||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 5 to 7
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||all-season, alphabetic, bias, bias-ply, braking, butyl, general-purpose, perpendicular, plies, radial-ply, rayon, Run-flat, self-propelled, self-sealing, tubeless, wheel-rim
||Robert Thomson, John Dunlop, Dunlop Tire Company
Feedback on Tires
By Trista L. Pollard
1 We see them on bicycles, trucks, airplanes, and automobiles. However, what do we really know about tires and how they entered the world of transportation? If tires could talk, their treads would probably share their tales of travel, mileage, and wear and tear throughout the years.
2 Tires, made of rubber and fabric, are attached to the outer rim of vehicle wheels. They first rolled onto the scene before the 1850's. Pre-1850's tires were made of solid rubber and were not used widely on self-propelled vehicles. (Today solid rubber tires are used in special situations like industrial trucks in factories.) During the late 1800's, two inventors helped to introduce the pneumatic rubber tire to the world. These tires were made of rubber and enclosed air instead of solid rubber. Robert Thomson, a Scottish civil engineer, was the first to patent this tire. In 1888, a Scottish inventor named John Dunlop patented a pneumatic bicycle tire. Dunlop's tire was a commercial success, and as a result, he started the Dunlop Tire Company. It is a variation of this early pneumatic tire that is still used today.
3 Modern pneumatic tires have four main parts: a body, a tread, sidewalls, and beads. The body of the tire is made with layers of rubberized fabric called plies (singular form is ply). The plies help to give the tire its strength and flexibility. The fabric is usually made with rayon, nylon, or polyester cord. The plies are covered with sidewalls and treads. Both sidewalls and treads are made with chemically treated rubber. Sidewalls are the outer walls of the tire. The part of the tire that comes into contact with the road is the tread. Tire treads have deep and shallow grooves and channels to help improve the vehicle's traction or tire grip while driving. The depth of the grooves and channels depends on the condition of the road surface. For example, snow tires will have deeper grooves and channels to provide better traction in the snow. They may also have metal studs that protrude or stick out from the tire to provide extra traction on icy roads.
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