Michelin has developed a new technology called Acorus to help protect low-profile tires and wheels from damage caused by potholes. Acorus essentially consists of a pair of flexible rubber flanges which are attached to a special alloy wheel and can help absorb the shock caused by the potholes. This will allow motorists to use low-profile tires without the risk of damage when they encounter potholes.
Michelin developed Acorus in collaboration with wheel manufacturer Maxion. Irrespective of the tire used, use of this technology and the wheels that are specially designed can minimize the damage caused by potholes.
The starting point for the Acorus system is a special, aluminum-alloy “wheel body.” Two flexible rubber flanges are attached to the wheel, and the tire used for the vehicle is mounted to the flanges. When the vehicle passes over a pothole, the flanges flex right along with the rubber sidewall of the tire so that there is no damage to the tire or the wheel. For those who are worried about the appearance of the wheel, there is a cosmetic trim piece that could be used to give the wheel a different look.
The key issue is whether the use of the technology really makes a difference when it comes to big potholes. Michelin said that when tests were conducted with a 285/30R21 tire which was driven through a pothole, use of the standard rim variant resulted in a puncture to the tire at 28 kph [17 mph]. When a Flexible Wheel with the Michelin Acorus technology was used, it did not sustain any puncture or damage at any speed. The tests were conducted in a vehicle that was driven over a pothole 80 mm deep (3.1 inches), 700 mm long (25.6 inches), at a 70-degree angle of impact.
Pieter Klinkers, the CEO of Maxion Wheels, said that the technology would serve as a game changer for wheels. Michelin said that use of the technology would be beneficial for the environment as fewer tires would end up on the scrap heap while they still have tread.
Unlike the TRX tire-and-wheel system which offers use of only a limited selection of tires, any tire in a 19-inch wheel size or of a bigger size can be used with this system. TRX was a system that was developed to improve handling and comfort even with low-sidewall tires and though motorists rated the system highly when it came to handling and performance, the size factor led to low demand
Michelin said the name Acorus comes from “‘Acorus Calamus,’ a wetland plant that has the appearance of a reed and is based on the premise that ‘a reed bends but does not break.’
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