If you have ever noticed the colour of the sap extracted from rubber trees you will know that natural rubber is white. Even the vulcanized rubber used to manufacture tyres is off-white. So how come tyres are the complete opposite and black? It couldn’t be painted because that would wear off after a while.
Let’s take a quick look at the evolution of the modern tyre and answer this common question.
As the first tyre was made of rubber, the first tyre was indeed, white. If you look at pictures of old cars you will notice this is true. Some vintage car enthusiasts even today have these white tyres specially manufactured to retain the old world charm.
But during the use of unmixed rubber users experienced a number of problems, like:
- This polymer on its own was too malleable and could lose its form in course of time
- The rubber was very vulnerable to deterioration and degradation through the influence of ozone and UV radiation
- The colour showed dirt very easily
All these led to the trial and error of addition of various additives to the polymerization reaction in order to improve the final product durability and strength.
The “Secret Ingredient”
The additive embraced by the tyre manufacturing community is a chemical called ‘carbon black‘. This wonder chemical was not added just to improve the visual appearance; it also has the capability to increase the lifespan, resilience and other capabilities of the tyre.
Since the advent of the use of Carbon Black, there has been no turning back. This agent is added during the manufacturing stage of all tyres for any vehicle, be it cycles, cars or buses. Another reason for Carbon black being chosen is that it is cost effective and easily sourced material.
Advantages if tyre being black
- Durability and life: As carbon black has the ability to conduct and dispelling radiation, it’s added to protect your tyres against ozone and UV damage. Manufacturers found that by adding the chemical, it drastically prolongs the life of the tyre.
- Strength: Through the addition of carbon black, the strength if the tyre is increased up to tenfold.
- Safety: As this chemical improves the resilience and robustness of the tyre, the safety to the user is consequently improved and the probability of tyre burst or punctures decreases.
- Ease of maintenance: Black makes tyres far easier to maintain. This also helps tyre to remain visually acceptable for a longer period of time.
Other colour options:
It is possible to procure tyres in alternative shades and hues. But it will be difficult and it will be expensive. This is because besides using a substitute another coloured pigment to carbon black (like titanium oxide), which is more expensive, it will also be necessary to add another compound to increase functionality.
Apart from this, coloured tyres fade and get worn off much faster in case of regular use. A more cost-effective option for customers requiring a unique look or needing to match the tyres to the vehicle is getting the sidewalls alone in the same shade.
Lastly, most retailers prefer not to stock a tyre that is limited in use to only a few bikes which match the tyre colour. tyres are expensive and bulky to store. So why fill your wall space with 5 colours of one model of tyre, when you can give better service to more customers by stocking one colour of five models in the same space.