We can easily change our riding kit, our suspension settings and even our tyre pressure for different conditions but changing our tyre tread takes a bit more work. Hoping to solve that problem come ReTyre, who claim to have created the world's first modular tyre system.
The premise is pretty simple. You have a base tyre, the ReTyre One, a slick road tyre that can be used on its own but it also has zips along the side of it just above the rim. You can then purchase additional Skins with different treads, that cover the ReTyre One using the zip to secure them. There are currently 4 different skins that all have different intended uses - Winter Traveller, Gravel Chaser, Trail Rider and Ice Rider. The Skins can be fitted with the wheel still on the bike and they also roll up for easier storage.
What about those zippers, surely they can't stand up to the abuse of riding? Well, apparently these aren't your standard YKK trouser fly, and ReTyre say: "the zippers are specially developed to handle extreme and harsh environments and have the same life expectancy as the tyre" and that they have been placed specifically so there won't be high forces loading on them. They also say the zips are self-cleaning due to "centrifugal forces".
The Skin most of us mountain bikers will be interested in is probably the Trail Rider tyre that is available in 26x2.0" or 28x2.0" (700c) versions. The Trail Rider adds approximately 6mm (0.23 inches) to the height and 14mm (0.5 inches) to the width of the ReTyre One base tyre when mounted. ReTyre say: "Engineered in collaboration with mountain bikers to guarantee optimal results and ensure the best balance of performance, handling and off-road control, on technical trails, mud, wet and slippery ground. The features of the Trail Rider are also perfectly adapted to e-MTB." Weight for the base tyre comes in at 630 grams for the 26" version with the skin adding a further 470 grams.
The brand list some further benefits to their product including a more sustainable model than swapping out whole tyres and some puncture resistance, presumably from the extra thickness of rubber. They say: "What we hope to do is to make biking easier and better, reduce the unsustainable rubber consumption of the tyre industry, and challenge what a tyre can (and should) do."
The Norwegians behind the idea initially wanted to create a tyre that meant they would not have to fully change their front and rear tyres when an overnight blizzard meant their standard road tyres were not up the job anymore. By creating a studded sleeve, it saved them a chunk of time every morning or meant they didn't have to have two separate pairs of wheels ready to go. Three years of development later, the brand brought the concept to the market through a Kickstarter, where it raised nearly $25k through backers. They also received a $1 million EU grant that was used to build a factory and work towards scaling the business.
Do we see this taking over the current tyre model? No, of course not. However, if you're a bike commuter who fancies a bit of cheeky singletrack on the way home, it could be a way to make your road ride easier while still allowing you to have a bit more grip when you hit the trails.
If the concept interests you, then a wired base tyre costs €29, with a beaded version costing €56. Skins cost between €38 and €56 and are sold separately.More info here