The pressure is right thanks to the Michelin Bib Gonfleur tire inflator!
While the “inflator” might seem like a simple derivative product today, Michelin orginally developed it as a service to drivers and mechanics. Here’s a peek into the history of the "Bib gonfleur".
Performance plus practicality
A tire's performance depends on both technical factors and the appropriate tire pressure. In the beginning of the 20th century, garages rarely had the necessary equipment to check tire pressure. As early as 1906, Michelin came out with its first tire inflator: a small device that was light and easy to use. Drivers just connected two copper tubes to the car engine, enabling them to check their tire pressure themselves. In parallel, the company also offered a tire pressure gauge. Several years later, Michelin designed an electric inflator: this practical and functional device became a veritable promotional item.
A symbol of Michelin's commitment to safety
With the advent of highways, Michelin continued to innovate by launching self-service tire inflation stations, some of which were shaped like the Michelin Man. In the early 2000s, a new generation of "Bib Gonfleur" inflators was designed to allow all road users to easily check their tire pressure.
Did you know?
The "Light" and "Force" inflators
In the late 1920s, Michelin came out with its first electric models and the inflator became a promotional tool rather than just a "purely" practical product, with the Michelin Man straddling the air compressor and blowing into the air hose as if he were inflating a tire. There were actually two models: one for motorists, called "Light", running on 110V current, and one for garages called "Power", with a 380V motor. They were both very successful. These devices were original and effective, as they inflated tires quickly and easily at an unbeatable price.
A Michelin Man inflator with a global reach
The inflator was sold both in France and abroad as can be seen from the leaflets produced in Spanish, English, German, Dutch and Danish for example. Its worldwide use, particularly in the US, was described in the in-house magazine Bibendum, which was published in the 1920s-1930s. Each product launch also provided the opportunity to repeat the famous slogan "Inflate your tires on the 1st and the 15th!", which was used in a number of different formats to encourage clients to regularly check their tire pressure.