Tire – definition, applications, components, types, & material

The most popular way of recognizing tires or tyres (British English) is the view in the automotive sector. Although tires can be designed on applications that require to be transported. It is a ring-shaped component that surrounds a wheel’s rim to transfer a vehicle’s load from the axle through the wheel to the ground. It provides traction on the surface over which the wheels travel. Today you’ll get to know the definition, applications, materials, components, diagram, types, construction, performance characteristics of a tire.



What is a tire?

A TIRE (American English) or TYRE (British English) is a circular-shaped component designed to transfer a load of an application through the wheel to the ground and to provide traction on the surface over which the wheel travels. The most common applications of tires are for transportation purposes such as automobiles and bicycles. They are pneumatically inflated structures that provide a flexible cushion that absorbs shock as the tire rolls over a rough surface. Tires provide a footprint called a contact patch, designed to match the weight of the vehicle with the bearing strength of the surface that it rolls over. It achieves this due to its bearing pressure that will not deform the surface excessively.

Synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric, and wire, together with carbon black and other chemical compounds are materials used for modern pneumatic tires. They consist of a tread and a body. The tread is what provides traction while the body provides containment for a quantity of compressed air.

Applications of tires

There are different types of tires out there designed for specific purposes. The applications of tires are in the automotive sector, in fact, all vehicles use tires but they differ according to the vehicle type. They may be distinguished by the load they carry and by their application, e.g., motor vehicle, aircraft, or bicycle. Light-medium duty tires are used on trucks and vans to carry the load of a specific range but differ from light-duty tires used on passenger cars on their drive wheel. Also, heavy-duty tires are used on large trucks and buses.

There are some other special tires used for specific purposes such as snow tires, which are used on snow or on ice. High-performance tires, all-season tires, all-terrain tires, and mud-terrain tires. Metal tires are used on locomotives and railcars. Solid rubber or other polymer tires are used in various non-automotive applications, such as carts, casters, lawnmowers, and wheelbarrows.

All types of vehicle tires including cars, bicycles, motorcycles, buses, trucks, heavy equipment, and aircraft are pneumatic. Other heavy non-automotive applications can be design to use these tires. Although varieties of industrial applications have distinct design requirements.

Materials and components

The production of a tire starts with bulk raw materials such as rubber, carbon black, and chemicals. It features numerous specialized components that are assembled and cured. Many kinds of rubber can be used in tire production, but the most common is a styrene-butadiene copolymer. The materials of modern pneumatic tires can categorize into two groups; The Cords that make up the ply, and the Elastomer that encases them.

The cords, which form the ply and bead provide the tensile strength necessary to contain the inflation pressure. it can be composed of steel, natural fibers such as cotton or silk, or synthetic fibers like nylon or Kevlar.

On the other hand, Elastomer forms the tread and encases the cords to protect them from abrasion and hold them in place. This is a key component of pneumatic tire design. It can compose of various composites of rubber material.


A tire comprises several components including tread, bead, sidewall, shoulder, and ply.

Tread – this is the part of the tire that comes in contact with the road surface. The portion in contact with the road at a given instant in time is called a contact patch. The tread is a thick rubber or rubber/composite compound design to provide an appropriate level of traction that does not wear away too quickly.

Bead – is the part of the tire that contacts the rim on the wheel. The bead is typically reinforced with steel wire and compounded of high strength, low flexibility rubber. It seats tightly against the two rims on the wheel to ensure that a tubeless tire can keep air without leakage. The beat fit is tight to ensure the tire does not shift circumferentially as the wheel rotates.

Sidewall – is the part of the tire, often in a bicycle tire, that bridges between the tread and bead. The large part of a sidewall is rubber but reinforced with a fabric or steel cord that provides tensile strength and flexibility. It contains air pressure and transmits the torque applied by the drive axle to the tread to create traction but supports little of the weight of the vehicle.

Shoulder – is the part of the tire at the edge of the tread, making a transition of the sidewall.

Plies – are layers of relatively inextensible cords embedded in the rubber to hold its shape by preventing the rubber from stretching in response to the internal pressure.

Diagram of a tire:

tire-construction, material, and diagram

Types of tires

There are different types of tires out there suitably designed for various applications. Tires can be categorized into two; tube and tubeless tires. The first version of tires were simply bands of metal fitted around wooden wheels to prevent wear and tear. Early rubber tires were solid and not pneumatic. Today, the most common and popular types of tires used in vehicles are pneumatic tires are classified as tires with tubes. These tires are of different grades starting from the low-duty to medium and then heavy-duty types. However, they are designed to provide traction, resist wear, and absorbing surface irregularities. They are also designed for rider comfort, noise, fuel economy, braking, etc.

Tubeless tires are also pneumatic tires that do not require a separate inner tube. Semi-pneumatic tires have a hollow center, but they are not pressurized. They are lightweight, low-cost, puncture-proof, and provide cushioning. Most often these tires are designed with the wheel and even integral ball bearings. Semi-pneumatic tires are used on lawnmowers, wheelchairs, and wheelbarrows. They can also be used in industrial applications.

Read more: Understanding tube and tubeless tires

Airless tires are non-pneumatic tire that is not supported by air pressure. they are commonly used on small vehicles, such as golf carts, and on utility vehicles in situations where the risk of puncture is high, such as on construction equipment. Tires used in industrial and commercial applications are non-pneumatic.

Solid tires are those used for lawnmowers, skateboards, golf carts, scooters, and many other light industrial vehicles, carts, and trailers. Solid tires are often used in material handling equipment like forklifts.

Performance characteristics of a tire

A tire must meet the following performance characteristics:


  • Balance – an even distribution of mass around their circumference to maintain tire balance, while turning at speed. Manufacturers checked for excessive static imbalance and dynamic imbalance in tires using automatic tire balance machines.
  • Centrifugal growth – tires develop a larger diameter due to centrifugal forces from higher speeds rotation. This forces the tread rubber away from the axis of rotation.
  • Pneumatic trail – is the trail-like effect generated by compliant tires rolling on a hard surface and subject to side loads, as in a turn.
  • Slip angle or sideslip angle – is the angle between a rolling wheel’s actual direction of travel and the direction toward which it is pointing.
  • Relaxation length – is the delay between when a slip angle is introduced and when the cornering force reaches its steady-state value.
  • Spring rate – is the ratio of vertical force to vertical deflection of the tire, and it contributes to the overall suspension performance of the vehicle.
  • Stopping distance – performance-oriented tires have a tread pattern and rubber compounds designed to grip the road surface, and so usually have a slightly shorter stopping distance.

Read more: Working principle of manual and automatic transmission systems


  • Camber thrust
  • Circle of forces
  • Contact patch
  • Cornering force
  • Dry traction
  • Force vibration
  • Rolling resistance
  • Self-aligning torque
  • Wet traction.


  • Load sensitivity – is the behavior of the tires under load
  • Working load – the workload of a tire is monitored so that it is not put under undue stress, which may lead to its premature failure.


Treadwear – occurs through normal contact with roads or terrain. Poor wheel alignment can cause excessive wear of the innermost or outermost ribs. Also, gravel roads, rocky terrain, and other rough terrains can cause accelerated wear.

Related Article:


The most common applications of tires are for transportation purposes such as automobiles and bicycles. They are pneumatically inflated structures that provide a flexible cushion that absorbs shock as the tire rolls over a rough surface. It is a circular-shaped component designed to transfer a load of an application through the wheel to the ground and to provide traction on the surface over which the wheel travels. That is all for this article, where the definition, applications, materials, components, diagram, types, construction, and performance characteristics of a tire are being discussed.

I hope you get a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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