Goodyear Tires Goes All In and Launches Complete Mountain Bike Line

The bike industry is a very insular landscape—we’re all used to bike brands making bike parts for bike fans without much attention from big, outside companies. A big-name brand rarely jumps into our world—especially an American brand, with global recognition and a 120-year history making tires. Enter Goodyear. -By Alan Davis

As challenging as it can be for bike companies to survive these days, the industry has to be headed in new and interesting directions to grab Goodyear’s attention, right? Goodyear has had their hands in bicycles before however. It’s been 39 years since Goodyear made their last bicycle tire, and the company’s first product in 1898 was, in fact, a bicycle tire. So what grabbed their attention this time?

Why has Goodyear decided to re-enter the bicycle arena after so long?

The answer lies not in the bike industry so much as in the big picture of the entire mobility sector—which even includes automobiles and trains. As cities are getting more and more crowded, even brands like Ford are rethinking their approach to solving these overcrowding issues. Goodyear is looking at the bicycle as becoming an increasingly important part of the overall transportation equation.

Does that means they have their eyes on commuters and e-bikes? You bet they do! They claim their commuter segment of tires is the fastest growing segment. But most important to readers of Vital MTB, Goodyear appears to be going all-in on serious mountain biking; starting with four tread patterns, two wheel sizes, three casing designs and a plethora of proprietary compound formulas to tantalize the denizens of dirt with even more rubber options. Tires, after all, can single-handedly affect the way a bike rides more than any other component, short of the rider.

Obviously it’s impossible to tell the future, but companies like Goodyear, who had a 2016 revenue in excess of 15.1 billion U..S dollars, don’t jump into a new arena of product manufacturing half-assed—that just isn’t how they operate. To illustrate, all of Goodyear’s bike tires, which currently include over 100 product SKUs across four segments—Road, Transit, All-Terrain, and Mountain—will immediately be available in bike shops, or through their distributor Hawley Lambert, as you are reading this, on April 9, 2018.

Carson, California?

The tires are real too; we’ve had some on our bikes for over a month now. Product releases have a certain rhythm to them that we’re accustomed to and admittedly enjoy. Usually it’s timed to coincide with a big race at some scenic location—which led us all, quite perplexed, to an address in Carson, California in late February. Carson is industrial and blue collar, with nary a mountain to be seen, nor even a patch of dirt, so the trip was unusual, until we realized we were headed to the Goodyear Blimp home base. That’s right, the same Goodyear Blimp (actually one of three of them), you’ve probably seen one at events like the Superbowl. This launch center was where we received all the juicy details about Goodyear’s new bicycle product line and a couple samples to ride.

The Goodyear Mountain Bike Tire Line

As exciting as it is that Goodyear is now making tires for a wide swath of the bike industry, we really are all here for one thing—the mountain segment. The current Goodyear price list contains 36 tires under the mountain category including three tread names—the Peak, the Escape and the Newton.

Goodyear Peak Cross Country Tire

The Peak is a fast-rolling XC tread with 2.25-inch width in 27.5- or 29-inch diameters. It features siping on all tread knobs and a subtle bumpy texture that Goodyear tells us reduces some mud accumulation. You can choose between Premium or Ultimate casing fabrics—Ultimate has a higher thread count. The Peak features Goodyear’s Dynamic:A/T compound and like all of the tires in the mountain line they are tubeless compatible. An interesting fact is Goodyear patented the tubeless automobile tire no less than 115 years ago!

Goodyear Escape Trail / Enduro Tire

The Escape is a do-everything adventure tire that can range from XC to all-mountain. It is available in 27.5- or 29-inch diameters with 2.35- or 2.6-inch width and the Dynamic:R/T rubber compound. You will also see the same tread siping, bumpy texture, Premium or Ultimate casing fabrics and tubeless compatibility as in the Peak. The Escape gives you the added option of Standard or Enduro casing construction. Goodyear’s off-road tires have either a standard 1-ply construction, a tougher 1.5-ply Enduro casing, or DH casings with an abuse-ready 2-ply construction.

Goodyear Newton and Newton ST Downhill Tires

Moving onto DH offerings, the Newton, as you can imagine by its gravity-invoking name, is going to bring all the boys to the yard. There currently are no fewer than 24 variants of the Newton on the Goodyear price list. Essentially, there are two Newton treads—the more paddle-like Newton and the more open and blocky Newton-ST. Both tires are available in either 27.5- or 29-inch diameters with Premium or Ultimate casing fabrics and either Enduro (1.5 ply) or DH (2 ply) construction. Enduro casing Newtons receive Dynamic:R/T compound while the DH casing models get a softer Dynamic:RS/T rubber. Additionally, you’ll get all of these options in either 2.4- or 2.6-inch widths. Again, you’ll see siping, texture and tubeless compatibility as you do on the above treads.

Goodyear's Dynamic MTB Rubber Compounds

It’s impossible to have a discussion about tires without talking about rubber compounds. Goodyear was tight lipped about the exact construction, or durometer, of their Dynamic A/T, R/T and RS/T compounds, but the analogy they used was “they’re like carbon frames.” To elaborate, as carbon frames change in purpose and even size, the construction methods dictate different carbon layup be used in the tubes. Goodyear claims there could be many different compounds used in a single tire and the layup would be different even if you chose the same tire in a different width. In another example, Goodyear claims their tires are the easiest tubeless tires to seat with a floor pump out there—the reason being, they use a special rubber compound just in the bead area, specifically for that purpose. We have tested this, mounting four Goodyear tires on two pair of wheels and they seated flawlessly with a floor pump, we even left the valve stem in to make things extra challenging.

How Much Do Goodyear MTB Tires Cost?

Goodyear was not shy about their tires being aimed at the premium market. Prices for the Mountain bike tire segment range from $60 to $90 each. Since they are relative newcomers to the bike world, they are not yet focusing on the OEM spec market and seem to be targeting only premium aftermarket. The tires should also be available direct from goodyearbike.com, however they promised they will not undercut retailers and are selling tires only for the MSRP.

Vital Rides the New Goodyear Escape (29 x 2.35) and Newton (27.5 x 2.6) Tires

We’ve been on a pair of 29 x 2.35-inch Escape Ultimate tires and a pair of Newton EN Ultimate 27.5 x 2.6-inch. Since we’ve been splitting our time between both tread patterns we aren’t quite ready for a full review, but our initial impressions of the Goodyear tires are solid.

The 2.35-inch Escape is our favorite because it’s so versatile. It’s light enough for fast climbs, at 760 grams each, and burly enough for rough mountain descents—but it’s not quite up to the task of fast, rough rocks; get the EN casing version for that. The siped square blocks are very subtly directional and notably grippy, while the voluminous casing made easy work of a couple big two-wheeled adventures in mixed terrain. We’re looking forward to putting some serious time on these tires!

Our 27.5 x 2.6-inch Newton EN weighed in at 1,160 grams and despite its added mass, held its own on a couple big days of climbing over 3,000 feet each—rolling very nicely. Of course this tire was more in its element on the way back down. Its huge volume plowed over everything and the shallow center tread pattern felt perfect on our dry trails. It didn’t quite get the bite we were looking for, however, and we believe that’s more attributable to the 2.6-inch width that anything else. A softer compound may also help. We think we’d prefer the 2.4-inch width for hard-packed SoCal trails, while the 2.6 is probably more at home in softer loam and wetter conditions. That’s just our initial impression after a couple rides; we look forward to more time on both sets of tires.

Goodyear-Sponsored Riders or Teams?

We inquired about a sponsored pro team, and Goodyear stated they will become an official sponsor of a pro team when its product line can support every need that the team could have (more compound options and treads, like a mud tire, for instance). Too often teams sign tire sponsors that cannot fulfill the riders’ needs and then we see those photos of Sharpie’d tire logos. This is a disservice to everyone that Goodyear plans on avoiding. That said, they did mention Geoff Gulevich’s name as a gravity rider who is signed and slated to ride their product in 2018.

Gully gettin' some with the Newton.

An Interview with Geoff Gulevich about riding Goodyear MTB Tires

We tracked Gulevich down for a few words after Crankworx Rotorua and discovered he’d just got a set of Newton 2.4-inch tires with DH casing. He’d only been on the tires for a week, but we were still interested in what he thought of them.

Where did you ride them?

In the muddiest clay you could imagine in New Zealand and the driest Laguna Beach has to offer.

What’s your initial impression of the tires?

At first glance, the tires looked great. This being my first shot at tire development, I was unsure but as soon as I took the pre-production tires to dirt, I was impressed with their traction in the wet and the lack of rolling resistance. The production models that I am running for the past week, have been incredible.

Where do you feel the tread pattern is going to excel?

It feels like it allows me to track with confidence in the wet and yet rolls fast in the dry.

What do you think about the compound?

The first pre-production set I received could have been a bit softer. Now that I have the production models, I could not be happier with the traction and control they provide.

How has Goodyear done considering this is the first time they are bringing MTB tires to market?

They definitely have bucket loads of experience from the automotive industry. With their MTB design, I feel it will cause a stir in the industry and create a new competitive performance line.

Are you providing Goodyear with feedback so they can design more tires in the future?

At this point, I am involved in the DH and Enduro testing and very much intend to give my knowledge and feedback on new designs to come.

Do you have any other comments about the tires?

Honestly, I'm psyched! It's nice to hop on a product that felt good from the early stages. And, it's only going to get better from here!

Goodyear Rolling Forward!

Goodyear’s re-entry into the cycling industry is going to be a big awakening to some companies and a big win for premium-market consumers—the tire aftermarket just got a lot more competitive and there are a bunch of options to choose from. The Goodyear mountain segment has several products that look really promising right out of the gate and they are only going to get more refined with time. Goodyear has the unique history and capacity to balance the performance and reliability needed for each tire model’s intended user—just as every major auto manufacturer has trusted Goodyear to do when outfitting their range of vehicles.

We’re also stoked a rider like Gulevich is sending them feedback and more treads and compounds are inevitably on the way. A company of Goodyear’s scale is going to have little difficulty setting up new molds and releasing new tread patterns, it’s just a matter of getting the right feedback and performing the R&D.

When asked what the Goodyear bicycle line will look like in five years they responded, “all-encompassing,” and then added, “by then, Goodyear will be able to meet the needs of all types of cyclists in every discipline.” Like we suspected, this is just the beginning of something big and we’re exciting to see where it goes.

Head over to GoodyearBike.com and take a gander at all tires ranges on offer. In addition to tires you should also see a full line of butyl tubes (mostly of interests to retailers), and Goodyear is also making their own tubeless sealant to sell with their tubeless tires.

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