Tyre Technology Takes Another Leap
The world of tyres is marked by famous names and innovators. Goodyear was the first to develop the process of vulcanisation – this makes rubber waterproof and winterproof and preserves its elasticity. Dunlop, who invented the first practical pneumatic tyre. Goodrich added carbon to the rubber to make tyres last longer. The Michelin brothers, who developed pneumatic tyres for use on automobiles.
Michelin (the company, not the brothers) has been at it again. It has developed what may one day become a mainstream product: the Tweel. In this article, you’ll learn how the Tweel works, and why it might be the tyre you’ve been waiting for.
Introducing the Michelin Tweel
It takes a long time for small acorns to grow into strong oaks, and similar can be said of advances in tyre technology. The Michelin Tweel has been in development for more than a decade.
Michelin wanted to develop an airless tyre for cars. Imagine no punctures and longer life. Safer driving and lower costs in the long run. A dream? Not with the Michelin Tweel, though the Tweel is more than a tyre. It’s a tyre and wheel (hence ‘Tweel’), and a feat of engineering ingenuity.
Why Do We Need the Michelin Tweel?
The trouble with air-filled tyres is that they can puncture. If they do, the result can be fatal. A blowout at high speed is a terrifying experience, especially if it’s on a busy road.
Even if you don’t suffer a blowout, a flat tyre (or one that is not inflated correctly) affects the tyre’s performance. Underinflated tyres cause poorer handling. Overinflated tyres lose grip. If you don’t inflate your tyres to the correct tyre pressure, you’ll have worse driving experience, and use more fuel. The tyres will wear unevenly, and you’ll need to replace them more often.
Most drivers don’t maintain their tyres well. They don’t check tyre pressures regularly, even though it only takes a few minutes to do so. Airless tyres remove this as an issue. The Michelin Tweel does a lot more.
What Makes the Michelin Tweel so Special?
The Tweel is a combination of a tyre and a wheel. It’s an all-in-one solution that removes the need for separate rims and tyres. You won’t have to inflate it. When you drive over a piece of debris, the Tweel shapes itself to that debris, keeping more contact with the road and maintaining a better grip. This also means you have smoother driving experience.
It accomplishes all this because of how it is made. Spokes run the entire width of the Tweel, and they can bend – forwards, backwards and sideways. Yet they are rigid enough to maintain their solidity. They deform to the terrain and then spring back into shape. A little like a sponge when you grip it tight.
The spokes can be made to different tensions, so Tweels can be manufactured for different uses. Greater flexibility makes for a more comfortable driving experience with the bonus that handling is improved.
Real Benefits of Tweels, but Some Disadvantages Too
As with any technological advance, there are some disadvantages of Tweels. For example, you can adjust pneumatic tyres by altering the tyre pressure, but once a Tweel has been made, it cannot be adjusted.
The Michelin Tweel also suffers from more vibration at high speed, and this results in a louder drive. However, these problems are being ironed out quickly. Already, Tweels are available for a multitude of uses, including for UTV and ATV vehicles. Michelin believes they will be available as a mainstream product for cars by 2024.
To make this happen, tyre manufacturing plants must be upgraded for the new manufacturing processes that are needed to produce the Michelin Tweel. Tyre shops will also need new equipment to mount them onto vehicles. There is a lot of investment that is being made and still is made in removing obstacles to the widespread adoption of Tweels. One thing is certain, though: the Michelin Tweel is the future.
The benefits of driving on Michelin Tweels are huge. They include better performance, safer drives, and greater road safety. The disadvantages are being ironed out. Soon, you’ll be able to equip your passenger car with Michelin Tweels. Right now, it could be the solution you’ve been seeking to take your off-road thrills to the next level.
For more information, contact Darra Tyres today. See the future of driving, today.
Keeping your family and fleet safe on the road,