Tire (UK: Tyre) Propelled Launch Coasters use a motorized tire to move the train along the track. Motorized tires are commonly used, in stations and brake runs to maneuver the train into position or on lift hills in lieu of chains/cable, but sometimes they are also used to launch trains. Tire launches are typically configured in one of two ways.
A series of tires are positioned horizontally between the track rails which drives through a fin attached to the underside of the train to propel it.
A series of tires are positioned vertically between the track rails. As they rotate, they connect to the underside of the train to propel it.
Bullet at Selva Mágica in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Roller coaster design legend Anton Schwarzkopf patented the friction wheel propelled coaster in 1980. The technology was first employed in 1982 on the Wiener Looping shuttle coaster at Wiener Prater in Vienna, Austria. Due to complaints from local residents about its noise during testing, the ride never opened to the public and was relocated to Boardwalk and Baseball in Florida, USA. The coaster took up residency as Bullet at Flamingo Land in the UK between 1991-2005, before opening in 2013 at Selva Mágica in Guadalajara, Mexico.
INTAMIN FAMILY LAUNCH COASTER
Intamin are renowned for creating record breaking roller coasters using Hydraulic Launch technology, but the company also offers tire propelled launch coasters which are more suitable for younger riders because the acceleration is less intense. Intamin Family Launch Coasters use both the horizontal and vertical tire positions. The first to open in 2008 was Jet Rescue at Sea World in Australia and in 2020 Intamin installed Objectif Mars, the first tire launched spinning coaster, at Futuroscope in France.
B&M LAUNCH COASTER
Incredible Hulk at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida, USA, is the only tire propelled launch coaster created by Swiss manufacturers Bolliger & Mabillard. The coaster opened in 1999 and accelerates from 0-40 mph (64 km/h) in two seconds. It is widely considered to be one of the best roller coasters in the world.
GERSTLAUER TIRE PROPELLED LAUNCH
In 2012, Gerstlauer combined a shooting dark ride, a spinning coaster and a tire propelled launch to create Gekion Live Coaster at Tokyo Joypolis in Japan. Two years later the highly regarded Firechaser Express opened at Dollywood in Tennessee, USA. A more traditional family coaster, Firechaser Express features a reverse launch as well as a forward one.