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Specialized Tires - Overview


In an effort to proclaim itself re-committed to the tire market from which Specialized earned it's original distinction in the bike industry, in 1992 the Specialized Tire & Rubber Co. was spun off from it's parent company. The "company-within-a-company" is charged tire and rubber development and marketing. Let's step back and bring you up to speed on the tires marketed by Specialized Tire & Rubber Co. Many years ago the founder of the company Michael Sinyard sought to make improvements in the an area of the bike that hadn't been given any really specific notice. From his car, (which, un-confirmed legend has it, was a Volkswagen bus), he drove from bike store to bike store to gather interest, and advance orders for a tire he was having made. The tires were for road racing bikes and became known as the Touringª tire. They were made in Japan for him by a company referred in the industry as Mitsuboshi. Mitsuboshi did, and still does, very good work. The quality of the tires was obvious and success in the tire market met Mr. Sinyard with full force. The Japanese tires sold under the Specializedª brand are still made by Mitsuboshi in Japan. We believe the tires they sell which are made in Taiwan to be made by the Cheng Shin Tire Co. because of the markings molded into the tire near the chafing strip. A relatively unknown alliance developed in the years 1990 to 1993/4 in which Wilderness Trail Bikes became the company responsible for all new tread designs. At first WTB was responsible for Mountain bike tires only, and the first of the WTB treads was the Ground Control. WTB's participation was enhanced and they have became responsible for the tread design of many of the Specialized road tires. Although WTB is a three partner design team, made up of Charlie Cunningham, Mark Slate and Steve Potts, with Patrick Seidler handling legal matters, the person primarily behind the tire tread design is Mark Slate. Mark was communicative and informative with us on matters that didn't breach their design relationship's confidentiality or proprietary interests. Recently Specialized has released tires with what they describe as having a softer rubber compound for the tread component of the tire. This new compound is Grey in color and they refer to it as "Umma Gumma" Specialized is frank to admit that the Umma Gumma tread tires will wear out at a 15 to 20 percent faster rate over their standard Black tread tires. The softer compound is intended to give added adhesion to the ground, which is true if the ground in contact is harder than the tire. This adhesion characteristic begins to evaporate or fundamentally disappears once ground surface becomes something other than a hard surface. Remember, a softer rubber compound is the result of less carbon being added to the rubber compound. The lack of this carbon makes the rubber less hard but also less stiff and abrasion resistant. The carbon particles provide molecular surface for the rubber molecules to cross-link to. Lastly, 3 of the 4 mountain bike tires with this Umma Gumma compound are made with Kevlar beads, the only Kevlar bead for that tire model, so if want the added weight reduction of the Kevlar bead, in three cases you will have to take it with the Grey Umma Gumma tread. Incidentally, It would benefit you to examine our Durometer hardness readings to compare the actual differences between the Black and Grey tread. You'll be surprised, remember a lower /A number indicates a softer rubber compound.

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