TECH WATCH

How far in ad­vance do tyre man­u­fac­tur­ers do their R&D work?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

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.

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