What exactly is a Tweel? In case you haven’t seen one before, the Tweel is actually a cross between a tire and a wheel, hence the catchy if not super inventive name Tweel. Basically this little invention has the capacity to completely shake up the transportation world and forever change how we use tires on our trucks. Both off-road as well as on.
What’s a Tweel?
We mentioned above that a Tweel is literally a wheel and tire made into one. More technically speaking, the Tweel is a tire that has no inner rim and requires no air. You can see through the side of the Tweel since there’s no sidewall to speak of, and best of all, they can’t go flat.
While you may be new to the idea of the Tweel, this amazing invention from tire maker Michelin has been used on everything from skid-steer loaders to lunar rovers, and in each case the Tweel does its job as well as a standard tire, if not better. Currently the only vehicle that comes with Tweels as an option is the John Deere ZTrak 900 lawn mower, but if Michelin has their way, we could start seeing these crazy looking tires on a lot more vehicles very soon.
Currently, Tweels are only recommended for lower speed, off-road applications where flat tires are of the most concern. Most of the reason we don’t have Tweels on our cars and trucks right now is because they are only safe at a maximum speed of around 30 MPH. This doesn’t mean the future won’t hold Tweels for the highway, but for now it’s a small market.
Michelin’s Tweet Research
To try and advance the idea of the Tweel, Michelin actually opened up a $50 million, 135.000 square-foot facility that’ll employ 100 staff members all in the hopes of expanding the Tweel market and ability.
The new facility will allow Michelin to create prototype-making equipment that will allow them to make far more test units than before. The new facility will be located in Greenville, South Carolina.
But Really, What’s a Tweel?
The Tweel itself is actually made up of four key components, all of which are bonded to one another. They are:
- Sheer Band
- Deformable Wheel
- Flexible Spokes
Check out the image below for a visual representation of this.
This means that you can’t take the tire off of the wheel, and that the entire until bolts to your truck and you’re done. This means no bent rims while off-roading, no punctured tired, and no losing the bead of a wheel that’s aired down. Overall, the Tweel could be huge for the off-roading world if Michelin can get the speed up and the durability a little higher. The Tweel has already been tested on both cars and trucks, and in the next 1-3 years don’t be surprised if you find one of these offered for your off-road ride.