Bending but not breaking the tire tech rules

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(September 24, 2017) Michelin has joined up with the worlds largest producer of wheels, Maxion Wheels, to reinvent the wheel so that it bends without breaking. According to Michelin Chief Operating Officer, Florent Menegaux: “Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium, and large shiny alloys are an integral part of all modern car designs. However, the resulting low-profile tires with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads.”

The answer is to return the bump absorption properties lost in the move to low-profile tires without affecting tire performance, and doing so in such a way that the technology is compatible with all tires on the market.

The new design combines Maxion’s Flexible Wheel with Michelin’s Accorus Technology flange design to absorb impacts and improve ride comfort. It incorporates flexible flanges on the front and back faces of a specially designed Maxion alloy wheel. Since the alloy wheel is narrower than usual (because the flanges are separate), the Acorus system offers an optional trim package that hides the flexible flange and unique spokes.

“A standard wheel driven through a pothole can damage the tire and potentially crack the alloy rim,” says Pieter Klinkers, Maxion Wheels CEO.

“When our Flexible Wheel hits a pothole, the Michelin Acorus Technology flange flexes to protect the tire and the wheel.”  In tests with a 285/30R-21 tire driven through a 3.15-in. deep, 27.8-in. long pothole at a 70 degree impact angle, the convention rim design caused a puncture at just over 17 mph. The tire using the Flexible Wheel/Acorus Technology combination, on the other hand, didn’t sustain a puncture at any speed.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show earlier this month, the Maxion Flexible Wheel with Michelin Acorus Technology initially will be offered in sizes from 19 inches on up to premium automakers before being offered to mainstream brands or sold in the aftermarket.

The Virtual Driver