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by James Huang
April 9, 2018
Photography by James Huang
It’s hardly unusual for an automotive tire company to cross over into the bicycle industry. For example, long-time players Continental, Michelin, and Maxxis all have deep roots in the motorized worlds, and all three have very broad ranges across the board. More recently, we’ve also seen Pirelli dip its toe into the waters as well, but only with a smattering of models from which to choose.
Industry behemoth Goodyear is being anything but tentative with its launch into the bicycle market, however, with almost 70 different tires on tap just to start, covering road, MTB, gravel, and urban categories. Time will tell how much of an impact Goodyear will make amongst such heated competition, but the company is clearly in it for the long haul.
Goodyear’s debut into the bicycle tire world is accompanied by an alphabet soup of technical features, all of which are intended to better tailor each of the company’s tire models to their intended use.
For example, there are two casing densities (“Premium” and “Ultimate”), three different ply constructions, three different families of casing protection, and two levels of under-tread rubber reinforcements. However, Goodyear is being coy about some of the specifics. Although nylon and Kevlar are called out for the reinforcement materials, there’s no mention of the casing material itself — although nylon is a good bet — the actual ply densities, or the durometers of the rubber compounds used.
But that said, Goodyear is also taking the position that none of that really matters. From their perspective, even buyers of high-performance automotive tires don’t inquire about those sorts of technical specifications; they only care how everything works on the road.
That may be how it works in that environment, but the cycling market is used to having that information available, so it’ll be interesting to see how well this approach pans out in the wild.
Casing reinforcement types and materials vary by application. Photo: Goodyear.
Goodyear is offering is off-road tires with three different casing constructions, depending on the level of protection and stability required. Photo: Goodyear.
Urban models are especially well-protected against punctures, with options that include thick layers of rubber beneath the tread cap. Photo: Goodyear.
As a newcomer to the market, Goodyear has the luxury of having a fresh perspective on where things stand, where they’ve been, and where it’s heading. And the company is obviously taking a very forward-looking position with its line of tires, without the burden of tradition.
Case in point: nearly all of the models are tubeless, using a novel bead shape that is not only designed for easier installation and inflation, but also headache-free roadside repair when needed, too. Goodyear is taking an ambitious approach to the format, too, as its “Tubeless Complete” casings themselves are supposedly already airtight on their own. No sealant is technically required, although some is still recommended for self-repair capabilities.
Tire sizes are on the wider end of the spectrum across the board, too: road tires start at 25c, while the smallest mountain bike model is 2.3″-wide. Mixed-surface tires start at 35mm and go up front there; there’s clearly no concern for satisfying UCI technical restrictions for cyclocross racing.
Luke Musselman is overseeing the project for Goodyear and Rubber Kinetics, a design and development firm specializing in performance cycling products and urban mobility solutions and one that’s partnered with Goodyear to develop the new line.
“We want to do something that’s different, that stands out,” Musselman said. “We’re in the market as a premium, full soup-to-nuts tire line, [but] we are not going to make tubular tires; that is not where the market is headed.”
Headlining the road bike is the Eagle All-Season, which Musselman says is “formulated to be the ultimate year-round road tire.” Key features include a silica-based tread compound for low rolling resistance and confident wet-weather traction, lightweight bead-to-bead casing protection, and a true tubeless construction.
Four available sizes range from 25-32c, all designed for use with 700c rims with inner widths between 19-21mm. Retail cost is US$70, and claimed weights are 300-387g, depending on size.
Goodyear calls the new Eagle All-Season the “ultimate year-round road tire.” Is it really? Time will tell.
For gravel riders, there’s the new 35mm-wide County, built with a fast-rolling semi-slick center, progressively knobbier shoulder tread, and dual-compound rubber. R:Armor reinforcement uses an additional layer of nylon throughout for additional cut protection on the “Tubeless Complete” casing. Claimed weight is 441g for the Ultimate version, and 526 for the Premium model.
For looser terrain, there’s the 40mm-wide Connector, which uses the same tubeless casing constructions, bead-to-bead reinforcement, and dual-compound rubber, but a more aggressively knobby pattern. Claimed weight for that tire is 463g or 562g, depending on model.
Retail price for both mixed-terrain tires is US$60-70.
Goodyear is launching its new bicycle tire line with two mixed-surface models: the Connector (left) and the County (right). The 35mm-wide County is built with a dual-compound tread and full bead-to-bead armoring for use on both paved and unpaved surfaces. Meanwhile, the Connector is more of a gravel-specific model with a larger 40mm casing and a more aggressive tread design.
Mountain bike riders get a broader range of options at launch.
The Peak is Goodyear’s “pedal up, pedal down” model, built with a rounded cross-section, low-profile and ramped knobs, and “directional siping on every knob for improved grip.” Tubeless compatibility is standard, along with a tougher-wearing single-density Dynamic:A/T rubber compound and reinforced sidewalls to ward off rock abrasions.
Goodyear will offer the Peak in Premium and Ultimate versions, and in both 27.5″ and 29″ diameters, but only in a 2.25″ width throughout. Claimed weights are 645-715g for the 27.5″ size, and 697-772g for the 29ers. Retail price is US$60-70.
The Escape is Goodyear’s “all conditions” mountain bike model, designed with slightly taller and more widely spaced knobs, and a grippier Dynamic:R/T single-density rubber compound. Tubeless construction and reinforced sidewalls are standard as well. Three casing types will be available, including a 1.5-ply Enduro variant for riders that require more durability.
The Escape will be available in 2.35″ and 2.6″ widths, again for both 27.5″ and 29″ rim diameters. Claimed weights range from 695-1,175g, depending on size and casing construction. Retail price is US$65-80.
The Peak (right) and Escape (left) are designed more for cross-country and trail riding, with lower-profile tread patterns better suited to reducing rolling resistance than all-out traction in loose conditions. Still, these look to be an enticing rear and front combination. The Peak will only be offered in a 2.25″ width, but the Escape will be available in 2.35″ and 2.6″ sizes, both in either 27.5″ or 29″ diameters.
For more demanding applications, there’s the Newton and Newton ST.
The Newton ST is Goodyear’s most gravity-oriented tread, built with tall knobs arranged in a very open pattern for better traction on rocks and loose soil. Center knobs are ramped to reduce rolling resistance, while the shoulder blocks are heavily reinforced to prevent them from folding over during hard cornering.
Given the extra abuse these tires are expected to see, Goodyear is offering the Newton ST solely in 1.5-ply Enduro and 2-ply Downhill casing constructions — both tubeless — and softer Dynamic:R/T and Dynamic RS/T rubber compounds. 2.4″ and 2.6″ widths are on tap, both in either 27.5″ or 29″ diameters. Claimed weights are 925-1,252g, depending on size and casing construction. Retail price is US$70-90.
The matching Newton will likely be used more as a rear-only tire, as it’s designed with lower-profile knobs down the center that are oriented primarily for drive traction, but similar shoulder knobs for comparable cornering capabilities, and the same rubber compounds. Goodyear will offer the Newton in the same casing variants and sizes as the standard Newton ST. Claimed weights are 955-1,367g, depending on size and casing construction; retail pricing is the same as the Newton.
Goodyear is diving headfirst into the mountain bike market as well. The Newton (top) targets the downhill and enduro crowd, with tall tread blocks and open spacing, reinforced shoulder knobs for secure cornering behavior, and both ramped and siped knobs to help increase traction and improve rolling resistance. The faster-rolling Newton ST (bottom) uses trimmed-down knobs down the center, but a similar shoulder tread to maintain cornering traction. Both are offered in both 27.5″ and 29″ diameters, but only in 2.4″ and 2.6″ widths, all in tubeless construction with your choice of single-ply or dual-ply casings.
The mountain bike tires get some light texturing on the sidewalls to help ward off rock abrasions and sidewall cuts.
Ample reinforcing on the shoulder knobs should help keep them from folding over under hard cornering loads.
Goodyear is taking the urban segment seriously, too, with two tread designs — the Transit Speed and Transit Tour — and three different casing options for each, including tubeless models with folding beads for riders that struggle to get to work on time, and more heavily reinforced versions for riders that put a greater emphasis on durability (or have the aid of an electric motor to move things along).
700c Transit Speed and Transit Tour models range in width from 35-50c, and there will also be a handful of 650b sizes in a single 50mm width. Given such a broad variety of sizes and constructions, claimed weights span a huge range, from a relatively svelte 565g for the 700x35c Transit Speed Tubeless Complete model, up to a whopping 1,260g for the 700x50c Transit Tour Secure. Prices range from US$40-60.
Goodyear is taking the urban market very seriously with the new Transit line. The Transit Speed is aimed more at fast commuting, with lighter-weight construction and a faster-rolling tread compound. The Transit Tour, on the other hand, focuses more on durability, with additional casing protection and a longer-lasting rubber cap. Both are offered in Tubeless Complete, S3:Shell (with 3mm of additional rubber under the tread), and Secure (with 5mm of rubber under the tread) variants, depending on your desired level of security.
CyclingTips has several models of the new Goodyear tires in hand, and will have more in-depth reviews ready soon. International prices and availability are to be confirmed.