Soccer is known around the world as the, “Beautiful Game.” The moniker is owed to the interesting dichotomy within the game. Arguably among all sports, soccer is the simplest game to play. All that’s required is a place to play, a ball and a goal. What actually constitutes those things can be anything from soccer’s cathedrals like Old Trafford in Manchester, England to a crumbling alley way in a Brazilian favela. A ball could be the latest creation from Adidas to a bunch plastic bags knotted in the shape of a ball, and as for a goal, a pair of cans or trees or a section of fence, as long as it’s agreed to by the those playing, can do. And the rules? For soccer they can be written on one page versus other sports that have rulebooks denser than a dictionary.
On other side of the dichotomy is a game filled with so much nuance, strategy and fine skill that it incites thousands upon thousands of words, commentary, reaction and passion from fans and pundits alike for just a single game.
Along the same lines, a tire viewed simply is but a round piece of black rubber rolling on the road beneath millions of cars and trucks. But, as soccer has its nuances and strategies, so too do tires have an amazing amount of technology stemming from countless hours of testing and development.
It is true that all tires are round, black and mostly made of rubber, but there is so much more to understand about what may be the single, or in this case four, most critical component of your car. You’ve heard the expression, “It’s where the rubber meets the road”? Well, that it is the contact patch – the only four points where your car is in contact with the road and everything, from acceleration, to cornering to braking happens there. Performance, fuel economy, and comfort, and above all, your safety, are all affected by your tires.
So to simplify your tire as a round, black piece of rubber is to reduce Clint Dempsey to a guy who kicks a ball. Both are true, but there is so much more to the story.
To get from good to amazing in the tire world, Continental Tire engineers fine tune every component of a tire to meet specific demands and purposes just as a goal kick may at times require a powerful right foot and at others a gentle tap. For a tire engineer, that means everything from the construction – belts, carcass and tread design – to the chemistry – the blends of rubbers, silica and polymers – are all analyzed, tested and perfected.
Yet, unlike our MLS stars who have but one objective – to win a championship – consider that Continental Tire engineers must produce a tire to function under wide variety of circumstances. From smooth roads to rough roads, from high speed to low speed, from the heat to cold and in dry, wet and snowy conditions. Tires also come in a wide range of sizes, but a smaller tire must perform the same as a larger one. When it comes right down to it, the requirements for a good tire are downright mind-boggling and we’re only skimming the surface of the factors involved.
Continental Tire’s latest high performance offering, the ExtremeContact™ DWS06, was created specifically to perform under the widest set of conditions possible. Within the performance category, tires often compromise on a variety of factors in order to attain high performance within a specific window. So, traditionally, high performance tires work extremely well in dry conditions in exchange for lesser performance in the wet and often no performance in the snow. In this case, the “D,” “W,” and “S” stand for “dry,” “wet,” and “snow,” meaning that this tire performs to a high standard in all three conditions. That’s like having a single article of clothing that keeps you warm in a blizzard and cool in a heat wave.
So, how did Continental Tire achieve that extraordinary balance?
Three years of development that included 25,000 hours of machine testing, 2 million miles of road testing and 3,000 different tires went into the making of the ExtremeContact™ DWS06. One of the key components of the ExtremeContact™ DWS06 is a technology called SportPlus™, a combination of features that produce precise handling, excellent grip in slippery conditions and long tread life. The features include Macro Block outer shoulders and chamfered edges for dry handling; exclusive, and patented, +Silane (a component of the rubber) for wet traction; and uniform contact patch pressure for even and long tread life. In addition to the SportPlus™, the ExtremeContact™ DWS06 also features Traction Grooves, X-Sipes and QuickView Indicators. Traction Grooves and X-Sipes provide biting edges for impressive snow traction. QuickView Indicators are visual features in the tread that assist consumers in conveniently checking for alignment issues and the performance level of the tires.
Soccer by virtue of its contrasts between simplicity and complexity is indeed a beautiful game and a tire, in its own way, is a beautiful piece of design for much the same reason.