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Michelin marks a decade of Ultraflex innovations

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Michelin marks a decade of Ultraflex innovations

Michelin North America Inc. is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ultraflex technologies, which enable agricultural tires to operate at lower air pressure, helping to improve tire, machine and crop performance.

To showcase its tire innovations, Michelin invited a select group of farmers, tire dealers and other industry influencers from around the world to attend the tire demonstrations at its research center in Ladoux, France.

James Crouch, farm segment marketing manager for Michelin North America, says Ultraflex technologies enable tires to carry the same load at up to 40% lower air pressure than standard technology radial tires, or up to 40% more load at the same pressure.

“Lower air pressure helps spread the weight of heavy farm equipment, resulting in a larger footprint, which reduces soil compaction,” said Crouch. “Lower compaction helps protect crop yields and offers better traction, which in turn improves fuel economy and productivity in the field.”

Michelin offers Ultraflex tire models for tractors, combines-harvesters, sprayers, crop-conditioning equipment and trailers.

Four Ultraflex tire demonstrations were held at the Ladoux facility in late September.

1. In a safety demonstration, Michelin test drivers maneuvered the latest generation John Deere sprayer, equipped with new 50-inch Michelin VF 420/95 R50 177D SprayBib tires, between cones at a speed of nearly 25 miles per hour, which is very fast for these high-riding machines. The demonstration showed that farmers can safely operate larger machines at higher speeds with Ultraflex tire technologies in their day-to-day operations.

2. The soil compaction demonstration involved driving a tractor carrying a load of nearly 10,000 pounds over a pit filled with thin layers of soil of alternating colors to visualize the impact of tire pressure on the soil. In one test, a standard technology tire was utilized. Then, the air pressure was lowered to simulate an Ultraflex tire. The reduction in soil compaction with Ultraflex technologies could be observed down to a depth of about three feet.

3. For the footprint demonstration, a tractor simulator was used to apply load in a sand pit where a Michelin AxioBib IF 900/60 R42 tire footprint was compared with that of the new Michelin AxioBib IF 900/65 R46 tire (an RCI-50 tire, scheduled for introduction in Europe in 2015 that will be the world’s largest agricultural tire). The larger size and air chamber of the new AxioBib created a 10% larger footprint.

4. The company also demonstrated its new CargoXBib High Flotation tire for trailers, which also uses Ultraflex technologies. This new model can adapt to all types of loads and soil surfaces thanks to a specially designed casing allowing it to work within a wide air pressure range, according to Michelin. The new CargoXBib High Flotation tire will be introduced in North America in the summer of 2015.

Crouch says that Michelin now offers an IF (Increased Flexion) or VF (Very High Flexion) Michelin Ultraflex technologies tire solution for every stage of the crop cycle. For more information, farmers can contact their Michelin tire dealer or visit

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