Dealing first with N-Flex, the patent pending technology, which was seen as a prototype at the 2017 Agritechnica and launched in the UK at LAMMA earlier this year, relies on heat-treated nylon, sitting beneath the rubber.
Benefits include helping return the tyre to its original shape following impacts and heavy use, and the reduction in the occurrence of flat spots provides operators with a more comfortable ride.
N-Flex also enables the tyre to be run at lower pressures which helps to distribute the weight of the machine and reduce soil compaction. “Incorrect tyre pressure is not only a major cause of soil compaction, but also damages the tyre, lowers work rates and increases fuel consumption,” said Richard Hutchins, agricultural tyre specialist at Continental.
Another technological development is fundamental to the construction of the tyre’s bead; the wire that helps the tyre hold the rim of the wheel.
Many agricultural tyres use as many as 10 individual wires to create one bead. However, multiple joins in the bead can cause weaknesses, reckons Continental, and there is a risk that the tyre can detach from the rim, especially at low pressures.
By using a single wire construction wrapped around the circumference of the tyre up to one hundred times, Continental claims to have created an agricultural tyre that holds its shape, even when run at very low pressures.
“The bead is as important as the rubber and nylon in a tyre,” added Richard. “Our research showed a more flexible tyre with a stronger single bead construction can be run at a lower pressure which helps to reduce soil compaction. Also, tyres with a single wire bead are safer and quicker to fit and grip the rim even at very low pressures.”
Continental has so far applied this technology to combine harvester and tractor (>200hp) tyres. Currently, tractor tyres are offered in 65, 70 and 85 Series from 24” to 42” and combine harvester tyres are offered at 32”. Larger tractor tyre sizes will be available before the end of this year.