Thinner and lighter tyres are here… but tyres with no air?
I’ve been thinking about how tyres are changing shape. Okay, not shape exactly, but they are developing. They might look very much like they did 50 years ago, but on the surface and inside, tyres are evolving at one heck of a pace. In years to come, you may even buy tyres without air in them.
Here are four big changes that I’ve noticed.
After years of getting fat, tyres are on a diet
For years, I watched tyres get fatter and wider. The bigger footprint gives better grip and handling. It also increases rolling resistance and increases fuel consumption. In recent years, though, this trend has reversed. Manufacturers have put their tyres on a diet. They’re getting thinner. It makes them more aerodynamic and reduces rolling resistance, leading to lower fuel consumption.
But doesn’t this mean poorer handling capability? Well, it would, except that tyre manufacturers have been innovative with the design. They’ve created tread formations that stick to the road. Today’s thin tyres are as good – perhaps even better – on corners than their fatter predecessors. And they provide better traction for shorter braking distances. Tyre innovation has produced a win/win for drivers.
Tyre manufacturers are fighting a shocking trend
Drivers that come into our tyre shop here in West Brisbane have long been complaining about static electricity. Shocks when they close their car doors, for example. These used to be commonplace years ago. To combat them, you might remember an earthing strip hanging from the back of many vehicles. This problem was largely eliminated as manufacturers added carbon black to tyre compounds.
However, in recent years manufacturers have been producing tyres with less carbon black in the rubber. Consequently, static electricity has increased, and people are suffering more shocks from their cars.
Manufacturers have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Less carbon fibre is better for the environment but leads to regular electric shocks. They’ve come up with an innovative solution. Many modern, thinner tyres are now produced with a strip of conductive material along their centre. It provides an electrical contact between the tyre and the tarmac and reduces electric shocks.
Tyres are getting lighter as well as thinner
Tyre manufacturers are making tyres lighter as well as thinner. Less weight equals lower rolling resistance. Manufacturers have been using a combination of strategies to achieve less weighty tyres. These include using tougher treads to increase longevity and lighter steel in the tyre cords.
In the future, air pressure won’t be a consideration
Airless tyres could be with us sooner than we think. Some commercial trucks and industrial vehicles already use them. Many forklift tyres are non-pneumatic. Manufacturers are developing tyres with a honeycomb interior structure. These increase structural stability and increase the weight that can be carried. They are highly resistant to damage, and even reduce the effects of collisions with kerbs to a vehicle’s suspension.
When you come into our tyre shop in Brisbane, you might not be able to buy airless tyres just yet and the last thing you’ll get is a load of hot air. Contact Darra Tyres today, and you’ll discover that we’re different.
Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,