Thread: New 36" tyre
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Old 2017-11-30, 09:32 PM   #6
Mostly OKish Unicyclist
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Stockon, UK
Posts: 1,661
I did promise that I would give you the back story behind what has been happening with the tyres (this is going to be a long post, so sit back).

All the 36" tyres in the world (except the Walt tyre) are made by a small factory in Taiwan. It is a small family business and they were quite innovative on what they produced and specialised in producing odd products. They had a large tool that was adaptable and worked with a wet production process. I met guy once... we are the same age and although we did not speak the same language we were able to communicate.

In August 2016, he suddenly died.

We had a production run in the factory at the time for delivery in November. We were obviously worried this would be the end of the 36" tyre production although his widower assured us that he was not the only person in the factory and production would continue. So we placed our order for January and then our April order... then they tell us they can not do it! not only could not do it, but could not even complete our November order.

We worked together with them and some other factories to help them complete the November order (they needed some components they did not have). Although beyond that it was no tyres!

Our production had already started on all the unicycles and we had no tyres for 2 production runs at least!

We did 2 things then. We looked for someone to take on the tooling and looked for some way to keep unicycle production going.

To keep production going we looked at all the spare tyres we had as a group around the world. We pooled all of these and sent them back to Taiwan to go on the unicycles (this I think will explain the shortage of spare tyres for you).

We immediately tried to buy the full tooling set. That needs a little explanation... there are 4 tools required to make these tyres. 1. the tread, 2. the carcass, 3. the bead and 4. the main tool (this is called the bath).
For Nightrider 36" we owned tool 1 and had part owner ship of 2 and 3.
For Nightrider 32" we owned 1,2 and 3.
They would not sell us the 36" 2 and 3 as they wanted to sell as a going concern.
Buying the bath was out of the question. The bath is the universal tool and the core of the factory... going price $1,000,000

So we looked for partners to work with us. We needed a company with a compatible bath and the skills to build these large tyres. This we found in one of the large tyre manufactures who we already worked closely with. We commissioned them to manufacture tool 2 and 3 for the 36".

As they were looking at samples of the tyres and at the tools, the new company suggested that they had materials that could potentially produce a lighter version. We jumped at this suggestion, even though they said it would add to the cost. It is worth saying that this company has led the world in lightening tyres in the last few years.

In July (only weeks before our November container is placed with the factories) we received the first off's the tool. They could only run the 32" tyre as the 36" tool 2 and 3 were not complete in time. So I built up a 32" and tested them. The standard tyre was good, it felt very similar to the old one. The quality was noticeably better. The interesting bit was the light weight one... wow! it was amazing. It performed so much better, it was responsive and controllable in a way I did not expect. Not all good news though. I could not keep the tyre on the rim! There was something wrong, so we got back to the factory immediately and asked them to check out why this was happening. It turned out that the bead tool was incorrect... so needed updating (more money!).

Now... timing. We decided to have faith in the company that not only could they correct the problem in the 32", but also finish the 36" in time. The problem from our side was, that we had to trust them, there was no more time for samples.

That brings up to date and the delivery arrived last Friday (Yes, we took a delivery of a container on Black Friday... madness!)

Roger Davies in the UK
The UK's Unicycle Source
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