If you’ve only ever used the pneumatic (air-filled) tired wheelbarrows, you’re likely to have dealt with the common issues of a deflated tire – wasted time, energy, and a whole lot of frustration.
And if you’ve been looking for alternatives, you may have come across the flat-free wheelbarrow tires. But are they just as good as the air-filled tires?
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires are excellent performers in transporting materials and heavy objects. While they generally cost more than air-filled tires, flat-free tires offer excellent durability and consistency due to the wheels being filled with polyurethane foam instead of air.
Many gardeners have made the switch from air-filled wheelbarrow tires to flat-free. In this blog post, I’ll be weighing the pros and cons of flat-free wheelbarrow tires. So keep reading to see whether I recommend flat-free wheelbarrow tires!
What Are Flat-free Wheelbarrow Tires?
What gives “flat-free” tires their name is their construction of it.
Flat-free tires are usually made from solid polyurethane foam, a material also used in foam insulation panels, gaskets, and carpet underlays. Polyurethane comes in a wide range of stiffness, hardness, and densities, giving it a range of applications.
Since this type of tire is essentially made from flexible foam, it will not deflate if you pierce a nail through it – hence the name “flat-free” wheelbarrow tires.
Reasons Why Flat-free Wheelbarrow Tires Better
As the construction of the tire is made from foam as opposed to air, this gives it several advantages:
1. They Require No Maintenance
With air-filled tires, you must ensure that they’re pumped to the recommended air pressure before use. There’s a risk of sharp objects puncturing the tire, leading to a loss of pressure and the eventual flat tire.
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires are purposely built to avoid the inconvenience of flat tires.
Gone are the days when you need to check the wheel pressure before starting a big landscaping job, and there is no need to stress about running over sharp objects.
As flat-free tires are made with rubberized foams, they don’t need air to remain inflated. You can simply pick up the equipment and start loading soil or whatever your task is.
The construction of the flat-free wheelbarrow tire is one continuous process, which means it’s bonded as a single object. Even if the tire wears several holes throughout, it will remain sturdy and intact for you to continue the job.
Also, the outer layer of flat tree tires is usually thicker, which gives it superior resistance to damage against all kinds of friction.
The flat-free tires wear more evenly throughout their surface than air-filled rubber tires. With the wheel’s body being filled with solid mass, it can maintain its rounded shape regardless of the stress of loads, bounce, and scratches.
2. They Last Longer
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires are more permanent and durable because the solid polyurethane foam is water and heat-resistant. This means that the tire will not crack or decay like rubber tires.
As mentioned earlier, filling the tires with solid material eliminates the need to add air to remain inflated. So, even if you accidentally run over some loose nails, the flat-free tire can still be used. This eliminates the need to buy a new tire altogether.
They have a longer service life, between three to five years, or even longer, depending on the usage. You don’t have to worry about after-sale returns and warranty issues.
3. They Offer Convenience
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires offer a stress-free experience so you can focus on the job at hand.
Flat-free wheelbarrows are good for those who don’t want to waste time having to fill the tire up or worry about treading over nails. Just pick up the wheelbarrow, and you’re good to go.
If you’re a professional landscaper doing a big gardening job for a customer, you’d need a wheelbarrow tire to withstand the job without having to replace a flat one. So that means there’s no need to carry an air compressor around.
Many manufacturers and retailers like to market the convenience factor of flat-free wheelbarrow tires.
For example, the front page of Marathon Tires promotes customers to buy flat-free tires to:
“…eliminate downtime caused by flats because they are solid tires of lightweight, micro-cellular polyurethane!Marathon Tires
Our airless tires are non-marking, and provide the bounce and feel of pneumatic tires with the benefit of no flats. Our flat proof tires will keep your equipment rolling!”
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires do a good job for most applications as long as they’re not overloaded above the recommended maximum capacity. For the casual gardener, flat-free is the superior option over air-filled ones.
What Have People Said About Flat-Free Wheelbarrow Tires?
If you’ve read until this point, you can probably tell that I’m a fan of flat-free tires!
But don’t take my word for it – search for online reviews of flat-free tires, and you’ll find overwhelming positive reviews. I’ve gathered a few from Amazon:
- “I love that I’ll never have to deal with airing it up before getting to work. It rolls smoothly over all terrain, from my cracked driveway to the low, muddy part of the yard we’re filling in. No squeaking, no bogging down, no drama.” – Kay
- “I did not want to mess around with another tube-style tire and worry about inflation, cracking, or maintenance and or only about $8 more I got this flat-free wheel.” – Uncle Long Hair
- “Great for seldom used wheelbarrow. No more unexpected flat tires.” – Jack Henriksen
- “I wish I had bought this years ago. This is the tire that should have come on the wheelbarrow. No more flats!” – Tim Mullins
Still not convinced? Check online for more flat-free wheelbarrow tires for yourself!
Problems With Flat-free Wheelbarrow Tires
Every piece of equipment has its own downfalls, and the flat-free wheelbarrow is no exception. So now, let’s have a look at the potential issues with flat-free wheelbarrow tires.
1. The Appearance of Flat Spots
As flat-free wheelbarrow tires are made from polyurethane foaming material, it is prone to flat spots. These are flat marks or imprints that have been pressed against the wheel. The problem here is that moving the wheel from a stop to a roll will be much more difficult.
Flat spots occur when the polyurethane foam wheel has been with heavy loads and stationary for too long.
Instead of the air in the wheelbarrow tire being compressed, the polyurethane foam is being compressed, which causes deformation of the wheel.
In addition, heat buildup in polyurethane or its interaction with liquids in some flat-free wheel manufacturers can cause internal softening of the wheel’s material. And so, when gravity and pressure are applied against the ground, the tires develop a flat spot.
However, flat spots can be completely avoidable by completely offloading after use and storing them in a cool and dry environment.
2. More Resistance
The second nuisance with flat-free wheelbarrow tires is that they give more rolling resistance when carrying heavy loads.
It will not absorb shock and vibration and won’t be as quiet. It also tends to be more slippery on wet surfaces, which might be a consideration if working under damp weather.
3. More Expensive
Flat-free wheelbarrow tires are generally more expensive than their air-filled competitor tires. They have a higher price point because they’re built to last longer and are much more convenient.
Though, the monetary and time savings from having to replace flat tires make it a worthwhile investment.
The Verdict – Should I Buy a Flat-Free Wheelbarrow Tire?
The flat-free wheelbarrow tires are increasingly becoming a popular choice, and the reasons are quite convincing:
- No risk of tires going flat
- No need to check for tire pressure
- Saves time
- Stress-free and convenient
- Easy to use
The Caster Guy