Friday, June 23, 2017

Bugatti Chiron Speed Limited by Tire Technology

By: Sebastien Bell
It’s been a while now since Bugatti debuted the Chiron and still we don’t know what the top speed is. Rumors abound and the speedometer goes all the way to 310 mph, but we may not know the car’s true top speed until tire technology catches up with this speedy machine, according Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace.
Although its current, limited top speed of 261 mph is faster than almost anything else on the road (or the track for that matter), Wallace implied to Popular Mechanics that it reaches that speed without much difficulty.
It seems, therefore, that there’s more in it. But we won’t know if it’s capable of bending the speedometer needle for a long time, because there’s no road legal tire that can handle the forces involved in spinning at 300 mph.
As Popular Mechanics writes, the 2.5-gram valve cap on a Chiron’s wheel weighs about 16 lbs when it’s centrifuging at 261 mph. And as speeds increase, the forces increase exponentially, so every mph is harder than the last and 300 is a lot of miles per hour.
Wallace says he suspects that Michelin will sign off on a top speed of more than 280 mph with current tire technology, so it seems unlikely that, in its current guise, the Chiron will hit 300 mph. Who knows, though, if a future Super Sport Chiron could break the barrier when tire technology finally catches up.
For now, Chiron owners can ruin their tires at lower speeds, thanks to the handling mode, which according to Wallace, lets the car drift. The speeds won’t be all that low, though, since its big tires prevent even the Chiron’s 1,500 hp from breaking traction too quickly. One shudders to think of how much replacing burned out tires would cost.

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