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Rubber cushion that fits around a wheel and usually contains compressed air. Solid-rubber tires were used on road vehicles until they were replaced by air-filled pneumatic tires, which, although first patented by Robert Thomson (1822–1873) in 1845, came into common use only when John Dunlop (1840–1921) put them on bicycles in 1888 and the French manufacturer Michelin began to produce them for motor vehicles. The tire consisted of an inner tube containing compressed air that was covered by an outer rubber casing to provide traction. In the 1950s tubeless tires became standard on most automobiles. Improved tire construction produced the radial-ply tire.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tire, visit Britannica.com.