Back

The X (Radial) tire is 70 years old

With MICHELIN X in 1949, the first touring tire with a radial body, MICHELIN gave the market what is still today the most important revolution in tires: the radial structure.

actu_70ans-radial_1040x400

 

Between the appearance of the first tires at the end of the 19th century and the Second World War, there were many developments but none fundamentally changed the structure of the tire itself. In 1891, it became removable (Michelin patent), in 1915 carbon black changed its color and made it more resistant. The inner tube became optional in 1930 thanks to the first tubeless tires and the metal frame first appeared in 1937. However, the tire’s architecture remained the same: diagonal or “bias” because its skeleton is made up of steel or nylon threads that cross at an angle of 30 to 40°.

The MICHELIN Radial tire: testimony from Pierre Dupasquier on the youthful defects of the Radial tire.

Pierre Dupasquier, former Competition Director at Michelin, tells us about the high-speed limits of the Radial tire and how competitions helped solve them.

In 1946, the Michelin engineers had a radically new idea: they added an extra thread to the existing diagonal structure to create a 90° angle with the central line of the tire: the radial tire was born! It only had advantages: the part of the tire in contact with the road (the tread) was more rigid which ensured better grip and more endurance.

The sidewalls were still flexible, but their bearing capacity increased, improving driving comfort. The overall distortion was reduced, limiting energy loss and therefore fuel consumption... The Radial tire was safer, nicer to drive, more resistant and more economical (even if it was more expensive to buy)! You can understand why it quickly replaced other types of car tires. Michelin filed the patent on June 4, 1946.

Nevertheless, it did not stop there. Over the years, our engineers not only improved the Radial tire, they also applied it to other types of vehicles. 70 years after its birth, the Radial tire is now on all wheels, from tractors to motorbikes, heavy trucks to airplanes.

Radial: a complete range

  • Radial touring tire - 1949: the Radial touring tire is sold under the name MICHELIN X
  • Radial heavy truck tire - 1952: Michelin adapts the radial technique to heavy truck tires.
  • Civil engineering Radial tire - 1959: MICHELIN launches the first radial tire for civil engineering machines.
  • Radial farming tire - 1978: radial farming tire is sold under the name Bib X.
  • Radial plane tire - 1981: MICHELIN Air X is the first radial tire for airplanes
  • Radial motorbike tire - 1987: sale of the first radial tire for motorbikes.