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reTyre Zip-On Tread System: Worthy of Your Bike?

November 5, 2018

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reTyre Zip-On Tread System: Worthy of Your Bike?

We take an in-depth look at the reTyre modular bike tire system, including how it works, pricing, estimated delivery, online feedback, and the level of value you might expect to achieve.

 

Updated November 21, 2018

In 2015, reTyre CEO Paul Magne Amundsen and CTO Sigmund Andenes set out on a mission: to create a zip-on tire tread system that could help cyclists quickly and easily adapt their traction to changing weather and road conditions.

After three years testing more than 4,500 Alpha models in Norway and Sweden, the system made its debut in a September 2018 Kickstarter campaign, which successfully raised more than $24K. We should expect consumers to begin receiving orders in December 2018 or January 2019.

To meet this crowdfunding demand, increase production speed, and boost capacity, reTyre recently received a €1M grant they’ll use to build their factory (production and assembly) and scaling facility.

Using information provided by the company, along with third parties, we’ve put together a brief—but thorough—picture of who might benefit most from reTyre’s unique technologies.

Taking a Closer Look at How the reTyre Modular System Works

The reTyre system consists of two main parts:

reTyre One

First, there’s a lightweight, urban-oriented road tire called One, which the company indicates is lightweight, fast-rolling, puncture resistant, and delivers excellent grip, despite its slick tread pattern.

reTyre one base tire with skin beginning to zip on top
Here, we can see the reTyre One base tire, to which different skins attach via a proprietary zipper mechanism. Credit: Technium AS

The One tire fits your rim like any standard version, and there are folding and wire beads models available, depending on your preferences.

Related: How Bike Tires Work

The most significant difference is that reTyre outfitted One with a patented zipper mechanism on each sidewall, which is attached with high-strength, glue-infused thread and uses “centrifugal forces create a self-cleaning effect.” Once installed, this sits just over the top of each of your rim’s lips.

Related: Your Visual Guide to the Bike Tire Manufacturing Process

reTyre Skins

All of this works as the base for reTyre’s Skins. The company explains these are interchangeable, fiber-reinforced rubber strips that feature a variety of tread patterns optimized for different surface and weather conditions. They have matching zippers of their own on each of their sides.

All riders have to do is place the zippers together, move the slide around the tire to tighten the skin, and put the self-locking puller in place. In less than 60 seconds, they’re ready to roll without having to remove their wheel or use extra tools. “As easy as zipping on your jacket,” they advertise.

animated gif showing reTyre tread zipping onto One base tire
In this animation from reTyre, we can see how a Skin attaches to the One slick tire, which acts as a foundation for the whole system. Together, they advertise everyone from commuters to downhill mountain bikers can change their tread in less than a minute. Credit: Technium AS

Despite this unique attachment method, reTyre tells us everything fits tightly to ensure the same operation, feel, and performance as a traditional tire.

The system is currently available in 26”, 27.5”, 28”, and 29” versions, with the One tire and Skins made from 90% natural rubber. Once you have your One tire in place, you can use all current and future Skins available for that size.

reTyre Skin Models, Availability, & Pricing

During the Kickstarter campaign, five different pledge packages were available:

  • Modular Tire – 2 x reTyre One Modular Tires: $79 ($111 MSRP)
  • Early Bird – 1 x reTyre One and 1 x Winter Skin: $79 ($142.50 MSRP)
  • Off-road Bundle – 2 x reTyre Ones and 2 x Trail X Off-road Skins, or 2 All-Terrain Gravel Skins: $119 ($261 MSRP)
  • Early Bird Winter Bundle – 2 x reTyre Ones and 2 x Urban Winter Studded Skins: $139 ($261 MSRP).
  • Full Stack Bundle – 2 x reTyre Ones, 2 x Urban Winter Studded Skins, 2 x Off-road Skins, 2 x Gravel Skins: $299 ($633 MSRP).

Exact shipping rates depend on destination and total volume.

Outside of this, we communicated with Alexander Gjendem Gjørven, reTyre’s COO, via email, who let us know they’re planning to set retail pricing at:

Product Specifications Retail Price
reTyre One Non-folding €31.90 ($36.18)
reTyre One Folding €46.90 ($53.20)
reTyre Urban Winter €67.90 ($77.02)
reTyre All-Terrain €51.90 ($58.87)
reTyre Trail-X €41.90 ($47.53)
One + Urban Winter Bundle Non-folding €83.90 ($95.16)
One + All-Terrain Bundle Non-folding €68.90 ($78.15)
One + Trail-X Bundle Non-folding €56.90 ($64.54)

He also advised that all tires will come with a full refund policy as well as a two-year warranty, although this only applies to broken or damaged tires. In either instance, customers will have to send the product to the company for inspection and approval.

From a specs standpoint, Alexander further explained that each One tire weighs 550 g and each Skin about 650 g, for a total of about 1,200 per wheel. Expected lifespan is about the same as other tires; 3-5 years or 5,000 miles. The One base tire deliver relatively low rolling resistance, although this increases moderately once a Skin is zipped into place.

Non-folding tires feature 30 threads per inch, while folding versions come in at 60 TPI. The One base tire doesn’t feature any puncture protection, although Alexander emphasized that the system offers a great deal of puncture resistance once the Skin is in place due to its second layer of rubber.

The company is looking into adding greater puncture resistance with future tire models (made at the company’s assembly factory in China), along with tubeless models in the medium-term future (not currently planned for 2018 or 2019).

Urban Winter

To deliver exceptional grip in icy, snowy conditions, reTyre’s Urban Winter model boasts 156 lightweight carbide and aluminum studs permanently inserted into the specially designed natural rubber knobs.

reTyre Urban Winter skin zipping onto One base tire
reTyre’s Urban Winter Skin features carbide and aluminum studs to maximize traction in cold, snowy, and icy conditions. Credit: Technium AS

All-Terrain Multipurpose Skin

This model’s specially developed tread pattern provides low rolling resistance and exceptional grip on gravel, medium-rough terrain, wet asphalt, and soft, uneven surfaces.

Together, reTyre advertises it as the ultimate multipurpose skin for any condition, whether you ride a hybrid, electric, or city bike. ​

As the name suggests, reTyre’s Multipurpose Skin is designed to tackle a wide variety of conditions commonly encountered by hybrid, electric, or city bike riders. Credit: Technium AS

Trail X

The large contact patch provided by Trail X’s wide, course tread pattern is said to offer optimal stability, traction, cornering, and grip on challenging, rough, adventurous terrain. According to reTyre, this makes it perfect for off-road enthusiasts, and even ‘extreme’ trail and downhill biking.​

Whether you’re into cruising mild singletrack or shredding downhill, reTyre advertises that their Trail X Skin delivers the traction and stability you need. Credit: Technium AS

reTyre indicates that more skins are coming soon, including Smart skins™ with embedded electronics, Next skins™ constructed from exotic materials, and Custom skins™ that allow you to add your own graphics.

What Are Riders Reporting in Their reTyre Reviews?

Since reTyre recently completed their Kickstarter campaign, it might not come as much of a surprise that there’s currently little online feedback for the zip-on system. However, a couple of outlets have already tested it firsthand.

Back in September, Ben Coxworth at New Atlas tried out reTyre’s One tire and All-Terrain Skin, which measured 700 x 40c and weighed in at 1,300 grams (2.8 lbs) per tire/skin combo.

Pro tip: Compare this to the popular Terrene Elwood gravel tire ($65), whose Tough version comes in at 392 grams (0.86 lbs). Or, roughly 300% less weight than reTyre’s setup. Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to carry an extra skin if you want the ability to change tread mid-ride, further increasing overall carry weight.

Ben found that the tire was initially a bit of a struggle to fit the rim, but that the skin easily zippered on afterward.

Compared to a regular tire, Ben reported an “initial squirminess” that took some getting used to, since the “skins slightly slid sideways against the tires when cornering.” On asphalt, he could also feel the skins’ gaps each time his wheels made a revolution, although it wasn’t noticeable on dirt and gravel trails.

Finally, while a low-pressure tubeless version is on the way, Ben emphasizes that the reTyre system currently requires a 45 PSI/3 bar minimum, which might make them less-than-ideal for aggressive mountain biking scenarios.

Related: How to Buy a Bike Pump

We briefly referenced it earlier, but BikeRumor.com also reports that reTyre is working on a Skin embedded with electronics and LEDs, as well as “inductive charging and wireless connectivity to a smartphone.”

“They also have new materials coming to integrate textiles, recycled coconut fiber into the Skins, and even a completely recyclable Skin project,” they add.

And despite their meaningfully higher weight than many traditional options, BikeRumor indicates that reTyre has already signed a deal with bike manufacturer GT, as well as “Norwegian brands Hardrocx, Buddy, [and] Gekko and XEED.” They’re also “in talks with several big bike brands to spec their system on commuter/city/hybrid bikes in the very near future.”

What Does the Future Hold for reTyre & You?

With their proprietary tire and skin combos hitting the market as early as December 2018/January 2019, we’re eager to see how reTyre’s system works for different groups of cyclists.

For example, based on the much higher weight and ‘squirminess’ reported by New Atlas’s Ben Coxworth, the current incarnation probably won’t be the first choice for racers or other competitive-minded cyclists.

On the other hand, if you’re a commuter or recreational cyclist who frequently bikes in changing conditions or throughout different seasons, and who might value the ability to change tread patterns quickly, we could see where reTyre might deliver a better riding experience. And that’s something the TreadBikely team can certainly get behind.

Thanks so much to the reTyre team for the detailed information they provided.

Keep rolling: Tannus Tires Review

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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