Specialized Brings Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to Mountain Bike Tire Design
Seeking a little more info on the 2012 Ground Control mountain bike tire prototypes that just showed up at our door, we opened a real can o’ tech talk, charts and graphs from Specialized. Yes, the forthcoming Ground Control borrows the original’s name, but that’s it. The tire claims to be the first ever designed with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) prior to having a mold ever made.
Specialized’s Nic Sims says: “This is the first tire we have that has gone through the FE analysis process, and we are currently the only company doing this. What this allows us to do is mimic loads put on knobs to see what they will do when under load, so it allows us to get a better starting point on new tires. The old and usual method is to think up a design, commit to a mold and then build some test samples and ride them. If this does work, then it is back to square one and you repeat this process until you get it right. This is a costly process and if you get it wrong can cost you a model year in launching. With the FE analysis we start with a tire that on the computer we know what it will do before we commit to the mold, so theoretically we have the tire we want. Obviously the ride quality is a big thing and there will always be a lot put on that part of development but the FE stage can eliminate a lot of wasted molds and cost of test samples that don’t work.”
Sims confirmed that the new Ground Control is a 2012 tire that should be available in July. It’s an all-around tire similar to The Captain, but has 18% better rolling resistance than its sibling. Pricing is TBD. More after the break…
In addition to the FEA, Specialized looks to be introducing Adaptive Tread, which will also go on the 2012 Fast Trak tires. As a design element, Adaptive Tread looks like it’s their way of giving the tires decreased rolling resistance when riding and climbing while improving cornering and grip in the turns and descents.
Compared to the 2011 Fast Trak tire on their website now, the images above and below definitely show a new tread pattern for this tire.