You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Cashmere cousins Josh Baker and Zak Shearer, both year 11, recently launched Flatless Tyres, a company that uses a foam product which sits inside tyres to stop sharp objects puncturing the rubber and damaging rims.
The foam acts as a spacer between the tube and the tyre and requires no maintenance once it is installed.
The project began when Josh was spending his weekends mountain biking at Christchurch Adventure Park.
But as he started doing bigger jumps and rougher trails, his tyres would puncture every two days, which was a frustrating and an expensive process to regularly replace them.
“I’ve been riding pretty hard, but I kept getting a lot of flats,” he said.
“After trying other options, like going tubeless, I got together with Zak and we started designing and figuring out a better way.”
The 15-year-olds are home-schooled together and make the products themselves.
Said Josh: “We tested many types of foam as we tried to find the perfect type for the flatless tyre.
“This was fun, we smashed foam, struck it with hammers, stretched it and smacked it until it gave in.
“We only chose the best foam that didn’t yield to our abuse.”
The pair won $500 from the University of Waikato’s Seed Fund programme for young enterprise start-ups, which helped to start the project.
The venture was part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, where high school students nationwide get a taste of what it was like to run their own businesses.
Josh said replacement tyres usually cost anywhere between $15 to $25 each, which adds up.
Because of this, they believe the innovation will be a game-changer in the cycling world by reducing costs and waste associated with tyre maintenance.
This was already evident after test riders said it had improved stability on tracks, did not puncture, sustain any damage and weighs the same as standard tyres.
“We haven’t had too many orders yet, as it’s early days, but we’ve had a lot of people ask about it,” said Josh.
“We haven’t seen any products like this in New Zealand, so it feels pretty good that we’re on to something.
“We’re aiming to be at the top of the market and plan to continue our business next year.”