About six years ago, Michelin debuted the first Tweel airless tire and wheel assembly, which was originally intended for the skid steer market. Since then it has been expanding its line of Tweel products, which now offers types that fit zero-turn mowers and UTVs
“In 2012 we launched our first Tweel targeting skid steer loaders,” said Olivier Brauen, VP of Michelin Tweel Technology last year when the company introduced its first UTV-compatible version. “Then we moved to the next product for the turf care industry. In 2017 we launched another application for golf carts. The question now is what’s next. And what’s next is the Tweel for UTVs.”
The first UTV Tweel offering had a 26-inch diameter and was meant as a bolt-on replacement for conventional UTV tire and rim assemblies. Just unbolt the tires and bolt on a Tweel.
That initial Tweel offering included just the two most common arrangements, a 4 x 156 bolt pattern, which fit most Polaris UTVs, and the 4 x 137, which fits Can-Am, Kawasaki and Textron UTVs.
This year that initial offering gets expanded. Now Michelin is offering a new 26-inch UTV 5-4.5 inch bolt-pattern hub for John Deere Gator UTVs and Argo XTVs, as well as a 26-inch UTV 4-110 mm bolt-pattern for several Honda, Kubota, Yamaha and Argo ATVs and UTVs.
When the fist UTV Tweels were first introduced they offered only a top speed of the Tweels is limited to just 37 m.p.h. (60 km/h.). Now, that’s been substantially increased, with a jump up to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h.).
“With the new Tweel SSL2, we kept all the key features and improved in some areas,” Justin Brock, marketing manager for Tweel at Michelin, told Grainews earlier this summer. “One is we moved from a chemical adhesion on the hub to a mechanical connection. That mechanical connection is going to be poured with the polyurethane spokes. Now you can’t have any kind of separation there, and it’s going to improve the robustness of it. Also with the spokes we’re using a different indexing. That’s going to slow down the cracking by up to 10 times what it is today. It makes the spokes more impact resistant. It has a stiffer shear beam as well.
That new manufacturing process allows for increased reliability, hence the greater speed ratings.
“Every application has a different limitation and (top) speed,” added Brock.
This year Michelin also made improvements its skid steer Tweels, making 12 x 16.5 versions that will virtually every skid steer on the market.
“One thing to keep in mind with a Tweel is they come with a rim so the offset and bolt configuration can be a bit different,” said Brock. “Ours comes with a standard eight on eight bolt configuration. That fits 80 per cent of the machines. And if you have to fit the other 20 per cent we have a two-piece Tweel where you can buy the hub separately.”
Capacity for the skid steer Tweels is now 4,400 pounds and 15 km per hour.
For zero-turn mowers new 24- and 26-inch 5-on-4.5 bolt pattern hubs were introduced this year.
Michelin Tweels are available through any Michelin dealer to retail UTV Tweels through its regular dealer network and online at michelintweel.com.