Consumer demand brings new product to market
How long have touring and cruiser riders been requesting whitewall tires?
Ask Sukoshi Fahey, sales and marketing manager at Avon Motorcycle Tyres North America, and she’ll say “Forever.”
“Everybody’s been asking for whitewalls for years,” she said. “They want whitewall in every size known to man.”
Avon didn’t quite complete that bill, but riders in 2012 will have a plethora of whitewall options from its Cobra brand, including three for the Cobra AV71 front wheel and three for the AV72 rear. The front sizes available are the MT90B16, 100/90-19 and MH90-21. For the rear, sizes are MT90B16, 140/90B16 and 150/80B16. They fit baggers from 2008 and earlier. New blackwall sizes are also available for the newer baggers, but dealers at the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati were caught up in the new whitewalls. The brand is known for producing sport-tire technology into its touring/cruiser tires.
“There’s no center groove on the Cobra tire, so it doesn’t track,” Fahey said. “It doesn’t follow rain grooves or anything like that. The grooves are tapered so they get more contact patch; the more contact patch, the better the grip. They can handle up to 50 PSI, which is a huge load-carrying capacity.”
Fahey says production of whitewall tires is a taxing experience, both for executives and those on the production lines.
“The thing people have to consider when they’re putting a whitewall on a 200 size is there’s this much sidewall,” Fahey said. “How big is that whitewall going to be? You have to have all the Department of Transportation labeling around it. There’s no room, for starters. The other thing is you lose a lot of your blackwall production capacity every time you do a whitewall. Most manufacturers don’t like doing whitewall, because it’s expensive and time consuming.”
Among the details are mixing a special compound to get the white coloring, as the tires start out “a chalky grey.”
“Then you have to make sure the white and black are not going to bleed together, or you could have issues with cracking,” she said. “You have to coat it with black, so that when it goes through all the machines the white doesn’t get dirty. Then you have to buff off the black and you have to have a certain curvature die just to have every sized tire.”
The Cobra tire is also being offered in bigger sizes to cater to the to the touring/cruiser crowd.
“And we wrap the belt looser on the shoulders so that when they’re leaning into the corner, it makes those big 300s, 250s a lot more maneuverable,” she said.