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Tyre History: The Key Developments Over Time [Infographic]

Tyre history plays a very important role in the today’s tyre market. This blog post looks at the history of tyres, monitoring why inventors such as Charles Goodyear and John Dunlop have played such a major role in the history of tyres.

The infographic below highlights the key points in tyre history.

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Development of Rubber Tyres

In 1839, Charles Goodyear invented vulcanised rubber. This was a major development in tyre history as it opened the door for the market of rubber goods. Goodyear discovered that to improve the durability of natural rubber, sulphur needed to be added.

Pneumatic Tyres

In 1846, Robert William Thomson patented the vulcanised rubber pneumatic tyre. However, this invention did not take off as Thompson would have hoped. This was due to the lack of demand as motor vehicles were not yet invented. It was over 40 years until the next development of the pneumatic tyres.

The year of 1888 was a key moment in tyre history. John Dunlop was trying to improve the comfort of his son’s bicycle. From here, Dunlop managed to invent the pneumatic tyre which he noticed drastically heightened comfort levels. Unbeknown to Dunlop, Thomson had already patented the pneumatic tyre back in 1846. From this, the Dunlop Rubber Company was established after winning a legal battle against Thomson. John Dunlop went on to sell the company and never really benefited financially from the invention.

In 1891, detachable pneumatic tyres were invented by the Michelin brothers; Edouard and Andre. This tyre formation consisted of a tube bolted on to the rim.

Radial Tyres

The first radial tyres were developed by Michelin in 1948. Steel-belted radial tyres were used to improve durability. The advantages of this meant longer life and increased mileage for the vehicle.

In 1975, Pirelli produced the wide radial tyre. This provided the ability to drive for an increased number of miles. The durability was improved to ensure even tread wear. This rigid construction extended the tyre-life dramatically.

The future of Tyres

Overall, we have seen heavy tyre development, especially in Formula One. Through research and development, tyre brands such as Pirelli are constantly looking to develop their tyres. At this moment in time, we are yet to see anything as revolutionary as previous key points in history. However, there have been concepts, with a major one being the Michelin Tweel announced in 2005.


Jack Underwood

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