Once upon a time, Michelin and bicycles

Once upon a time, Michelin and bicycles

One day, in 1891, a cyclist had a puncture. Since his tires were glued to the rim, they could not be removed, making the repair difficult. So he went to the Michelin factory, which worked with rubber, expecting to find help. Edouard Michelin supervised the repair himself. It took 3 hours, and the tire had to dry overnight! Though Edouard had never been on a bicycle, he took his first laps around the factory yard the next day.

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This experience was a revelation since had never ridden anything so comfortable! Unfortunately, his introduction to cycling was quickly interrupted by a new puncture! Edouard decided the invention needed to be perfected and that repairing a flat tire should not be so difficult or take so long. So Michelin launched the detachable tire.

The Michelin brothers invented the detachable tire

In this ingenious system, the inner tube was contained inside a casing that was not glued, making the tire removable and repairable. Edouard Michelin had overcome the challenge he had set for himself. With his invention, it only took 15 minutes to repair the puncture. An important milestone had been reached. The challenge then became to promote the major advantages of detachable tires.

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The detachable tire in racing

To publicize the invention, the Michelin brothers equipped the bicycle of racer Charles Terront for the Paris-Brest-Paris race. He won the race 8 hours ahead of the second competitor. It was a success, and above all Michelin's first racing victory! A few months after Charles Terront's victory, Michelin improved the invention by reducing the number of nuts and bolts that needed to be removed for repairs. As a result, tire changes were even quicker. Using these tires, the cyclist Dubois set several records at the Buffalo velodrome on July 26 and 27, 1891. Following this new success, the Michelin brothers affirmed, "the future of cycling is very closely tied to its dissemination" and decided to hold a bicycle race the following year to showcase their technological advance. Riders had to race from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris along roads full of obstacles that required them to regularly change their tires. Henri Farman won the race, called the "Course aux clous" (nail race), on Michelin detachable tires, of course!

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Using these tires, the cyclist Dubois set several records at the Buffalo velodrome on July 26 and 27, 1891. Following this new success, the Michelin brothers affirmed, "the future of cycling is very closely tied to its dissemination" and decided to hold a bicycle race the following year to showcase their technological advance. Riders had to race from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris along roads full of obstacles that required them to regularly change their tires. Henri Farman won the race, called the "Course aux clous" (nail race), on Michelin detachable tires, of course!

Michelin tires with better and better performances

Over the years, Michelin improved the quality of its products to provide the best riding experience for cyclists all over the world. Every aspect — raw materials, mixes, tread pattern, architecture, etc. — was carefully examined to keep improving performances in all user conditions — including the most extreme.

More than 120 years later, Michelin is reinventing its offering

Sports, well-being, leisure: the bicycle market is rapidly expanding for a variety of uses. In response to the current health crisis, cycling has become a means of social distancing. And electric bicycles have made cycling more accessible to new consumers, from getting around the city to mountain biking. To conquer the electric bicycle market, the Group is offering the MICHELIN e-Wild tire, specially designed for electric mountain bikes, which demand a lot from the tires. For increasingly popular urban bicycles, Michelin has a safe and robust range: the MICHELIN Protek and MICHELIN Protek Max.

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Michelin is supporting this trend by developing ‘premium’ tires through partnerships with high-level athletes like the Cofidis pro team and top international mountain bikers. Bicycles clearly have an important role to play in the future, and cyclists can continue to count on Michelin's passion and capacity for innovation to embark on even more adventures!
Ulrike Ristau-Hutter, LB2W Bicycle Business Development Director
  • Michelin tires win races!
    • 2019 Elite Men World Champion
    • 2019 New Zealand Downhill Champion
    • 2019 e-Enduro Champion
    • Triple Mountain Biking World Champion in 2018 (Master Men, U21 Men, and Elite Men categories)
    • Several national championship titles in 2019 (France Elite Men, Denmark Elite Women, Netherlands Elite Men, UK Elite Women)...

A new "MICHELIN POWER" range for all uses

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From the first detachable tire to the range of products available today, more than 120 have gone by. And Michelin continues to reinvent our offering. Global bicycle production has quadrupled since 1970, revealing the popularity of cycling and the variety of user needs. To meet these needs, Michelin is offering "MICHELIN POWER," a new, almost completely updated range. The centerpiece of this offering is the new MICHELIN POWER ROAD range, designed to meet the vast majority of needs amateur and expert cyclists may have. It covers 80% of road use, simultaneously ensuring safety, performance, efficiency, and durability. And for more demanding cyclists and thrill-seekers, the Group's R&D staff have developed other specific ranges adapted to each use.

 

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