Cutting The Guesswork From Tire Development

Why laboratory tire testing?

Wheel Energy’s rolling resistance machine.

At first glance, the job of a bike tire appears pretty simple. It must hold air and prevent punctures, and if it’s light, that’s a bonus. We triathletes are so focused on aerodynamics—wheels, tires, frames, position and even water bottles—that the performance value of a tire can be easily forgotten. In reality, the tire casing and rubber both have a massive influence on ride comfort, dependability and even the straight-line speed of the entire bike.

Wind tunnels have become an indispensible tool in the development of aerodynamic bike equipment because they quantify wind drag. Instead of speculating about the aerodynamic characteristics of a component or frame, a wind tunnel can precisely measure its wind resistance. Mechanical laboratory tests can do the same for tire performance. By measuring a tire’s flat resistance, cornering performance and rolling resistance by simulating road conditions inside a lab, these tests can eliminate guesswork from tire development.