This paper develops a simple model for the behavior of a pneumatic tire when vertically loaded. The model is based on the behavior of a thick-skinned spherical membrane (like a basketball) being compressed between two flat plates. The model is reasonably accurate for bicycle, motorcycle, truck, general purpose, and early model automobile tires which all have a circular cross-section. However modern automobile tires have a wide aspect ratio when unloaded, have unloaded line contact with the ground across the tread width, and have relatively stiff sidewalls that contribute to the tire’s load carrying capability (and in the case of run-flat tires can totally support the car’s weight). Thus the analysis in this paper is quantitatively representative for tires of initially round cross-section, like a typical motorcycle tire, but provides only a qualitative idea of the tire support mechanism for modern automobile tires.

Publication Date



Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology (CAST)


RIT – Main Campus