Michelin: A well-rounded product

How do you profile yourself as a tire manufacturer? And how exactly do you design a tire? Just the right questions for Michelin man and industrial designer Walid Djabour, who has been working for the French company for ten years. Ah yes: Although it's actually not quite in his brand's DNA - he also likes to maltreat the black gold on the bike from time to time.
Text Tom M. Muir
Photo Michelin

Mr. Djabour, the tires are the car's only contact surface with the road - what are the big challenges for a designer? Do you also have to make compromises with your more technical colleagues? The technical development in the area of tires has been enormous over the past 20 years.
Exactly! The development of tires in the recent past has been huge. In our work, we actually try to give the customer optimum performance and a safe, good driving experience over the entire life cycle of the tire - on the other hand, the tire also has to be durable and also as sustainable as possible. So the key is to design a tire that is as durable as possible and that the customer can use optimally.

"The development of tires in the recent past has been huge."

Walid Djabour

How important is the purely visual design here: If a tire looks fast, is it fast on the track? And does purely performance determine the look here, or vice versa?
In fact, it all depends on the goal of a "project." But we always try to give an impression of the tire with the pattern and the sidewall. It should express what the tire is and what it can do. The car to which the tire is tailored, of course, also plays a role. For example, this is how we approach the sport tires for the road.

With the Road6 for motorcycles, it's a little different: They are designed to provide a lot of confidence, especially on wet roads. In the case of the Power5, our sportiest motorcycle tire, the design is much freer and therefore more aggressive. In the end, therefore, it always depends on what the goal of the project is. First we look at the target vehicle and adapt to it directly. Then we address the other technical requirements and performance in the design.

"First we look at the target vehicle and adapt to it directly. Then we address the other technical requirements and performance in the design."

Walid Djabour

How do you actually feel when someone does a burnout with one of your tires? Do you think that's good or do you then suffer with the tire?
At Michelin, we are fundamentally influenced by the environmental impact of the tire - and therefore, as I said above, we develop the tires to last as long as possible while also providing consistently good performance. Burnouts? Not really in our DNA. It's a bit different with our American brand BF Goodrich: It's more about fun and off-road here. It's a slightly different spirit!

No ride without tires, no road trip without a ride. Your perfect road trip?
For me, the perfect road trip definitely takes place on a motorcycle! And I meet creative people along the way. Like in July now: I'll be on the road with a few people who are just as passionate about motorcycling as I am. Germans, Brits, Spaniards. They're working on engines, helmets and goggles all to do with motorcycles. Then it's like coming to the surface while diving and breathing fresh air - this is where I learn all about the latest trends.

"For me, the perfect road trip definitely takes place on a motorcycle! And I meet creative people along the way. Like in July now: I'll be on the road with a few people who are just as passionate about motorcycling as I am. "

Walid Djabour

And last but not least: What does motorcycling mean to you in general?
I would describe myself as quite crazy about motorcycles. Luckily, I live next to a small race track - that's where I occasionally go on the weekends to have some fun. You could also say: I burn some tires! (laughs) In everyday life, I'm a little more relaxed on the road - and enjoy the scenery behind the wheel. For example, while driving to work.


ramp shop


Latest articles

To Be Continued: Jaguar Continuation Cars

On World Cat Day, we look to England - where Jaguar recently unveiled the C-Type, the next of its Continuation Cars. Driving it is an adventure of the unforgettable kind. One of the reasons for this is how incredibly uncomfortable it is to sit in a Jaguar C-Type or E-Type Lightweight. But not only that. It's also a lot of fun.

Clear as daylight: Cool products for hot days

The summer is currently in top form - and we want to follow suit. With the best gadgets and must-haves for the most beautiful time of the year. Our guide for all those who still don't have the right swimsuit - or are looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses as well as the ideal entertainment.

Art. Déco. Racer. The Bugatti Type 59/50 BIII

There are rare and legendary cars. And then there is the Bugatti Type 59/50 BIII, also known among connoisseurs as the »Cork Car.« And no, it's not just its elegant bodywork that makes it special. Rather, its entire history is incredible - and incredibly exciting. Also for the Molsheim brand itself.

Brad Pitt: A Hollywood Fairy Tale

In his latest film, "Bullet Train," Brad Pitt plays a hit man who gets involved in a decidedly wild train ride with a happy ending. Which brought us to the question: Is Brad Pitt happy? In an interview with the 58-year-old, it becomes clear which cognitive processes the actor went through - and which principle he followed to find this feeling.