Fundamental Research: Of Rubber and Polymers
Around 3,000 compound recipes are stored in the manufacturing database, with more than 500 different ingredients which, depending on their application, prevent buildings from collapsing in earthquakes, ensure aircraft and automotive vehicles maintain optimum ground contact, or which protect tomatoes and peaches from being crushed in transit. Whether it’s doormats, kitchen utensils or rubber seals, the range of applications for the material we simply call “rubber” is nearly infinite, and the knowledge contained in this ever-expanding ingredients list is far from exhausted. Specialized is the first and so far the only partner to work with QEW in the realm of bicycle tyres. "This ensures exclusivity for our tyres," says Wolf with a smile. They have worked together on many recipes over the past five years, trying and testing again and again. "Finding the right compounds for bicycle tyres and their various applications is by no means a trivial issue," says Peter. "You want a lot of grip with relatively little weight on the tyres, but also little rolling resistance and weight in the end product. Without a doubt, the trick here is to search for an optimal compromise." Thus begins the process of stirring up new mixtures, testing and drawing the right conclusions from the data. "We've been conducting some absolutely fundamental research here," says Wolf, looking back on their joint work. They have also worked in cooperation with the Hanover-based German Institute for Rubber Technology, where they have, among other things, carried out "rubber eraser tests", also known as abrasion tests, in order to determine and describe the wear of certain compounds. "All the work was worth it!" claims Wolf. The T5, T7 and T9 compounds address every cyclist’s needs, from cross-country riders demand for speed and good grip even in wet conditions, to downhill riders seeking plenty of grip and shock absorption.