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Title:
TIRE TREADS HAVING TREAD ELEMENTS WITH RADIALLY INCLINED AND AXIALLY-BIASED LEADING AND TRAILING SIDES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/075371
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Embodiments of the present invention include a tire tread, a tire including the tire tread, and methods of reducing tread wear on a tire. Particular embodiments of the tread include a plurality of tread elements, where for each of the plurality of tread elements, an average radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of an average radial first-side angle and an average radial second-side angle for all of the plurality of tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero. Additionally, as to the plurality of tread elements, an average axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average axial first-side angle and an average axial second-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero.

Inventors:
HOTTEBART FRANCOIS (US)
COLLETT MARK (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2016/059351
Publication Date:
May 04, 2017
Filing Date:
October 28, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MICHELIN & CIE (FR)
MICHELIN RECH TECH (CH)
HOTTEBART FRANCOIS (FR)
COLLETT MARK (US)
International Classes:
B60C11/03; B60C11/13; B60C19/00
Foreign References:
US3768535A1973-10-30
US5944082A1999-08-31
US5200008A1993-04-06
US5960845A1999-10-05
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HRIVNAK, Bret A. et al. (Suite 300Akron, Ohio, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A tire tread comprising:

a tread length extending in a lengthwise direction normal to a width of the tire tread; a tread thickness extending in a depthwise direction from an outer, ground-engaging side, the depthwise direction extending normal to both the tread width and the tread length, and

the tread width extending laterally in a direction transverse to the tread thickness and to a length of the tread, the width extending laterally between a first lateral side edge and a second lateral side edge of the tread;

a plurality of longitudinal grooves extending in a direction of the tread length;

a plurality of tread elements, each of the one or more tread elements being arranged between a pair of lateral discontinuities extending in a direction of the tread width, where one of the pair of lateral discontinuities is arranged adjacent to a first longitudinally- spaced side of the tread element and where the other of the pair of discontinuities is arranged adjacent to the a second longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element such that the pair of lateral discontinuities and the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides of the tread element are spaced-apart in a direction of the tread length to define a length of the tread element, the first longitudinally-spaced side being a leading side of the tread element and the second longitudinally-spaced side being a trailing side of the tread element, where leading side is configured to enter a tire footprint before the trailing side; where for each of the plurality of tread elements, the first longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial first-side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread and the second longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial second- side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread, where the tread is configured to rotate in a direction of rotation of a tire, the direction of rotation comprising one of opposing directions of the tread length, such that a positive average radial first-side angle orientation and a positive average radial second-side angle orientation is obtained when the respective first longitudinally-spaced side and the second longitudinally-spaced side are each inclined in the direction of tread rotation as each respective first longitudinally- spaced side and second longitudinally-spaced side extend in a direction of the tread thickness towards the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread;

where an average radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle for all of the plurality of tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero;

where for each of the plurality of tread elements, the first longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average axial first-side angle relative to the widthwise direction of the tread and the second longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average axial second-side angle relative to the widthwise direction of the tread;

where an average axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average axial first-side angle and the average axial second-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero.

2. The tread of claim 1, where the average radial first-side angle is different than the average radial second-side angle.

3. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 2, where, for each of the plurality of tread elements, both the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle are substantially greater than zero.

4. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 3, where the average radial inclination angle equals 5 to 30 degrees.

5. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 4, where the average radial inclination angle equals 10 to 20 degrees.

6. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 5, where the average axial first-side angle is different than the average axial second-side angle.

7. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 6, where, for each of the plurality of tread elements, both the average axial first-side angle and the average axial second-side angle are substantially non-zero.

8. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 7, where the average axial inclination angle equals 25 to 45 degrees, in absolute value.

9. The tread of claim 1 , where the plurality tread elements comprise a plurality of intermediate tread elements arranged between a plurality of shoulder tread elements, a plurality of shoulder tread elements, the plurality of shoulder tread elements comprising one or more first shoulder tread elements arranged along the first lateral side of the tread and one or more second shoulder tread elements arranged along the second lateral side of the tread, the plurality of intermediate tread elements being arranged between the first and second shoulder tread elements.

10. The tread of claim 9, where the plurality of intermediate tread elements are arranged into a plurality of intermediate ribs each being formed of one or more of the plurality of intermediate tread elements, where, for each respective intermediate rib, an average rib radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average first radial side- angle and the second radial side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective intermediate rib along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero and an average rib axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average first axial side-angle and the second axial side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective intermediate rib along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially non-zero.

11. The tread of claim 10, where the average rib radial inclination angle is substantially equal to 5 to 30 degrees.

12. The tread of claim 10, where the average rib inclination angle is substantially equal to 10 to 20 degrees.

13. The tread of any one of claims 9 to 12, where the plurality of shoulder elements are each arranged between a pair of lateral discontinuities extending in a direction of the tread width, where one of the pair of lateral discontinuities is arranged adj acent to a first longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element and where the other of the pair of discontinuities is arranged adjacent to the a second longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element such that the pair of lateral discontinuities and the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides of the tread element are spaced-apart in a direction of the tread length to define a length of the tread element, the first longitudinally-spaced side being a leading side of the tread element and the second longitudinally-spaced side being a trailing side of the tread element, where leading side is configured to enter a tire footprint before the trailing side; where for each of the plurality of shoulder elements, the first longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial first-side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread and the second longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial second- side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread, where a positive average radial first-side angle orientation and a positive average radial second-side angle orientation is obtained when the respective first longitudinally-spaced side and the second longitudinally-spaced side are each increasingly inclined in the direction of tread rotation as each respective first longitudinally-spaced side and second longitudinally-spaced side extend in a direction of the tread thickness towards the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread;

where an average radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle for all of the plurality of shoulder elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero.

14. The tread of claim 11 , where the average radial inclination angle for all of the plurality of shoulder elements equals 5 to 30 degrees.

15. The tread of any one of claims 1 to 14, where the tread forms a portion of a tire.

16. A method of reducing tread wear on a tire, the method comprising the steps of:

providing a tread as provided in any one of claims 1 to 15.

17. The method of claim 16, where, for a tire having a particular footprint, the average radial inclination angle is selected that is lower than an average radial inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire having a less round footprint.

18. The method of claim 16 or 17, where, for a tire intended to operate under a particular driving torque, the average radial inclination angle is selected that is lower than an average radial inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire operating under a greater driving torque.

19. The method of any one of claims 16 to 18, where substantially greater than zero equals 5 to 30 degrees.

20. The method of claims 17 or 19, where the lower average radial inclination angle is selected to reduce or avoid an increase in heel and toe wear along the tire tread.

Description:
TIRE TREADS HAVING TREAD ELEMENTS WITH RADIALLY INCLINED AND AXI ALLY-BIASED LEADING AND TRAILING SIDES

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to International Application No. PCT/US2015/058470, filed October 30, 2015 with the U.S. Patent Office (acting as the U.S. Receiving Office), and which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates generally to tire treads, and tires having the same.

Description of the Related Art

[0003] Tire treads are known to include a partem of voids and/or discontinuities such arranged along a ground-engaging side of the tread to provide sufficient traction and handling during particular conditions. For example, grooves provide voids into which water, mud, or other environmental materials may be diverted to better allow the tread surface to engage a ground surface. By providing the partem of voids/discontinuities, tread elements are formed along the tread, where the outer portion of said elements are arranged along the outer side of the tread to provide traction as the outer side engages the ground surface (that is, a surface upon with the tire operates, which is also referred to herein as a tire operating surface).

[0004] It is well known that the tire tread wears during tire operation due to the generation of slip between the outer side of the tread and the tire operating surface. This wear occurs due to rolling mechanics and due to the amount of vertical pressure applied to the tire during tire operation. As to rolling mechanics, the shear strain of the tread rubber is maximum at a trailing edge of a tire contact patch (also referred to as a tire footprint), which is the area of contact between the tire and a ground surface. The trailing edge is the edge of the contact patch where the tire rotates out of contact with the ground surface. This shear strain is needed to generate the longitudinal and/or transversal forces required for vehicle motion. As to the vertical pressure applied to the tread rubber, the pressure is applied normal to the tread rubber in contact with the ground surface within the contact patch. This normal pressure decreases to zero at the trailing edge of the contact patch. The high shear strain present generates high tangential stresses as the strain and stresses are associated by the shear rigidity of the tread. Slip occurs when the ratio between high tangential shear stresses and decreasing normal pressure reaches a threshold limit, which is typically 1 for dry ground conditions (Coulomb's law).

[0005] Therefore, to reduce wear, there is a need to generate longitudinal force for vehicle motion while generating lower shear strain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] Embodiments of the present invention include a tire tread, a tire including the tire tread, and methods of reducing tread wear on a tire. Particular embodiments of the tire tread include: a tread length extending in a lengthwise direction normal to a width of the tire tread; a tread thickness extending in a depthwise direction from an outer, ground-engaging side, the depthwise direction extending normal to both the tread width and the tread length; and, the tread width extending laterally in a direction transverse to the tread thickness and to a length of the tread, the width extending laterally between a first lateral side edge and a second lateral side edge of the tread. Such treads also include a plurality of longitudinal grooves extending in a direction of the tread length and a plurality of tread elements. Each of the one or more tread elements being arranged between a pair of lateral discontinuities extending in a direction of the tread width, where one of the pair of lateral discontinuities is arranged adjacent to a first longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element and where the other of the pair of discontinuities is arranged adjacent to the a second longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element such that the pair of lateral discontinuities and the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides of the tread element are spaced-apart in a direction of the tread length to define a length of the tread element. The first longitudinally-spaced side being a leading side of the tread element and the second longitudinally-spaced side being a trailing side of the tread element, where leading side is configured to enter a tire footprint before the trailing side. Where for each of the plurality of tread elements, the first longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial first-side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread and the second longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average radial second-side angle relative to the depthwise direction of the tread, where the tread is configured to rotate in a direction of rotation of a tire. The direction of rotation comprising one of opposing directions of the tread length, such that a positive average radial first-side angle orientation and a positive average radial second-side angle orientation is obtained when the respective first longitudinally-spaced side and the second longitudinally-spaced side are each increasingly inclined in the direction of tread rotation as each respective first longitudinally- spaced side and second longitudinally-spaced side extend in a direction of the tread thickness towards the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread. Where an average radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle for all of the plurality of tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero. Where for each of the plurality of tread elements, the first longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average axial first-side angle relative to the widthwise direction of the tread and the second longitudinally-spaced side is oriented at an average axial second-side angle relative to the widthwise direction of the tread. Where an average axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average axial first-side angle and the average axial second-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero.

[0007] The foregoing and other embodiments, objects, features, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more detailed descriptions of particular embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numbers represent like parts of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIG. 1 is a perspective, partial cutaway view of a tire, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0009] FIG. 2 is a partial side view of the tire tread shown in FIG. 1.

[0010] FIG. 3 is a partial side view of a prior art tire tread.

[0011] FIG. 4 is a partial side view of an alternative embodiment of the tire tread shown in FIG. 2.

[0012] FIG. 5 is a top view of the tire tread shown in FIG. 1.

[0013] FIG. 6 is a top view of alternative embodiment of the tire tread shown in FIG. 5 showing submerged discontinuities.

[0014] FIG. 7 is a side view of a tire arranged along a ground surface, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0015] FIG. 8 is a chart showing the variation in longitudinal forces generated in a tire footprint for (A) a prior art tire under torque, (B) a tire including the inventive features shown in FIG. 3 under torque, and (C) the tire of (B) in a free rolling condition. [0016] FIG. 9 is a top view of a tire footprint in an exemplary arrangement.

[0017] FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the tire shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PARTICULAR EMBODIMENTS

[0018] Various embodiments of the invention described herein provide a tire tread exhibiting improved wear characteristics, such as when the tire tread is exposed to a driving torque or acceleration, for example. Particular embodiments of the invention comprise a tire including any such tire tread.

[0019] As noted above, slip between the tire tread and the tire operating surface generates tread wear. A tire footprint is described as a portion of the tire tread that contacts the tire operating surface (such as the ground, for example) during tire operation. A footprint is also referred to as a "contact area" or "contact patch." As such, when a tire rolls, as exemplarily shown in FIG. 7, the outer, ground-engaging side 22 of a tire tread rolls into contact with the tire operating surface G at a leading edge LE of a tire footprint FP, where a portion of the tread rolls into and enters the footprint, while the ground-engaging side rolls out of contact with the tire operating surface at a trailing edge TE of the tire footprint, where a portion of the tread rolls out of and exits the footprint. With reference to FIG. 9, an exemplary footprint is shown. In particular instances, as the tread exits the footprint, slip between the tread and the tire operating surface occurs, which leads to the generation of tread wear. At the trailing edge of the footprint (that is, at the furthest-most edge of the footprint from which the tread exits), high shear strains are present, which leads to high tangential stresses - represented by elevated longitudinal forces. This is generally represented in plot (A) in FIG. 8, showing the presence of longitudinal forces along a length of an exemplary tire footprint. Additionally, at the trailing edge, vertical pressure acting on the tread decreases to zero, which leads to the generation of slip, since as the tread exits the footprint, slip occurs when the ratio between high tangential stresses and decreasing normal pressure reaches a traction limit, which is typically around 1 for dry conditions. This results in undesired tread wear, which may comprise excessive rates of wear and/or irregular wear. For example, irregular wear includes heel and toe wear, where the leading edge of the tread element wears to a rounded profile and the trailing edge of the tread element wears to an elongated, pointed profile, whereby the leading edge resembles a heel and the trailing edge a toe.

[0020] By virtue of employing the inventive tread features described herein, which includes selectively inclining leading and/or trailing sides (also referred to as fore-aft sides) of certain tread elements, as discussed below, a reduction in slip is achieved, which therefore reduces tread wear, when a tire is operating under a driving torque, which may comprise an accelerating torque, for example. This is reduction in slip is accomplished by reducing at the trailing edge the shear strain needed to achieve a desired longitudinal force with a tread element during tire operation. As a result, with reference to plot (B) in FIG. 8, showing a reduction of longitudinal force at the trailing edge of an exemplary tire footprint. These improvements were realized with on-vehicle testing, where a test driver compared different tires, which included:

• a reference tire characterized as having leading and trailing sides with average radial inclination angles of 0 degrees and average axial inclination angles of 0 degrees;

• a first test tire characterized as having leading and trailing sides with average radial inclination angles of 15 degrees and average axial inclination angles of 0 degrees;

• a second test tire characterized as having leading and trailing sides with average radial inclination angles of 0 degrees and average axial inclination angles of 36 degrees in absolute value along intermediate ribs, where the intermediate ribs are generally represented by those shown in the tire tread of FIG. 5, with the average axial inclination angles for each of the five (5) ribs arranged across the tread width being 0 degrees, 36 degrees, -36 degrees, 36 degrees, and 0 degrees; and,

• a third test tire characterized as having leading and trailing sides with average radial inclination angles of 15 degrees and average axial inclination angles of 36 degrees in absolute value along intermediate ribs as provided in the second test tire, where the tire more specifically represents the tire of FIG. 5.

[0021] The tests were conducted on a front- wheel compact car on a wear circuit approximating typical driving conditions characterized as having moderate accelerations. As a result of the testing, in comparing the first test tire to the reference tire, the first test tires achieved a 25% improvement in wear performance when used on the front, driven wheel positions but achieved a 10% reduction in wear performance when used on the rear, undriven wheel positions. In comparing the second test tire to the third tire, the third test tires achieved a 25% improvement in wear performance when used on the front, driven wheel positions and a 10% improvement in wear performance when used on the rear, undriven wheel positions. Accordingly, unexpected results were obtained by achieving improved wear performance in the undriven tire when the longitudinal sides of the intermediate tread elements were characterized as having an average axial inclination angle that is substantially non-zero.

[0022] It is noted that the leading and trailing sides of a tread element extend at least partially in a direction of the tread thickness and in a direction of the tread width, where the leading and trailing sides are spaced-apart to form a length of the tread element. The leading side is arranged before the trailing side in a direction of the tire rotation, such that the leading side enters a tire footprint before the trailing side. The leading side is referred to herein as a first longitudinally-spaced side, and the trailing side is referred to herein as a second longitudinally-spaced side. A tread element, as used herein, refers to a tread block or lug or a tread rib, where the length of the tread element is defined by a pair of opposing discontinuities spaced-apart in a direction of the tread length, where one of the discontinuities is arranged along the first longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element and the other of the pair of discontinuities is arranged along the second longitudinally-spaced side of the tread element.

[0023] Each discontinuity of the pair of discontinuities may comprise any desired discontinuity, such as a sipe or a groove, for example. In particular embodiments, when the tread element forms a rib, the tread element (and therefore the rib) extends substantially the full length of the tread, whereby the tread element length (and therefore the rib length) extends in a direction of the tread length (a longitudinal direction of the tread), such that when the tread is arranged around a tire, the rib is arranged in a circumferential direction of the tire. In other embodiments, a plurality of tread elements may be arranged to form a rib. For any rib, the rib length may extend along a linear path (prior to installation on a tire, such as a retread), a constant radius curvilinear path (where the path extends in one direction around a tire), or an undulating non-linear path, which is a laterally undulating path (that is, where the path alternates back and forth in a direction of the tread width as the path extends in a direction of the tread length). It is appreciated that a tread element may have a width that is equal to or less than the width of the tread. When the tread element width is equal to a width of the tread, the width of the tread element is bounded or defined by the opposing lateral sides of the tread width. When the tread element width is less than the tread width, the width of each tread element is defined or bounded by a pair of discontinuities or a discontinuity and a lateral side of the tread. [0024] As mentioned above, a discontinuity may comprise a sipe or a groove. A sipe comprises a slit or laceration or a narrow groove generally having a molded void width or thickness of 0.5 to 1.2 mm or less or otherwise configured, such that opposing sides of the sipe defining the sipe width or thickness contact or close during tire operation, such as when the sipe is arranged within a tire footprint. The molded widths of the sipes increase upon tire inflation, which results in upwards of approximately 0.2 mm in additional width, where 0.5 to 1.2 mm molded widths result in approximately 0.7 to 1.5 mm inflated widths. A groove has a width or thickness greater than that of a sipe, and is configured to remain open during tire operation, such as when the groove is arranged within a tire footprint to receive and evacuate water, snow, mud, or other environmental materials through which the tire is traveling.

[0025] It is appreciated that any discontinuity extends into the tread thickness by any desired depth, but generally at least 2 mm in particular embodiments. The discontinuity also has a length extending at least partially in a direction of the tread width, and partially or fully across the width of any tread element. It is appreciated that the length of the discontinuity may extend entirely or partially in the direction of the tread width (that is, in a direction normal to the tread length). When extending partially in the direction of the tread width, the length of the discontinuity extends in both the direction of the tread width and the direction of the tread length, such that the discontinuity length extends along a path having a vector extending in a direction of the tread width and a vector extending in a direction of the tread length. It is also appreciated that the length of the discontinuity may extend along any desired path, whether a linear or non-linear path. A non-linear path includes curvilinear and undulating paths. An undulating path extends back and forth, in an alternating manner, whether in linear or non-linear paths.

[0026] It is appreciated that any tread discussed herein may be arranged along a tire, or may be formed separately from a tire as a tire component for later installation on a tire carcass, in accordance with any technique or process known to one of ordinary skill in the art. For example, the treads discussed and referenced herein may be molded with a new, original tire, or may be formed as a retread for later installation upon a used tire carcass during retreading operations. Therefore, when referencing the tire tread, a longitudinal direction of the tire tread is synonymous with a circumferential direction of the tire when the tread is installed on a tire. Likewise, a direction of the tread width is synonymous with an axial direction of the tire or a direction of the tire width when the tread is installed on a tire. Finally, a direction of the tread thickness is synonymous with a radial direction of the tire when the tread is installed on a tire. It is understood that the inventive tread may be employed by any known tire, which may comprise a pneumatic or non-pneumatic tire, for example.

[0027] It is appreciated that any of the tread features discussed herein may be formed into a tire tread by any desired method, which may comprise any manual or automated process. For example, the treads may be molded, where any or all discontinuities therein may be molded with the tread or later cut into the tread using any manual or automated process. It is also appreciated that any one or both of the pair of opposing discontinuities may be originally formed along, and in fluid communication with, the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread, or may be submerged below the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread, to later form a tread element after a thickness of the tread has been worn or otherwise removed during the life of the tire.

[0028] In prior art tires, not incorporating the inventive tread features described herein, when applying a driving torque to drive or accelerate a vehicle, with reference to representative plot (A) in FIG. 8, a positive, driving longitudinal force Fx is generated at the trailing edge TE of a footprint FP through shear strain. By employing the improved treads described herein, with reference to a representative plot (B) in FIG. 8, when applying a driving torque, such as to accelerate, the longitudinal force Fx at the trailing edge TE of the footprint FP is reduced or eliminated. It is noted that the longitudinal force is reduced by a fixed value based upon a radial inclination angle selected for the leading and trailing sides of the one or more tread elements, which may, for the tire, result in the reduction or elimination of the longitudinal force at the trailing edge of the tire footprint. In doing so, it is appreciated that the longitudinal force may even be reduced below a zero value, which would then result in a negative longitudinal force, which induces a braking force on the tire. This would occur when a longitudinal force being applied to a tire, or a portion of a tire tread spaced apart from the maximum length of a sufficiently rounded footprint (see discussion below), is less than the reduction in longitudinal force generated by the radial inclination angle. This is represented in plot (C) of FIG. 8, where the longitudinal force Fx at the trailing edge TE of an exemplary tire footprint is reduced to a value below zero, which therefore operates as a braking force. Therefore, when a tire or a portion of a tire tread incorporating the inventive tread features described herein is operated at longitudinal force levels below the level created by the radial inclination angle, a negative longitudinal force (i.e., braking force) arises at the trailing edge of the footprint, which results in tread wear, of which may occur as elevated wear rates or as irregular wear, such as in the form of heel and toe wear. [0029] It is appreciated that the outer, ground-engaging side of a tire tread may form a footprint that is more or less rounded. A footprint is the contact area between the tire tread and a tire operating surface, such as a road, ground, or any other surface upon which the tire engages during vehicle operation. The shape or lateral profile of a footprint may be more or less rounded as the footprint extends widthwise from a longitudinal center of the footprint to each of the lateral sides of the footprint, which also extends in a lateral direction of the tire tread. A tire footprint is said to have a length, extending in a direction transverse (that is, perpendicularly) to the lateral direction of the footprint. Commonly, the length of the footprint decreases to its shortest lengths nearest the lateral sides of the footprint. The greater the change in length from a maximum length to a minimum length, for a footprint of a given width, the rounder the footprint. The shape or lateral profile of the footprint is dependent upon many variables, including without limitation, the stiffness of a tire's construction, tire inflation pressure, and the roundness of a lateral profile of the outer, ground-engaging side of the tire tread. With regard to the lateral profile of the outer, ground-engaging side, the lateral profile may be more or less rounded as the tread extends widthwise from a center of the tread to each of the lateral sides of the tread. In other words, in lieu of the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread being cylindrical in shape, the lateral sides of the tread experience a drop in outer diameter (or radius) relative a widthwise centerline of the tread.

[0030] It has been observed, that for rounder footprints, the longitudinal force generated by the tread decreases in areas of the footprint where the footprint length is reduced, that is, reduced from a maximum length. It is appreciated that any such reduction in longitudinal force may result in a negative longitudinal force, which is a braking force. Because the reduction in longitudinal force is fixed for a particular positive radial inclination of the leading and trailing sides of a tread element, selection of the positive radial inclination angle of any leading and trailing side of a tread element should take into consideration the roundness of the footprint, since for rounder footprints, the selection of a particular positive radial inclination angle for a leading and trailing side of the tread element may result in significant braking forces being generated by portions of the tread spaced laterally from a maximum footprint length, which would increase tire wear or generate irregular wear, such as in the form of heel and toe wear, and be counterproductive to the intended result of reducing tread wear. Upon further consideration, it is appreciated that the positive radial inclination angles for each of the leading and trailing sides of a tread element may be limited to tires having less round footprints. It is also noted that because the reduction in longitudinal force is fixed for a particular positive radial inclination of the leading and trailing sides of a tread element, a substantially non-zero axial inclination of the leading and trailing sides of a tread element may be employed to provide additional improvements in wear performance.

[0031] Accordingly, particular embodiments of the invention comprise methods of reducing tread wear on a tire. One step includes providing a tread, which may comprise any tire tread described or contemplated herein, having one or more tread elements characterized as having an average radial inclination angle substantially greater than zero and an average axial inclination angle substantially non-zero. In certain variations, for a tire having a particular footprint, an average radial and/or axial inclination angle for any tread element is selected that is lower than an average inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire having a less round footprint. In other variations, for a tire having a particular footprint, the average radial and/or axial inclination angle is selected which is higher than a corresponding average inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire having a rounder footprint. In other embodiments of such methods, for a tire intended to operate under a particular driving torque, the average radial and/or axial inclination angle is selected that is lower than a corresponding average inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire operating under a greater driving torque. In other embodiments, for a tire intended to operate under a particular driving torque, the average radial and/or axial inclination angle is selected that is higher than a corresponding average inclination angle otherwise selected for a tire operating under a lower driving torque. In any such methods, a lower average inclination angle is selected, or more generally an average inclination angle is selected, for a tire tread having a less round footprint, such as those described below having limited differences in lengths (or associated with tires having limited shoulder drops) to reduce or avoid an increase in heel and toe wear along the tire tread. In other words, by employing the average inclination angles as described herein (that is, where leading and trailing sides have particular average radial and/or axial inclination angles) on tires of limited roundness (in the footprint), not only are wear rates reduced, but also heel and toe wear is reduced or an increase avoided but-for said angles being employed on tires having rounder footprints.

[0032] Particular embodiments of the tires and methods discussed above will now be described in further detail below in association with the figures filed herewith exemplifying the performance of the methods in association with particular embodiments of the tires.

[0033] With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a tire 10 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is shown. The tire 10 comprises a pneumatic tire having a pair of sidewalls 12 each extending radially outward from a rotational axis A of the tire to a central portion 14 of the tire 10. The central portion 14 of the tire is annular in shape, and includes a tread 20 having a thickness T20 extending in a radial direction of the tire (relative a rotational axis of the tire) from an outer, ground-engaging side 22 of the tread to a bottom side 24 for attachment and bonding to the tire. The tread also has a width W20 extending in a lateral direction ("laterally") between the pair of opposing, lateral sides 21 comprising a first lateral side and a second lateral side of the tread each arranged adjacent to one of the sidewalls 12. The tread also has a length L 2 o extending circumferentially around the tire. It can be said that the width extends laterally in a direction transverse to the tread thickness T20 and to a length L 2 o of the tread, which can be said to extend longitudinally in a circumferential direction of the tire. In summary, the tread has a length, a width, and a tread thickness, the thickness extending inward from an outer, ground-engaging side in a direction normal to both the width and length of the tread, which is also referred to as a depthwise direction of the tread. The tread also includes a pair of shoulders 21s forming a transition between the outer, ground- engaging side 22 and each lateral side 21 of the tread 20. While the tread is shown to form a portion of a tire, in other embodiments, the tread may be separate from the tire, such as when the tread is formed prior to being applied to a tire during retreading operations.

[0034] With regard to the ground-engaging side 22 of the tread 20, the tread shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 to include a plurality of discontinuities 26. In the embodiment shown, discontinuities 26 comprise voids 26A V , 26B V forming grooves and sipes 26Bs. Moreover, discontinuities 26A V comprise longitudinal grooves having a length extending in a direction of the tread length, which is in a circumferential direction C of the tire, while discontinuities 26B V , 26Bs comprise lateral grooves and lateral sipes, respectively, each having a length extending in a direction of the tread width W 2 o, which is in an axial direction A of the tire. Each discontinuity 26 also has a depth D 2 6 extending into the tread thickness T20 from the outer, ground-engaging side 22, which is also shown to be in a radial direction R of the tire. It is appreciated that, in particular embodiments, such as is shown in different exemplary embodiments in FIGS. 4 and 6, the outer, ground engaging side 22 from which any discontinuity extends may be obtained after a thickness of the tread has been worn to reach or expose a submerged discontinuity 26B V . A submerged discontinuity may comprise any discontinuity contemplated herein, including a groove or a sipe, for example.

[0035] The discontinuities together with longitudinally-spaced sides define a plurality of tread elements comprising tread blocks or lugs. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, each of the one or more tread elements 28 are arranged between a pair of discontinuities 26B V extending in a direction of the tread width W20. In the embodiment shown, the pair of discontinuities 26B comprise a pair of lateral grooves 26B V or a lateral groove 26B V and a lateral sipe 26Bs, but may comprise any combination of any discontinuity contemplated herein. In any event, one of the pair of discontinuities 26B, which is also referred to as a first discontinuity, is arranged adjacent to a first longitudinally-spaced side 32A of the tread element, while the other of the pair of discontinuities 26B, which may be referred to as a second discontinuity, is arranged adjacent to the a second longitudinally-spaced side 32B of the tread element such that the pair of discontinuities and the first and second longitudinally- spaced sides of the tread element are spaced-apart in a direction of the tread length L 2 o to define a length L 2 8 of the tread element. The first longitudinally-spaced side 32A of the tread element is a leading side of the tread element, which enters a footprint before a trailing side of the tread element, which is the second longitudinally-spaced side 32B.

[0036] In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the one or more tread elements 28 comprise a plurality of shoulder tread elements 28s and a plurality of intermediate tread elements 28i. The plurality of shoulder tread elements 28s comprise one or more first shoulder tread elements arranged along the first lateral side 21 of the tread and one or more second shoulder tread elements arranged along the second lateral side 21 of the tread. The plurality of intermediate tread elements 28i are arranged between the first and second shoulder tread elements 28s, where a plurality of discontinuities 26A (comprising longitudinal grooves in the embodiment shown) separate the plurality of first and second shoulder tread elements and the intermediate tread elements.

[0037] In a particular embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the one or more tread elements 28 comprise a plurality of tread elements arranged in a direction of the tread length L 2 o in a spaced-apart arrangement to form one or more ribs 30. When the tread is arranged on a tire 10, the rib extends in a circumferential direction C of the tire. In particular embodiments, a rib 30 can be described as an array of tread elements 28 arranged in a direction of the tread length. It is appreciated that a rib may comprise any known rib. For example, a rib may extend partially or fully along the length of the tread, and may extend partially or fully in the direction of the tread length, such that, in particular embodiments a rib extends annularly around the tire. By further example, a rib may be said to have a length extending in a direction of the tread length, where the rib extends along a linear path, or a constant radius curvilinear path when arranged along tire, or an undulating non-linear curve alternating back and forth in alternating directions of the tread width.

[0038] With continued reference to the embodiment in FIGS. 1 and 5, the tread elements 28 are arranged into one of five (5) different ribs 30 comprising shoulder ribs 30s and intermediate ribs 30i, where each rib comprises an array of tread elements 28 arranged to extend circumferentially substantially around the tire in a direction of the tread length. The each of the pair of shoulder ribs 30s are bounded by a lateral side 21 of the tread width W20 and a discontinuity 26A, which comprises a longitudinal groove in the embodiment shown. Intermediate ribs 30j are bounded on both sides by a pair of spaced-apart longitudinal discontinuities 26B, which comprise longitudinal grooves or sipes in the embodiment shown. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, it can said that the one or more first shoulder tread elements 28s form a first shoulder rib 30s and the one or more second shoulder tread elements 28s form a second shoulder rib 30s. While FIG. 1 illustrates a 5-rib tire, it is to be appreciated that the methods described herein can be utilized with tires having more or less ribs than tire 10. Further, it is appreciated that in other embodiments, one or more tread elements are arranged to provide a non-rib tread, where no ribs are formed with the one or more tread elements.

[0039] With reference the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, for each tread element 28, both the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides 32A, 32B extend in a direction of the tread thickness T20, where, for each of the one or more tread elements 28, the first longitudinal side 32A is oriented at an average radial first-side angle ΘΑ (inclination angle) relative to the depthwise direction of the tread (that is, in a direction of the tread thickness) and the second longitudinal side 32B is oriented at an average radial second-side angle ΘΒ (inclination angle) relative to the depthwise direction of the tread. These average radial first- side and second-side angles ΘΑ, ΘΒ are each taken as an average of the corresponding angle over the full height H 32 of the corresponding first and second longitudinal-spaced side 32A, 32B along the full length L 32 of the corresponding first and second longitudinal-spaced side for a tread element. It is further noted that where the tread 20 is configured to rotate in a direction of rotation R comprising one of opposing directions of the tread length, a positive average radial first-side angle ΘΑ orientation and a positive radial second-side angle ΘΒ orientation, or a positive angle alone (regardless as to being an average angle), is obtained when the respective first longitudinally-spaced side 32A and the second longitudinally- spaced side 32B are each increasingly inclined in the direction of tread rotation as each respective first longitudinally-spaced side and second longitudinally-spaced side extend in a direction of the tread thickness towards the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread. It is contemplated that, in providing a positive average radial angle, a portion of the first or second side may include a negative or positive radial angle so long as the average radial angle for each side is positive. It is appreciated that, for any configuration described herein, in particular embodiments, the average radial first-side angle may be different than the average radial second-side angle or, in other embodiments, the average radial first-side angle may be substantially equal to the average radial second-side angle.

[0040] In particular embodiments, with reference to FIG. 2, to quantify an overall positive radial inclination of the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides 32A, 32B, an average radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average first radial side-angle ΘΑ and the second side-angle ΘΒ for all of the one or more tread elements 28 along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially greater than zero. Stated differently, the average radial inclination angle it is not the average of only the average radial first-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements, it is not the average radial second-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements, and it is not the average of both average radial first- side and second-side angles for each of the one or more tread elements. Instead, it is the combined average of the average radial first-side and second-side angles for the total first and second longitudinally-spaced sides for all of the one or more tread elements. It is appreciated that any one of the average radial first-side angle ΘΑ and the average radial second-side angle ΘΒ may be negative so long as the average radial inclination angle is positive and substantially greater than zero. Therefore, in particular embodiments, it is appreciated that both the average radial first-side angle ΘΑ and the average radial second-side angle ΘΒ are substantially greater than zero (0), for the substantial length of each first and second side, respectively. In particular embodiments, the average radial inclination angle is an average for all of the tread elements arranged long a tire tread.

[0041] With reference the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, for each tread element 28, both the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides 32A, 32B extend predominantly in a direction of the tread width W20 but also in a direction of the tread length L 2 o, where, for each of the one or more tread elements 28, the first longitudinal side 32A is oriented at an average axial first- side angle CCA (inclination angle) relative to the widthwise direction of the tread (that is, in the direction of the tread width) and the second longitudinal side 32B is oriented at an average radial second-side angle <XB (inclination angle) relative to the widthwise direction of the tread. These average axial first-side and second-side angles CCA, a B are each taken as an average of the corresponding angle over the full length L 32 of the corresponding first and second longitudinal-spaced side 32A, 32B along the full height H 32 of the corresponding first and second longitudinal-spaced side for a tread element. Line 32 avg represents the average linear path along with any longitudinal side 32A, 32B extends along the length L 32 of each such side, since each such side may extend along any non-linear path in a direction of the side length and/or height H 32 . It is noted that in embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the average axial first-side and second-side angles OCA, a B in the center rib 30, 30i are negative angles, while the average axial first-side and second-side angles measured in the adjacent intermediate ribs 30, 30i are positive angles. It is contemplated that, in providing a positive average axial angle, a portion of the first or second side may include a negative or positive axial angle so long as the average axial angle for each side is positive, and vice versa. It is appreciated that, for any configuration described herein, in particular embodiments, the average axial first-side angle may be different than the average axial second-side angle or, in other embodiments, the average axial first-side angle may be substantially equal to the average axial second-side angle.

[0042] With further reference to FIG. 5, to quantify an overall non-zero radial inclination of the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides 32A, 32B, an average axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average first radial side-angle CXA and the second side- angle OCB for all of the one or more tread elements 28 along the first and second longitudinally-spaced sides is substantially non-zero. Stated differently, the average radial inclination angle is not the average of only the average axial first-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements, and it is not the average radial second-side angle for all of the one or more tread elements or the average of both average radial first-side and second-side angles for each of the one or more tread elements. Instead, it is the combined average of the average radial first-side and second-side angles for the total first and second longitudinally-spaced sides for all of the one or more tread elements. It is appreciated that any one of the average axial first-side angle <XA and the average axial second-side angle < B may be positive or negative so long as the average axial inclination angle is non-zero. Therefore, in particular embodiments, it is appreciated that both the average axial first-side angle OCA and the average axial second-side angle <x B are substantially non-zero, for the substantial length of each first and second side, respectively. In particular embodiments, the average axial inclination angle is an average for all of the tread elements arranged along a tire tread.

[0043] In other embodiments, the one or more tread elements comprise intermediate tread elements 28i, such that the average inclination angle is an average of all of the one or more intermediate tread elements. In particular variations of such embodiments, the average radial inclination angle and the average axial inclination angle are each an average of all intermediate tread elements of tread. In other variations, where the plurality of intermediate tread elements 28i are arranged into a plurality of intermediate ribs 30i, one or more intermediate ribs of the plurality of ribs may have a negative average radial inclination angle, so long as the average radial inclination angle for the plurality of intermediate tread elements is substantially greater than zero. Likewise, the one or more intermediate ribs of the plurality of ribs may have a positive or negative average axial inclination angle, so long as the average axial inclination angle for the plurality of intermediate tread elements is substantially nonzero.

[0044] In yet further variations, for each respective intermediate rib, an average rib radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average radial first side-angle and the radial second side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective intermediate rib along the first and second lateral sides is substantially greater than zero. Likewise, an average rib axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average axial first side-angle and the axial second side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective intermediate rib along the first and second lateral sides is substantially non-zero. In still another variation, where a plurality of tread elements are arranged into a plurality of ribs, which may comprise intermediate ribs and/or a pair of shoulder ribs, for each respective rib, an average rib radial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average radial first side-angle and the radial second side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective rib along the first and second lateral sides is substantially greater than zero and an average rib axial inclination angle comprising a combined average of the average axial first side-angle and the axial second side-angle for all of the one or more tread elements forming the respective rib along the first and second lateral sides is substantially non-zero. It is also contemplated that a rib may have an average radial inclination angle that is negative so long as the average of the average radial inclination angle for all ribs is substantially greater than zero and that a rib may have an average axial inclination angle that is positive or negative so long as the average of the average axial inclination angle for all ribs is substantially non-zero. Of course, in another variation, the average radial inclination for each of the plurality of ribs is substantially greater than zero. [0045] In particular embodiments, for any of the average radial first-side angle, the average radial second-side angle, and the average radial inclination angle, as described previously in different embodiments, substantially greater than zero means substantially equal to 5 degrees or more, 5 to 30 degrees, 10 to 30 degrees, 10 to 20 degrees, or 15 degrees. Other ranges of angles are also discussed herein, in other embodiments, that are also substantially greater than zero. In such embodiments or in other embodiments, for any of the average axial first-side angle, the average axial second-side angle, and the average axial inclination angle, as described previously in different embodiments, substantially non-zero means substantially greater or substantially less than zero, and in particular embodiments, substantially non-zero is equal to 20 to 45 degrees, in absolute value, which means equal to 20 to 45 degrees or -20 to -45 degrees.

[0046] By employing tread elements where the average angle of the radial first-side angle and/or radial second-side angle is substantially greater than zero and where the average angle of the axial first-side angle and/or axial second-side angle is substantially non-zero, or where each are within the ranges otherwise discussed herein, a reduction in longitudinal driving forces is obtained, which in turn reduces slip and wear rate. And if the tire is less round, in particular embodiments, heel and toe wear is reduced or an increase avoided. Because the frequency and/or intensity in drive or acceleration may increase for any target driving style or situation, any average radial first-side angle and/or radial second-side angle and any average axial first-side angle and/or axial second-side angle may be increased or decreased as necessary to better reduce the slip for the targeted frequency or intensity of driving or acceleration. For example, when targeting driving styles where the frequency of acceleration is relatively moderate as compared to other driving styles, such as where the most frequently occurring acceleration occurred at 0.05 g, which is a ratio equaling Fx (the longitudinal force) divided by Fz (the force acting normal to the outer, ground-engaging side), that is, Fx/Fz), either or both of the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle, or the average angle as described previously in different embodiments, is substantially equal to 5 to 18 degrees and/or either or both of the average axial first-side angle and the average axial second-side angle, or the average angle as described previously in different embodiments, is substantially equal to 20 to 45 degrees, in absolute value. For driving styles being characterized as having a greater, or more elevated, frequency or intensity of acceleration, such as where the most frequently occurring acceleration occurred at 0.2 g, either or both of the average radial first-side angle and the average radial second-side angle, or the average angle as described previously in different embodiments, is substantially equal to 18 to 30 degrees and/or either or both of the average axial first-side angle and the average axial second-side angle, or the average angle as described previously in different embodiments, is substantially equal to 20 to 45 degrees, in absolute value. As suggested previously, it is appreciated that not all of the tread elements arranged on a tread comprise tread elements having the particular leading and/or trailing side inclinations as described above.

[0047] As noted above, the generation of longitudinal forces by a tire tread is reduced with increasing roundness of a tire footprint. With reference to FIG. 9, a tire footprint FP is shown, the footprint having a variable length Lpp, which decreases from a maximum L FP , max to a minimum Lpp, m in in a direction of the footprint width WFP (that is, in a widthwise direction) of the footprint, where the net decrease in length between maximum and minimum is identified as A FP . In particular embodiments, tire treads being characterized as having the average inclination angles described herein, for any one or more tread elements, are tires having footprints characterized as having a net decrease or change in length between maximum and minimum A FP , which, as expressed as a ratio change, is equal to or less than 1.20 or 120%, or, in yet other embodiments, 1.25 or 125% or less. Greater ratio changes may be acceptable in other embodiments. This ratio change is the ratio of the maximum length LFP, max to the minimum footprint length L F p, min (where the ratio change = L F p, max LFP, m i n ) A lateral profile for each of the leading edge LE and trailing edge TE of the footprint also has a drop in length corresponding to the decrease in footprint length A FP as each extends in a direction of the footprint width W F p, which, in the embodiment shown, is equal to approximately one half of the change in footprint length A FP . It is appreciated that a decrease in footprint length may vary as desired for different tires with different footprint shapes, as the footprint shown is provided for exemplary purposes only, as a tire may have a footprint of any desired shape and size. For a given width W F p, the greater the change in length or drop, the rounder the profile.

[0048] As noted, the roundness of a tire footprint may change due to a variety of factors. One primary factor is the lateral profile of the outer, ground-engaging side of the tread. With reference to FIG. 10, for example, it can be said that a molded or inflated lateral profile of the outer, ground-engaging side 22 is defined by a radius r extending from the outer, ground- engaging side to the rotational axis A of the tire, whereby for a lateral profile P, the radius r decreases from a maximum radius r ma x to a minimum radius r m i n as the profile extends laterally (that is, in a direction of the tread width W 20 ) from a widthwise tread centerline CL in each lateral direction of the tread. It is understood that the widthwise centerline CL extends along a plane extending in both a direction of the tread thickness T 20 and a direction of the tread length L 2 o centered between first and second lateral sides of the tread, and which is normal to the rotational axis A of the tire when the tread forms a portion of the tire. Most often, the radius r is a maximum at the tread widthwise centerline CL, and is a minimum at each shoulder 21s or at each lateral side 21 of the tread, although different configurations of decreasing radius may be employed. The difference between the maximum r max and the minimum r m j„ is commonly referred to as shoulder drop A P . For a given tread width W 20 , the greater the shoulder drop, the rounder the profile, assuming all other factors remain constant. In lieu of the tread width W 20 , the drop in lateral profile P may also be associated with a nominal section width Ws of the tire, which is the nominal distance between opposing sidewalls 12. For example, in particular embodiments, the average angles described herein for average radial first-side angles and radial second-side angles and/or average axial first- side angles and axial second-side angles are applicable to tire treads having a roundness factor substantially equal to or greater than 0.90, or equal to or greater than 0.92 or equal to or greater than 0.94 in other embodiments, where the roundness factor is equal to 1 minus the ratio of the shoulder drop A P to a nominal section width Ws of a tire (that is, the roundness factor is equal to 1 - A P /Ws), and where the shoulder drop is measured as the difference between the radius r taken at the tread centerline CL (or at a location of maximum radius i max) and a location along the lateral tread profile P taken at 83% of a nominal section width Ws of the tire. In particular embodiments, the shoulder drop A P is equal to or less than 6 mm, such as for a tire having a nominal section width of a 205 mm. In other embodiments, the shoulder drop is between 80 and 95% of the nominal section width Ws, as understood by one of ordinary skill according to the Tire and Rim Association ("TRA") depending upon the series or aspect ratio of a particular tire. For these reasons, when tire footprints and lateral tread profiles are rounded, tread elements arranged closer to the shoulder generate less longitudinal forces than those arranged closer to the tread widthwise centerline. In fact, the longitudinal force generated by those tread elements arranged closer to the shoulder may generate negative longitudinal forces, which are braking longitudinal forces. Therefore, when using tread elements having first and second longitudinally-spaced sides characterized as having average radial first-side angles and average radial second side angles substantially greater than zero and/or average axial first-side angles and average axial second-side angles that are substantially non-zero, in the different variations described herein, the reduction of longitudinal forces may further increase the braking longitudinal forces generated by tread elements located closer to the shoulders, which may lead to increased slip and therefore increased heel and toe wear - even while reducing slip and heel and toe wear at or nearer the tread widthwise centerline.

[0049] Therefore, in particular embodiments, with reference to an exemplary tire treads shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, as the footprint FP or lateral profile P of the outer, ground- engaging side of a tire tread becomes more rounded, the average radial and/or axial first/second side angle for a tire tread is reduced, to counteract or reduce the generation of any negative longitudinal forces at locations of reduced footprint length. The average radial first/second-side angle is obtained by averaging of all average radial first-side angles ΘΑ (not shown, see FIG. 2) and all average radial second-side angles ΘΒ (not shown, see FIG. 2), together, for all tread elements on the tire tread. Likewise, the average axial first/second-side angle is obtained by averaging of all average radial first-side angles OCA (not shown, see FIG. 5) and all average axial second-side angles <XB (not shown, see FIG. 5), together, for all tread elements on the tire tread. In particular instances, in lieu of taking the average of all tread elements on the tread, the average is only taken for all intermediate tread elements. In yet further variations, in lieu of taking the average of all tread elements, the average is taken for each rib, which may comprise only intermediate ribs or both intermediate and shoulder ribs By taking the average of each rib, it is appreciated that the inclination angles may vary along the rib, so long as a target average inclination angle is achieved for the rib.

[0050] The terms "comprising," "including," and "having," as used in the claims and specification herein, shall be considered as indicating an open group that may include other elements not specified. The terms "a," "an," and the singular forms of words shall be taken to include the plural form of the same words, such that the terms mean that one or more of something is provided. The terms "at least one" and "one or more" are used interchangeably. The term "single" shall be used to indicate that one and only one of something is intended. Similarly, other specific integer values, such as "two," are used when a specific number of things is intended. The terms "preferably," "preferred," "prefer," "optionally," "may," and similar terms are used to indicate that an item, condition or step being referred to is an optional (i.e., not required) feature of the invention. Ranges that are described as being "between a and b" are inclusive of the values for "a" and "b" unless otherwise specified.

[0051] While this invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments thereof, it shall be understood that such description is by way of illustration only and should not be construed as limiting the scope of the claimed invention. Accordingly, the scope and content of the invention are to be defined only by the terms of the following claims. Furthermore, it is understood that the features of any specific embodiment discussed herein may be combined with one or more features of any one or more embodiments otherwise discussed or contemplated herein unless otherwise stated.