William Liao

April 12, 2021

The wheel is overrated

SMART, a startup founded in 2020, revealed an airless bicycle tire based on NASA technology in March this year. 

This tire in question doesn’t require inflation and can champion all kinds of terrain with its unique ability to return to shape at a molecular level without losing its structural integrity over time. 

In other words, yes, they reinvented the wheel — a superior one in all the ways that matter. 

The warning to not reinvent the wheel is based on the logic that what’s already been created is perfect and doesn’t need changing. 

This is a well-intended albeit sometimes misguided bit of advice that quickly loses its credibility when you realize that virtually everything in this world is capable of change and advancement — even if you don’t know exactly what that advancement will look like. 

Some solutions really are that good, and the caution to not reinvent is a kind suggestion that your attention is probably better spent on optimizing other problems. 

Other times, the solution — the wheel — is overrated. And the caution to not reinvent is simply born out of an aversion to change because change is hard. 

In both cases, the message is the same on the surface: do not try to change things

But where would we be if we always followed that advice?