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The 70th anniversary of the radial revolution!

In 1946, Michelin invented what is still today the most important revolution in the history of tires: the radial structure.

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In 1946, Michelin invented what is still today the most important revolution in the history of tires: the radial structure.

From the appearance of the first tires at the end of the 19th century up to the end of the Second World War, there were many changes but none altered the fundamental structure of the tire. It became removable in 1891 (Michelin patent) and carbon black, used from 1915, changed its colour and made it more resistant. The inner tube became optional in 1930 with the first tubeless tire and the metal frame first appeared in 1937. But tire architecture remained the same. It was called a diagonal or “bias” structure because the frame was always made of steel or nylon threads which intersected at an angle of 30 to 40°.

In 1946, Michelin engineers had a radically new idea. They added an extra thread to the existing diagonal structure to make a 90° angle with the tire’s median axis. The radial tire was born! There were no disadvantages. The the tread surface, the part of the tire in contact with the road, was more rigid providing better grip and greater resistance. The sides remained flexible but their load-bearing capacity increased which improved driving comfort. Deformations were reduced limiting energy loss and therefore fuel consumption... Basically, the radial tire was safer, more pleasant to drive with, more resistant and more economical! It’s easy to understand how it quickly replaced other car tires.

But Michelin didn’t stop there. Over the years, our engineers not only improved the radial tire, they also investigated its application on other vehicle types. 70 years after its birth, radial technology is now used on all wheels from tractors to motorbikes, HGV trucks to planes and has even left its tracks on the Moon!