Dunlop Building

Image: My own

The first bike tyres were made of iron bands on wooden wheels. After that they were made from solid rubber.  Imagine how bumpy that would be!

Thankfully John Boyd Dunlop, a Scottish Inventor living in Ireland, came up with the idea of the inflatable or pneumatic tyre and we’ve been cycling around on a cushion of air ever since!

Image: My own

Rubber was first discovered in Peru, in the Amazon Rainforest by the mesoamerican tribes.

In 1725 Charles de la Condamine brought the idea to europe.

Mr Goodyear discovered that if you heated it you could remove the sulphur which made it waterproof and winterproof without losing it’s stretchiness. 

Robert William Thomson invented a pneumatic tyre for coaches but the idea didn’t catch on.

Dunlop Tyre and Wheel, 1888, National Museum of Scotland

John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) a vet, used rubber and sailcloth to make a tyre and tested it on his son’s bike.  It worked!

Harvey du Cros, president of the Irish Cyclists’ Association, loved the tyre and paid Dunlop for the idea. 

In 1889 he built the world’s first inflatable tyre factory next to St. Enda’s School on Stephen Street.

In 2019 88 million tyres, of all types were sold.

Next time you are out for a cycle think about Mr Dunlop!

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