The UK Motorcycle Tyre Market: Who Does Wins
For many in the UK tyre trade the motorcycle sector is a bit of an enigma. Bikers need tyres, but they also need specialist attention. The car buyer generally will fit whatever the dealer has to offer, surprisingly often without question.
The Motorcyclist though is another fish altogether. Not only does the motorcyclist generally talk a great deal more about tyres, he, or she, will know more about them and will be more brand aware than the car driver. That creates some difficulty for the fast fit outlet used to pushing the tyres they want to sell.
The case is compounded by the fact that, unlike the auto sector where tyres may be specifically tuned for OE supply, and the aftermarket offered a best option as a replacement tyre across the complete size range; the motorcycle sector retains those finely tuned OE specifications for aftermarket fit (by and large). It is therefore important, for example, that the Honda and the Yamaha, which both use the same size and range of Bridgestone tyre as OE, say, 120/70ZR17 BT 020, are offered the correct suffix code tyre to suit their bike. There are ten variations of this tyre from Bridgestone alone in this particular size.
It is important that the sales staff are aware of the effect of fitting the wrong “120/70ZR17 BT 020” tyre to a bike – especially higher performance road bikes. Harmonics can induce “shimmy” in the steering, or vibration in the frame, or just make the bike noisy and uncomfortable to ride. At Dunlop Steve Male takes the explanation a stage further.
“Manufacturers specify the bike and tell us what they expect from the tyre. Together we specify a tyre and tune it exactly for the bike as an OE fit. That OE fit is a global option and represents what the manufacturer of the bike believes is the correct global tyre for that bike.
We will supply that OE tyre to the manufacturer. However, our own R&D team will design further options, refining the OE specification for different markets. There will possibly still be an exact OE spec.
available for the bike, but there may also be a European spec., an Asian spec., and a North American spec.