How far in advance do tyre manufacturers do their R&D work?
Answered by Mark Sears, Product Support Manager for Dunlop UK
Research and development never stops. The R&D teams are always reacting to the challenge and looking to be first with technologies in the market place.
Relating this to our new Roadsmart III, we have to ensure the product works on different bikes and in different terrains and climates so there is a lot of physical testing that goes into the development of a tyre prior to its launch. This all happens once the work has gone into the computer-aided designs which we might use to develop tyres.
For example, we had technical specifications and drawings of the finished Roadsmart III over a year before the launch, however the tyres had to be thoroughly tested in all conditions. Testing in this way gives accurate figures on things like mileage and wear rates. These are very important factors to a sports-touring tyre. Tweaks would have been made to the tyre after the physical testing as part of its development process.
As soon as a tyre is launched, work has usually already begun on its successor. This is what the R&D teams do − they constantly evolve and develop in line with many external and internal factors. It is an ever-evolving cycle.
During development of the Roadsmart III, Dunlop engineers completed a 31-month test and development programme comprising an incredible 1.2 million kilometres (746,000 miles) of evaluation. They evaluated over 200 different tyre compound and construction options and the intensive test programme focused on new materials, tread concepts and advanced compound development to get to the final tyre specification.