Bicycle mobility has become increasingly popular as a sustainable and healthy means of transportation. Bicycles are not only a cost-effective transportation mode but also help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. However, the efficiency and safety of bicycling largely depend on the optimization of bicycle components, such as the tires. The importance of bike tire optimization cannot be underestimated as it can affect both bicycle dynamics and bicycle performance. Due to the lack of multi-physical mathematical models able to analyze and reproduce complex tire/road contact phenomena, useful to predict the wide range of working conditions, this research aims to the development of a bicycle tire thermal model. The main outcome is to provide the full temperature local distribution inside the tire’s inner rubber layers and the inflation chamber. Such kind of information plays a fundamental role in the definition of the optimal adherence conditions, for both safety and performance maximization, and as an indicator of the proper tire design for various applications, each requiring specific heat generation and management. The experimental validation has been carried out thanks to an innovative test-rig developed at Politecnico di Milano. It is known as VetyT (acronym of Velo Tyre Testing), and it complies with the standard ISO 9001-2015. It has been specifically instrumented for the activity, acquiring the external tire temperatures to be compared with the respective simulated ones, under various workingconditions.
The importance of bike tire optimization cannot be underestimated as it can affect both the bicycle dynamics and bicycle performance. Due to the lack of multi-physical mathematical models able to analyze and reproduce complex tire/road contact phenomena, useful to predict the wide range of working conditions, this research aims to the development of a bicycle tire thermal model, playing a fundamental role in the definition of the optimal adherence conditions, for both safety and performance maximization, and as an indicator of the proper tire design for various applications, each requiring specific heat generation and management.
The use of bicycles as a cheap and healthy way to travel the “last mile” is spreading widely in the cities. This new way of dealing with short trips, known as “micro-mobility”, is also fostered by the new awareness of the global impact of ICE vehicles and rising fuel costs. In recent years, also cargo bikes are knowing a large use, both for families with children and for delivery purposes. They are featured by a long frame that can carry loads usually placed in between the rider and the front wheel. This requires fairly skilled riders to deal with driving dynamics, different from the common bicycle we are used to (Miller, M., 2023). They can easily reach a speed of 25 km/h (according to the regulations in most EU countries) being usually pedal-assisted. Tyre characteristics may strongly affect bicycle dynamics (Bulsink, V., 2015). This applies even more for cargo bikes as they are featured by remarkable load variation (load/unload configuration), relatively high speed and torque applied to the tyres, both during acceleration and braking phases. In this context, it is important to have a good understanding of tyre characteristics. With the aim of designing safer and more performant bicycles, numerical models are required. Furthermore, existing mechanical models of bicycles mostly ignore tyre dynamics and need to be updated with realistic tyre models (Dell’Orto, G., 2022). Measurements were performed with VeTyT, an indoor test-rig specific for bicycle tyres, designed at the Department of Mechanical engineering of Politecnico di Milano (Figure 1) (Dell’Orto, G., 2022). It is the only test-rig for bicycle tyres complying to the standard ISO 9001-2015. We can measure lateral force and self-aligning torque, as tyre parameters vary. The tyre 20”x2,15 was mounted on a standard aluminum rim and tested on flat track. The specific dimensions of the cargo bicycle wheel forced us to update the test-rig, designing a new steel fork to ensure sufficient stiffness and new steel plates to carry the wheel on flat track (Figure 2). Inflation pressure was set to 400 kPa, as recommended by the manufacturer. Tests were performed applying a vertical load of 411 N and 526 N, according to the technical limits of the test-rig. The camber was set to 0 degree, as first stage of the study. The lateral force and self-aligning torque as function of the slip angle are shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4, respectively. It is clear the difference in outcomes adjusting the vertical load. As the vertical load increases, both the lateral force and the self-aligning torque increase in magnitude as well. As expected, the tyre can generate higher forces with higher vertical load. It is worth noticing that the peak value of lateral force will be reached for very large slip angles (> |6| degrees, as maximum value tested in this study). Tyres for cargo bicycles are designed to carry large loads, therefore we expect to reach saturation conditions for higher vertical forces or, conversely, large slip angles. The cornering stiffnesses are reported in Table 1: for vertical load 526 N it is 23% higher than that found at 411 N.