1888 - The birth of the tyre
The Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop invented the first usable pneumatic tyre. Many years before, at the beginning of tyre history, there was great competition to improve driving comfort and safety. Dunlop succeeded in substituting air-filled rubber tubes for the metal fittings in the wooden wheels. The tubes made of very thick rubber were wrapped in bandages. They had to have a very high air pressure - more than 10 bar.
The classic beaded edge tyre was developed from this. The beaded edge tyre had beads along the sides of the tyre which were hooked into the rim. Using this system and a relatively high air pressure of at least 3 bar it was possible to stabilise the tyre and its tube on the rim. From then on the beaded edge tyre was constantly being improved and by the end of the 1920s it was used on almost all motorised vehicles in Europe.
1890 - The straightside tyre
While the beaded edge tyre was being developed in Europe, the straightside tyre was invented in the USA. This was the forerunner of the cross ply tyre which followed later. With this style the rubber is no longer hooked into the beaded rim; it lies tightly on a flat rim. A steel rope strengthens the tyre. However, this principle did not catch on in Europe.
1918 - The black tyre
Developement continued rapidly but it was not until 1918 that the Michelin brothers first used soot in the production. This component brought about the black colour that is typical today and also noticeably increased the durability of the tyre. A series of parallel cotton threads known as the tyre cords were then inserted with the aim of increasing stability while also producing less heat.
1920 - White sidewall tyres set the fashion
As the tyre became ever more reliable in fulfilling its purpose, it became popular to add white sidewalls in order to improve the appearance of the car. At the same time the beaded edge was substituted by an internal wire netting. This method of construction is still standard today.
1930 - The cross ply tyre substitutes the tyre cords
In order to continue increasing safety and comfort the cords were crossed over each other at an angle of 45°. This revolutionised the stability of the tyre. The cotton threads were also substituted by flexible yet more stable nylon threads.
1946 - The steel belt tyre, a milestone in history.
Michelin developed the first steel belt tyre in the world. The radial metal thread netting substituted the fabric belt. Tyres are still produced using this method today and it satisfies the ever increasing demands as regards comfort, safety and speed.
1968 - Low profile tyres conquer the market
In this particular year BMW first used a Pirelli tyre with a profile of 70. The cars' constantly increasing power resulting in higher speeds demanded a decrease in volume. Through a decreased side flexing it was possible to reach a much higher level of stability. There was less demand for comfort as regards tyres because both chassis frames and roads were becoming more comfortable.
1975 - The TRX radial ply tyre, a new chapter in tyre technology
The tyre and rim were developed together and were specifically altered to suit the car concerned. This new tyre connected two demands that were in conflict until then: The desire for greater comfort on the one hand and for greater steering precision on the other. Measurements were taken using the metric system. This rendered these rims incompatible with the standard tyres - measured in inches. The TDX made limited driving possible even after a break-down.
2003 - The tyre is a high-tech product
Development is still continuing rapidly. Speeds of over 300 km/h are no barrier for today's products. The use of many different rubber combinations makes a consistent road grip possible at any temperature. Nowadays maximum saftety is given and no driver would go without the optimal anti-aquaplaning system.