Bike Style from Inside: Get to Know Michelin

Michelin has been building bicycle tires for 125 years and continues to innovate to enhance your riding experience

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Micheline Protek City Cycling Tires

We admit that tires don’t seem like the most exciting part of a bicycle but the more you learn about them the more interesting they become. After all, the tire is the only part of the bicycle that makes contact with the road and arguably one of the most important parts of your bike. No matter your knowledge about tires we are certain you know the name Michelin, maybe you’ve heard of the Michelin Man, one of the world’s oldest and most recognizable trademarks.

Michelin is based in Clermont-Ferrand France, where it was founded in 1889 by Edouard and Andre Michelin. What began as a rubber factory making valves and farming equipment evolved into much more when a cyclist needing to repair his pneumatic bicycle tire stopped into their factory. After the brothers spent hours trying to repair the tire, only to have their efforts fail, they began to work on a solution to make the repair process easier. One that would not only reduce the amount of time it took to repair but also no longer needed to be glued to the rim. The Michelin brothers took out their first patent for a removable pneumatic bicycle tire in 1891.

Past Michelin Tire ads give you a good sense of how long they have been creating bicycle tires.

While the story of how Michelin began may surprise you, they have a history of advancement within the tire market and continue to make significant investments into R&D. Whether it is the introduction of the first removable pneumatic bicycle tire in 1891 or the introduction of the radial tire in 1946 at Michelin they pride themselves on being industry leaders.

Today Michelin is one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world and makes tires for every type of cyclist. No matter the type(s) of bike you own or the terrain you ride on you’ll be able to find the perfect tire to enhance your riding experience. With city riding in mind Michelin created the Protek line of tires, designed for multi-terrain riding: on asphalt or offroad. The Michelin Protek provides excellent grip on wet and slippery surfaces thanks to its rubber compound and progressive siping with more grooves on the shoulders. The tread design, with a uniform center pattern, helps provide improved comfort and performance. The 1mm anti-puncture reinforcement guarantees effective protection for hassle-free everyday use. Sounds like the tire of our dreams.

We caught up with some of the folks at Michelin and asked them a few questions so we could get to know them and their Protek line of tires a bit better. Thanks Michelin!

MM: Why was the Michelin Protek line created?

M: The Protek line was designed to keep riders on their bikes by offering the best flat protection available.

MM: What makes the Protek tires ideal for the urban cyclist?

M: Flat protection and comfort. The goal of every cyclist is to get where they want to go, but urban cyclist are forced to deal with uneven roads and unusual obstacles. The Michelin Protek line focuses on flat protection and rider comfort, so the cyclist can focus on the ride, not the road.

MM: How many different tires are there in the Protek lineup?

M: We offer 5 Protek options. Protek and Protek MAX are designed for city roads, while the Protek Cross and Protek Cross MAX give you a deeper tread designed for on or off-road use. The MAX versions of each enhance the flat protection by increasing the flat protection layer on the crown of the tire from 1mm to 5mm’s. But if you’re looking for the most enjoyable riding try our Protek Urban. We use aramid fibers throughout the carcass of that tire, giving you the highest level of flat protection and a flexible design for enhanced comfort.

MM: What makes these tires innovative?

M: Michelin’s focus is to provide consumers with safe, comfortable, reliable tires and engineers from all sections of our business work together to create tires that do just that. Advancements in tire technology for cars, motorcycles and other devices go into developing the best ride for our bicycle customers.

MM: Whenever a lot of us look at the tread pattern we never know what exactly we should be looking for. Can you explain the tread design of the Protek tires with us?

M: The Protek, Protek MAX and Protek Urban all provide cyclists with a smooth tread for road use in all weather conditions, but the Protek Cross and Protek Cross MAX are designed to handle more aggressive on or off-road applications.

MM: Before you bring a tire to market what type of testing is done?

M: Michelin has 5 dedicated testing facilities around the world where tires are tested under extreme conditions prior to ever being used in real world scenarios. Once a tire passes initial tests we will develop prototype tires for use by Michelin partners that can provide us feedback on tire performance. The timeline for the launch of a new bicycle tire ranges from 1.5 to 3 years.

MM: Any tips or advice that you think every cyclist should know about their tires?

M: Tires are the only thing on your bike that should touch the road so much of your riding experience is determined by what tires you choose. Stay safe by properly maintaining your tires and choose a tire designed for the riding conditions you encounter.

MM: How does a cyclist know when they should replace their tires?

M: Remember that tires are not indestructible and recommended replacement is after 5 years of use. Signs that you should replace your tires are cords showing through the tread or increased wear on select parts of the tire.

MM: Does the bicycle tire department get along with the car tire department?

M: Yes, we are all Group Michelin and employees are encouraged to pursue positions throughout all parts of Michelin. From an engineering perspective it allows Michelin to take lessons learned in tire manufacturing for one segment into another and provide our customers with the best tires possible.

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