Groupe Michelin is beginning to get traction for its polyurethane Tweel airless tire, with lawn and agriculture industry giant Deere & Co. outfitting a line of its commercial lawn mowers with the tire.
Micheline's U.S. group, Micheline North America Inc. launched the Tweel commercially two years ago. Rather than an air-filled rubber tire, the Tweel looks like a wagon wheel with a hard PU inner core surrounded by PU spokes radiating out to the typical rubber outer tread.
The Tweel has been used in loading dock skid steers previously, but now Deere is making it available for its ZTRAK zero-turn commercial mowers.
The tires debuted at the recent Green Industry & Equipment Expo in Louisville, Ky.
The All Terrain, with a deep, open tread designed for more rugged off-road working conditions, will be a viable option for industries such as construction and landscaping. It features high-strength, poly-resin spokes to carry the load, reduce machine bounce and provide improved operator comfort. The spokes are engineered to be self-evacuating in muddy conditions.
The slick-tread Hard Surface tire, which provides more longevity on pavement and asphalt, presents an option for very high-use operations, Michelin said.
Both versions have a deep underlying tread layer that allows the core outside tread to be retreaded repeatedly, Michelin said, helping reduce the overall cost of ownership.
“Our newest versions provide the benefits associated with pneumatic tires, but they don't go flat. This is a breakthrough innovation for skid steers in the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and agricultural industries,” said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies.
“This is just the beginning of exciting things to come.”
Michelin said its contract with Deere is to replace a standard 24x12x12 tire, and offers the landscape professionals who use this type of equipment a flat-free alternative to pneumatics that Michelin claims will last up to three times longer as well.
Deere is making the Tweel Turf available on the 54-, 60- and 72-inch deck sizes of the ZREAK mower.
Michelin said use of the Tweel Turf will yield increased uptime, enhanced hillside stability, reduced operator fatigue and improved productivity.
“We have been working with the John Deere team for several years and the result is a partnership that has the potential to dramatically change the commercial mowing market,” Dimenna said.
Nick Minas, product manager, John Deere Commercial Mowing, said the Tweel Turf could be the last rear tire contractors will ever need for their zero-turn mowers.
The Tweel Turf features a multidirectional tread pattern for hillside stability and to help prevents turf damage and is built with a four-bolt pattern, steel hub that fits a variety of popular zero-turn commercial mowers.