Polaris Sportsman WV850 retails for around $15,000.

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