Vee Rubber goes where no other manufacturer has tread with newest offering
When Vee Rubber launched its 30-inch front tire at V-Twin Expo in 2009, there was plenty of buzz.
But when Vee Rubber teamed up with Metalsport Custom Motorcycle Wheels and award-winning custom bike builder Matt Hotch to unveil the 32-inch tire in Cincinnati earlier this year, the result left the wowed custom builders in attendance in awe.
The world’s first 32-inch billet wheel/tire combination is just the latest creation to come from the Thailand-based manufacturer. First came the 26-inch tire, which satisfied custom builders for a short time.
“That evolved about three years ago into our 30-inch, which everyone thought was crazy, and now we’ve been working on this project for about a year. It’s taken a logistics and tooling and design, and we have a 32,” John Leale, vice president, North America, ATV/motorcycle for Vee Rubber America Inc., proudly displayed to Powersports Business during V-Twin Expo.
Leale knew from the outset that the marketplace for 32-inch fronts isn’t overwhelming, which is exactly how he prefers his markets.
“It plays into our goal of capturing niche markets. We’re never going to sell thousands and thousands of them, although the 26 is selling pretty well,” Leale said. “The concept is we have a niche tire in dirt bike or ATV, and now they see Vee Rubber because of this crazy tire and it gives us brand name recognition. Sales have grown every year, so apparently it’s working.”
The launch provided Leale with all the feedback he needed about producing the world’s largest front tire for motorcycles.
“Everyone here has been going crazy about it,” he said. “It’s been a swarm of people. You can walk by sometimes and see 15-20 people around the bike. It’s unique and crazy.”
Leale was plenty ready to partner with Hotch and Metalsport once again, just as they had done with Vee Rubber’s 30-inch front previously.
“We wanted to pick a bike builder who is well known, which lends itself to giving more clout and legitimacy,” Leale said. “And Metalsport is the premier wheel builder in the U.S. Absolute quality. They wanted to be radical and came to us with the 26, the 30 and now the 32.”
“The joke when we launched the 30 was ‘When are you coming out with a 32?’” Leale laughed.
Last year at the Laughlin River Run, however, Leale estimates he spotted multiple hundreds of 30-inch fronts.
“The 30s are almost not even unique anymore. The 26 has become like a standard. If you have any chopper custom, you have a 26 on it,” he said. “You have to be able to handle the bike and ride it, and all the bikes here, you can ride them.”
The lucky new owner of the Hotch custom bike on which the 32 was displayed in Cincinnati will be able to give a full report on the 32 later this summer. Last year, he rode from California to Sturgis on a 30.
“The sky’s the limit now that we have the tooling,” Leale cautioned.