I belong to a bike club here in Berkeley. That is, I pay my dues, subscribe to the email list, and once in a very long while go on a club ride (my riding habit is usually solitary, an effect of taking a long time to get going on weekend mornings).
The club’s email list is mostly informative and entertaining, but sometimes given to extended pissing matches over who knows how much about some arcane (or perfectly ordinary) facet of cycling. The latest example: Member One posted at random about his love of a certain brand of tires for riding in the rain. It’s not the first time he’s touted the brand; I don’t know whether he’s getting a kickback or what. Member Two quickly chimed in, as he did once before, to observe that the tires in question go on the rim very easily — too easily, in fact, because he had one blow off his rim during a ride once. Member Two would never use that brand of tire.
The exchange inspired me. Quoting myself, here’s my contribution to the discussion:
I’ve been experimenting this year with doing away with tires altogether and just riding on some bare old rims that have been lying around the house for years. Straight-away traction, let alone cornering, is a bit tricky until you have a few miles on the unadorned rims. That’s all it takes for the local pavements to roughen the metal surface and give you a secure grip on terra firma. Talk about getting a good feel for the road! But for the lack of a tire, it’s practically like riding sew-ups.
Old steel rims are particularly fun to ride after dark; as a paramedic I met after one ride said, the chro-mo wheels create "quite a light show" as you career down the macadam. And if that’s not enough to persuade you of the virtues of rubber-less riding — shut your ears to the nay-sayers who complain about the slight increase in noise — just think about the weight savings: Since you don’t need to worry about flats (or tires blowing off) anymore, you don’t need spare tubes, patch kit, tire levers, or pump, either (but just as you would on a pneumatically cushioned jaunt, remember to bring your medical and dental insurance cards with you when you ride rubber-less).
With all these advantages, word on "the street" is that Trek has hooked up with Bridgestone, the Japanese tire and bicycle maker, to develop a more durable "naked" rim for both both road and off-road riding. I’ve also heard that Rivendell is considering offering a new model — tentatively named the "Orc" — equipped with tireless rims and featuring no brakes.
I’ll admit I won’t be satisfied unless at least one club member takes this seriously.