A brief review of tire critical speeds is given using the beam under tension as a physical model. In its most common form, this model visualizes the critical speed as that speed just sufficient to sustain a continuous sinusoidal bending wave in the tire tread band. A number of studies have been published modifying this concept by the introduction of material damping, centrifugal effects, and other characteristics, some of which aid in explaining the fact that the wave pattern observed experimentally is local and decays rapidly away from the contact patch. This paper presents a different view of the wave pattern needed for a critical speed to exist, namely that a naturally occurring local wave can arise independent of material damping and that as a practical fact, material damping may have little to do with the onset of the phenomenon. A discussion on the effect of tire design variables on critical speed is given based on the expressions derived here.