Ride on: Zip-On Bike Tires
THE WORD ...
“We have built our own factory and ensured international patents to be able to disrupt the tyre industry and improve the riding experience for all the fantastic year-round bikers out there. What we hope to do is make biking easier and better, reduce the unsustainable rubber consumption of the tyre industry, and challenge what a tyre can (and should) do.”
– reTyre founders
Biking on snow? Zip on extra studs. Going from suburbs to singletrack? Attach more tread.
The reTyre product presents one of the craziest bike tire designs I’ve seen: A tiny zipper along the sidewall allows users to zip on different molds over a smooth road tire base.
The system starts with that basic road tire, called the reTyre ONE. It mounts on standard rims and is available in 26-, 27.5-, 28-, and 29-inch sizes.
Three “skins” are offered to accommodate changing conditions. An urban winter tire sports 156 carbide studs. An all-terrain skin works for gravel with a light tread pattern. And the Trail X skin is made for mountain riding.
Swapping the tires, the brand advertises, is as easy as “zipping up your jacket.” Along the sidewalls, a self-locking zipper secures a tire in under 60 seconds.
Obviously, this design raises a few flags. First off, without the skins, it looks like you’d be riding on a tire that has half a zipper hanging out. Aside from looking weird, you might also wonder, “Won’t that zipper get all gunked up?”
The brand addresses this, saying the “centrifugal forces create a self-cleaning effect.” That’s great if it works.
I also wonder about the seam where the skin comes together. The brand addresses this as well, noting it designed a tongue that the tread overlaps — presumably to prevent sharp objects from poking through the tiny gap.
Finally, there’s the issue of zippers in general. They break. What happens if the zipper sticks and you can’t get your studs off?
The reTyre is innovative and also raises a lot of questions. But if you have interest or faith, the brand is selling sets now starting at $79 apiece. Zip up, and get ready to roll.
Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at http://www.gearjunkie.com.
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