How a bike tyre is made
September 10, 2010 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered how a bicycle tyre is made? Schwalbe tyres are constructed by Hung-A in Indonesia; this video follows the whole process from initial design to final testing.

As a bonus, once you've got your tyre, here's how to fit it.
posted by SyntacticSugar (22 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
"Tyre" *giggle* You Brits spell the darnedest ways.

The video was interesting enough, but it seemed like... I dunno... a commercial for Schwalbe tires.
posted by bjork24 at 7:28 AM on September 10, 2010

Nice. Also, I highly recommend Schwalbe tires as a whole, and the Marathon city/touring tires in particular -- which one depends on how you need to balance durability vs. speed. My standard go-fast city bike tire is the Marathon Racer and stay tough tire is the Marathon Plus HS.

For long tours, drop the coin and get the Marathon Supremes.

They aren't cheap tires, true. By the time you replace them, you'll understand how inexpensive they are, but they're not cheap.
posted by eriko at 7:29 AM on September 10, 2010

Is this something I would need a bike to understand?
posted by cavalier at 7:31 AM on September 10, 2010

I admit to being a manufacturing geek, and especially when it comes to elastomeric compounds, so I watched the whole thing. I was unfamiliar with Schwalbe (I don't get my bike out very often--couldn't tell you what tires I've got, but I sincerely doubt they're anything special) but I knew within seconds that this was a German company with a German manufacturing philosophy.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that; I just noticed that what Deming taught 50 years ago was that the Germans (and perhaps formerly Americans) will inspect quality into a part, and the Japanese took to his 14 point statistical process methodology which requires setting high manufacturing standards, but relying on SPC rather than inspection to produce.

By the early 90s, the so-called Japanese method (accurately enough since Ishikawa & Honda implemented these methods long before they became the basis for TQM) was the apparent favorite globally.

I have been out of manufacturing since 2000, so I wonder--after seeing this video, if that is still the case. The Schwalbe method seems like a blend of the BMW inspect-inspect-inspect and the Ishikawa SPC philosophies.

Rubber extrusion and manufacturing fascinates me still. I would be amazed to find such a clean rubber compounder in the states--if I could find a rubber compounder in the states!
posted by beelzbubba at 7:31 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]

Maybe it's cheaper to inspect for quality where wages are low, rather than rejigging the process? Or a diminishing return? I don't know what the failure rate is, would be interesting to know.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 7:39 AM on September 10, 2010

It is really amazing what difference a good quality bicycle tire makes in better ride quality, handling, rolling resistance, and reduced punctures. I have some top-end "race" tires that aren't kevlar belted or otherwise especially made puncture resistant, yet have fewer flats that people I've gone riding with who use cheap, heavy tires.
posted by exogenous at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2010

"guillotine" "torture chamber" "skins" "carcass"
posted by Sys Rq at 8:06 AM on September 10, 2010

Awesome. Just what I need for operations management in my intro to business class. Thanks for posting.
posted by fogovonslack at 8:39 AM on September 10, 2010

Schwalbe-blau, but as a bike wonk, I liked it a lot.
posted by everichon at 9:01 AM on September 10, 2010

Schwalbe makes some great tires. Big Apples are the best thing ever for the coffee bike/booze cruiser/urban mtb.
posted by box at 9:19 AM on September 10, 2010

Whoever translated this video seems (unsurprisingly) like their primary language was German. I heard a lot of stuff in there that sounded a little off -- "The creation of each new Schwalbe tire is for us a fresh challenge" smacks of German sentence structure.

That said, this was a fascinating video. I've often wondered just how my bike's tires were made.
posted by kdar at 9:22 AM on September 10, 2010

"Tyre" *giggle* You Brits spell the darnedest ways.

If I remember right, I think some zealous editors on Wikipedia have fought the lamest of edit wars over tire-vs-tyre in the Michelin article. I'm British but I've become so non-Britishized that I get a bit of nostalgia when these spellings pop up; it's like seeing "lorry" or "pram" on the screen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2010

Really interesting video. I won't feel so bad net time I buy decent tires instead of the 2 for $10 special at Performance Bike.

And those Marathon Supreme tires? You will take them out of my warm, uncallused, uninjured, relaxed dead hands that did not even notice the Muni track I just crossed at 20 mph.
posted by dirty lies at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2010

This was very informative. For the past few flats days, I'd become convinced that my bike's tires were made of specially-concocted nail magnets and the tubes within are galvanized with the tears of Italian football players.
posted by kittyprecious at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2010

"THE CARCASS is made here."

posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 10:49 AM on September 10, 2010

Wow. Just got me set up with a Schwalbe kevlar-something-or-other today because frosh week always tears up my commute. I'd never heard of them before.

posted by clvrmnky at 11:54 AM on September 10, 2010

"Tyre" *giggle* You Brits spell the darnedest ways.

Careful, or they'll throw you in gaol.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2010

Thanks for your comment, beelzbubba. Now I've read about statistical process control and it looks like a fascinating subject.

The video seems interesting too, although I haven't finished it yet, but I have to comment on the music, the kind of which I was surprised to still be hearing. Who invented this 'industrial demo video music' and how far back does it date? Must be at least the early eighties.
posted by Anything at 12:08 PM on September 10, 2010

Kick'em to the kerb, ZenMasterThis.
posted by everichon at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2010

Needs more Mr. Rogers.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 6:50 PM on September 10, 2010

I'm more of a Continental fan, as they make 27x1.25 sized Gatorskinz for my retro-racer/super-commuter. They also make a line of hand-laid touring tires (and a lot of tubular tire makers also make their tires in small batches by hand.) Like anything expensive and made in Germany, the advantages are largely subjective, but damn, those Top Contacts look and feel like a premium product should. Wish they came in 26x2.1, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2010

Oh yeah, Conti Gatorskinz are sweet. I love those and Michelin Pro Race whatevers (formerly Michelin Axial Pro).
posted by exogenous at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2010

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