Michelin Reinvents the Wheel

You know the old saying “don’t reinvent the wheel.” The bright minds at Michelin and Maxion didn’t get the memo and we’ll all be able to enjoy the benefits soon.

Michelin and Maxion team up

This monumental project to reinvent the wheel has been a cooperative effort between two of the biggest brands in tires and wheels, Michelin and Maxion. The wheel itself, which will be known as the Maxion Flexible Wheel features Michelin Acorus Technology.

It started with a problem

Tires on modern vehicles just keep getting bigger and bigger. While this adds to their aesthetics and overall visual appeal, it does create some problems on the road. The larger, low profile tires that have become more prevalent on the market are extra vulnerable to damage, particularly sidewall damage. While this isn’t much of a concern on well-maintained streets and highways, it’s a major concern in other areas. Sure, you could just try to avoid potholes on the road, but that’s not possible in all driving situations.

Hitting a large enough pothole with sufficient speed can damage your tire or even the rim itself. This is even more of a risk with large diameter low profile tires. The Maxion Flexible Wheel emerged as the solution to this problem.

The Maxion flexible wheel

The concept of a flexible wheel was made possible by Michelin’s Acorus Technology and the experts at Maxion. The core of this novel creation contains a Maxion wheel body. On each side of the wheel body, there’s a Michelin Acorus flange. These flanges are flexible and once the tire has been mounted they sit between the tire and the wheel body. The Maxion Flexible Wheel is also available with an optional cover or trim.

The magic of this wheel lies in the Michelin Acorus flanges. Their flexibility absorb the impact of potholes, providing the necessary give to make the idea possible. The Maxion wheel body in the middle was designed to work with them perfectly.

If you’re wondering about the name Acorus, it was inspired by a classic fable about an oak and a reed. The moral of the story is that the reed can bend without breaking. The acorus is a plant that’s similar to a reed.

Performance in testing

You could talk about a new idea all day, but the proof is where the rubber meets the road. Luckily, Michelin was eager to see how these wheels work. To find out, they set up a test pothole and rounded up some standard tires and wheels to test against. The pothole used was just over 3″ deep and about 27.5″ long with an impact angle of 70°. With the sheer size of the pothole, it’s certainly big enough to make the test fair.  If you happen to find a pothole bigger than this in your area, you may want to rethink some of your routes.

Of course, they were able to hit that menacing pothole with enough speed to cause damage. And in this case it didn’t take much. The tire punctured with a hit at just under 18 mph. For reference, this was with a 285/30R21 tire on a standard rim.

The performance of the standard wheel was disappointing but not surprising. The Maxion Flexible Wheel was tested with the same type of tire. This was where the testers really started asking for trouble. They hit that pothole not just at 18 mph, but faster. However, each time the result was the same. Neither the tire nor the Maxion Flexible Wheel was damaged. This level of performance is huge for anyone who has to deal with potholes, especially when low profile tires are involved.

The details

With something that brings such a radical change to the marketplace, there are always questions. Aside from exactly when these marvels of engineering will be available to the general public, there’s the question of what tires they’re compatible with. The short answer is, no need to worry. These wheels will be compatible with the tires you would normally use, starting at 19″.

It’s also important to note that the innovative design comes with a few other benefits in addition to their incredible durability. Ride quality, noise levels, and handling are all improved.

The Maxion Flexible Wheel developed with Michelin Acorus Technology is a radical innovation. These wheels will allow people around the world to stay safer on the road by minimizing the dangers typically posed by potholes. They’ve been a big success so far with their stunning test results. Many of us are just waiting for a chance to buy them. In fact, that’s the next biggest question. When will the Maxion Flexible Wheel be available on the open market?

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