Bridgestone draws back R&D curtain

New development tires for trailer, line haul and on/off highway applications lead the new technologies on display here at Bridgestone Firestone North America Tire’s (BFNA) annual dealer meeting

SAN FRANSCISCO. New development tires for trailer, linehaul and on/off highway applications lead the new technologies on display here at Bridgestone Firestone North America Tire’s (BFNA) annual dealer meeting. Dubbed Bizcon 11, this year’s meeting has brought 900 heavy-duty tire dealers, distributors, truck-stop operators and BFNA employees together for two days of business and technical seminars.

Among the test tires on display are replacements for the M720 and M725 drive tires for single axle and other high-torque applications. Both evaluation tires add more rubber with a 26/36-in. tread depth, yet lower rolling resistance with a new compound, according to Guy Walenga, director of engineering for commercial products & technologies. New center block designs in the tread also offer better resistance to irregular wear, he said, resulting in tires that should improve fuel economy while also offering longer initial tread life.

A potential replacement for the premium line-haul steer R287 tire replaces the current five ribs with just four, but still manages to control irregular wear, Walenga said at the technology demonstration. It also features a new casing design and compound intended to deliver better overall mileage and fuel economy.

A number of on/off highway evaluation tires were also on display, including an all-position wide-base replacement for Bridgestone’s M844 that should improve shoulder wear and a replacement for the L312 front-axle drive tire with a deeper tread depth for concrete mixer applications.

Among the new commercially available tires on display, the L320 drive represents “a philosophy change” for Bridgestone’s on/off highway products, Walenga said. The new tire, which replaces the L312, retains an aggressive tread pattern for good traction in off-road conditions, but uses a new compound better suited for more on-highway use.

In the past, BFTNA designed its on/off highway products for a 50/50 ratio of highway and off-road use. The new tire, which is suited for a wide range of construction applications, is intended to see on-highway use 90% of the time. Expected to make its way into much of the Bridgestone on/off highway line, the change better reflects actual use in construction fleets, according to Walenga.

To comment on this article, write to Jim Mele at jmele@fleetowner.com

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