A unique zip-on adaptable tyre tread solution is set to become more prominent in Australia, with Norwegian company reTyre signing up a distributor to explore market opportunities in this country.
reTyre was attracting plenty of attention when it displayed its latest generation of modular zip-on treads at Eurobike 2022 last month.
The modular system comprises a base tyre, typical of an urban commuting tyre, which is compatible with any standard rim. The base tyre is fitted with a zipper on each side to attach the outer layer – usually either a gravel configuration or a studded tyre for riding on snow and ice.
That enables the owner to quickly and easily fit a tread configuration that suits road conditions without the need to remove the wheel, which is particularly beneficial for urban and gravel bikes fitted with racks.
reTyre chief operating officer Alexander Gjendem Gjøerven said the system was developed primarily for winter climates where studded tyres were often necessary for icy roads, but it would also be beneficial in summer climates for switching between sealed and gravel rides.
The company stated working with distributor 1st Line Digital late last year to start identifying and building potential markets in Australia.
reTyre is working with distributors in some countries but is also selling direct to consumer in a number of markets.
Solution for Winter Commuting
The company was started in 2015 by two chemical engineers at the Norwegian Technology University.
“All the students stopped cycling in the winter because of the snow and ice and they wanted a solution,” Alexander said.
The duo secured government grant funding and input from private investors, and released the first version of the reTyre system in 2017.
Version one was purely an outer layer that could be fitted over any existing tyre, with a bead that also fit within the rim.
Version two, complete with the system’s only specifically-designed base tyre with zippers attached, came soon after and was named best bike tyre in 2018 and 2019 for the BikeToday.news readers choice awards.
Alexander said the tyres are largely developed for inexperienced riders and those who want minimal maintenance and aren’t looking for lightweight high performance. With the added weight of having two layers of tyre, the reTyre system is well suited to e-bikes and commuters, where weight saving is less of an issue.
“There’s so many people entering the bike market now. First-time buyers of electric bikes don’t know how to change a tyre and they don’t want to know about it,” he said.
“reTyre encourages people to have the right tyres for the conditions, particularly because you don’t need to remove the wheel to change the outer layer and it can be done is less than 60 seconds.
“In addition, you don’t discard the whole tyre when the tread is worn, just the outer layer, and you actually get more life out of the tread because you only tend to use off-road tyres when you need them.
“They are not for riding on really rocky trails because that can damage the zips. However, people who ride those trails tend to be more mechanically competent.”
He said the zips just need regular movement and occasional cleaning to keep them working effectively. The pull tab includes a spring to hold it flat against the tyre, as well as a locking mechanism once in place so the zip cannot undo by itself.
“It seems to be super low-tech but we have done all the complex work, with hundreds of thousands of dollars for development, to come up with a really simple product,” Alexander explained.
“Within the first year of releasing our product, there was at least five people who came up to us and said they had tried to do something similar five or 10 years ago, to develop a cover that went over the tyre. However, they couldn’t figure it out.
“We were the only ones who could come up with a solution.
“Now it’s clear we definitely need to make one for cargo bikes with 20-inch wheels. Hopefully, at next year’s Eurobike we will have a 20-inch tyre on display as well.”
reTyres now come standard on a few bike brands, including Norwegian manufacturer Buddy, Indian company Elife and Spanish brand Moma.
After focusing on the European market, it is also selling tyres in South Korea, Central America, South Africa and Eastern Europe.