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Goodyear re-enters the bicycle tire market, 120 years later

By Michael Better • Updated
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Goodyear’s first product 120 years ago was a bicycle tire. And now the auto tire behemoth has returned to the world of cycling with a catalog that includes nearly 100 different bicycle tire products.

The range includes everything from slick road tires to burly downhill mountain bike tires. More importantly, its entire range is tubeless, a system Goodyear is calling Tubeless Complete. The tires, which Goodyear spent two years designing, are meant to be used without sealant. (Does it work? More on that below.)

The large launch means Goodyear is investing serious skin into the bicycling market. Conspicuously absent from the lineup: dedicated road race tires. If Goodyear is reading the tea leaves right, it’s betting that gravel and mountain bike interest will continue to grow, while road cycling numbers will continue to stagnate or drop.

Rubber compounds

Goodyear developed three different compounds for its road and commuter tires, focusing on grip, rolling efficiency, and durability. Each is built with a standard 1-ply casing layup. The compounds are called Dynamic: Pace70, Dynamic: H/T, and Dynamic: Silica4. The latter is the top-end performance compound of the road range.

There are also four compounds utilized among the gravel and mountain tires — Dynamic: Pace60, Dynamic: A/t, Dynamic R/T, Dynamic: RS/T. The smooth-surface-friendly gravel tires feature the Pace60, while the downhill tires use the Dynamic: RS/T to tackle gritty terrain. Goodyear focused on creating compounds that combine traction with low rolling resistance.

For gravel and mountain, consumers have the option of two different casings, or TPI (threads per inch) options. Goodyear has labeled them as premium and ultimate; the latter offers a more firmly woven, higher TPI casing. Enduro tires also use a 1.5-ply casing layup compared with the standard 1-ply used for most of the tires in the range. Goodyear’s downhill tires feature a two-ply casing layup.

Road and commuter

The road tire is called Eagle and it is available in four sizes — 700x25mm, 28mm, 30mm, and 32mm. With 700 x 23mm tires all but relegated to dusty attics, Goodyear doesn’t even offer the size. All Eagle tires cost $70.

The Speed and Tour tires make up the commuter range. The Speed is a fast-rolling urban tire while the Tour is more durable with a directional side tread for all-weather traction. Both commuter tires have built-in reflective stripes on the sidewalls and are available in 700x35mm, 40mm, and 50mm sizes. The Tour is also available in a 27.5x 2.0-inch version.

The commuter tires have three different center underlayment constructions for puncture resistance. The construction options are a one millimeter, three millimeter, or five millimeter under tread. Goodyear labels the five-millimeter under tread option as secure; in other words, the more under tread a tire has, the less likely you are to get a puncture.

All boiled down, Goodyear has two different tread options, four different sizes, and three different constructions in its commuter line. This means there are 24 different commuter tires available. The tires range in cost from $40 to $60.

Gravel and mountain

The County gravel tire measures 700x35mm and has a smooth center with knobs on the side. The Connector is larger and burlier, and measures 700x40mm. Knobs cover the entire tire, though the side knobs are burlier for more aggressive cornering. Both tires are available in the premium and ultimate option. The premium option utilizes the Pace60 compound, while the Dynamic: A/T is for the ultimate. The premium option costs $60 and the ultimate option costs $70.

Goodyear only has one pure cross-country mountain bike tire, called the Peak. This race tire is available in a 27.5×2.25-inch or 29×2.25-inch option Both the premium and ultimate use the same Dynamic: A/T compound. Like the gravel tires, the premium costs $60 and the ultimate costs $70.

The Escape is the more robust trail cousin of the Peak. It’s a versatile tire with wide-spaced square knobs throughout for traction. The Escape is only available in 27.5×2.35-inch and 29×2.35-inch sizes with the premium and ultimate option for both. The premium costs $65 and the ultimate costs $75.

Enduro and downhill

The Escape enduro tire features a 1.5-ply casing that Goodyear saves for all of its enduro tires. The tread is the same as that used for the trail version; size options and pricing are the only difference. The two sizes, available in premium and ultimate, are 27.5×2.6-inch and 29×2.6-inch. The premium option is $70 and the ultimate option is $80.

Goodyear developed two tires specifically for enduro and downhill riding — the Newton and Newton ST. As the name suggests, the tires are built for speed, though the ST option is a more high-performance tire. Both tires are available in four sizes — 27.5×2.4, 27.5×2.6, 29×2.4, and 29×2.6. The enduro tire comes in the premium and ultimate construction options and cost $70 and $80, respectively. The downhill version of the Newton and Newton ST is only available with an ultimate construction and costs $90.

First ride: Eagle 700x25mm

While we’re still testing the gravel and mountain bike tires, we’ve gotten a couple hundred miles on the Eagle road tire in both wet and dry conditions. The tires have shown little wear so far, and ultimately, we like the shape and grip.

But they aren’t racing tires. If you’re after something super-supple, the Eagles probably aren’t your rubber. But they make a fantastic training tire due to the durability and wide stance. On our home roads, with typical springtime heaves and cracks, the Eagles held up nicely.

We were also pleasantly surprised by the cornering grip. This became especially apparent in high-speed descents and sharp switchbacks, in which we were compelled to lean over and test the Eagle’s limits more than we normally would. This was consistent in both wet and dry conditions.

Goodyear touted its tubeless system as the best on the market. The company is so confident in its system that representatives said it’s possible to run the tires without sealant, and that sealants should only be used as an extra layer of protection. (Goodyear will be launching its own sealant soon.)

But as is the case with any tire, variations in rim diameter can cause problems with proper tubeless sealing. Such was the case with the Eagle road tires; we got them mounted up quickly and easily using only a floor pump, but in order to completely seal the tires so they didn’t leak, sealant was necessary. We still wouldn’t recommend setting these up tubeless without sealant.

With over a century of R&D on its side, Goodyear clearly has the tools to become a staple in the bicycle tire world. Our initial impressions of the broad line are very good so far, though we’ll need more time to test the dirt products. If you’re after a reliable and grippy training tire, the Eagle is a solid choice. And since Goodyear is hitting the market with over 100 products ready for consumers, there will be no shortage of tire choices for riders of all types and abilities.

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