Riding on Run-Flats
A sense of adventure, a crash helmet, and a certain level of balancing skills are ‘must-haves’ when taking a quad bike off-road. But with Goodyear run-on-flat ATV tyres fitted to your Kawasaki KLF400 you can leave the latter requirement behind, as amongst other characteristics, stability is one of their key features, even in extreme terrain. The tyres also afford freedom from worry and they put an end to solving stupefying situations such as how to recover an ATV vehicle with flat tyres that’s stranded in the middle of a muddy quagmire.
Despite its tyres’ advantages Goodyear is rarely talked about when it comes to ATV tyres; a market dominated by imported brands. Hence the manufacturer is keen to get a firm hold on the serious side of the ATV scene through the industry’s first run-flat ATV tyre. So serious in fact, that it invited Tyres & Accessories to compare, contrast and talk new tyre technology, during a day of quad biking.
Goodyear has been progressing the concept of an ATV run-flat since the 90s, a time when both ATV tyre sales and run-flat technology were increasing in importance. Its aim has always been to develop tyres for use on serious farm machinery, explained Goodyear Dunlop farm tyre specialist Mark Turner, and the run-flat version of the ATV tyre is a further extension of that aim.
There are two run-on-flat tyres available from the US manufacturer, the Tracker EMT, available for OE and replacement fitment and the Mud Runner EMT, designed exclusively for the replacement market. The Tracker EMT is available in 14 sizes, whilst the Mud Runner EMT is available in 10 sizes in 25-27 inches.
Like the more familiar passenger car run-flat, the ATV-EMT has a 50 mile run-on-flat capability, but only at speeds of 25mph. The sidewall reinforced tyre also mounts on standard ATV OE wheels which is key for the replacement market. In addition it offers the accustomed run-flat features such as reduction in damage to wheel and brakes as well as improved vehicle stability and manoeuvrability. With the low speeds that utility ATVs operate at there is no safety requirement for an accompanying TPMS as in the case of the car. Instead the insert contour of the tyre is designed so that the rider can feel the flat tyre whilst still benefiting from the run-flat performance.
As far as the ATV-EMT concept is concerned it appears to be a logical next step from passenger car run-flat developments. “Awareness of run-flat technology in general is increasing, they’re OE fitments are increasing on cars, and that helps sell the idea on an ATV, it’s simply a natural extension of passenger car tyre technology,” comments Mark Turner. The technology can prevent a disabling flat tyre, downtime due to repair and the need to carry repair kits. The ATV-EMT uses run-flat technology developed for the Goodyear high performance passenger car EMT tyre. It has a wide, flat bead for improved tyre/wheel retention with apex used to stiffen the sidewall and insure the correct bead shape.
The tyre was first shown at last year’s Cereals show where Goodyear provided a practical demonstration for visitors. However it has been available in the US since 1998, and was picked up by the ATV press in 2002 when a series of tests conducted by ATV Magazine declared the Mud Runner EMT as the “smoothest ride.”
Thanks to the higher margins the run-on-flats present a lucrative opportunity for dealers. Goodyear distributes its ATV tyres through national wholesalers and 10 dealers from its Farm Tyre Specialist Network. The British Rubber Company is the leading independent farm tyre specialist belonging to that network and according to Jason Reynolds the business is very successful with Goodyear ATV tyre sales. Mr Reynolds has in fact got Goodyear ATV run-on-flats fitted to his own quad bike and describes them as “marvellous” claiming that they have “transformed” the handling of his bike. “Because of the sidewall strength the tyres are a lot more rigid and stability is improved. You also have the added security that they will get you home if you get a puncture, I’ve had three punctures and each time the tyres have got me safely home,” commented Mr Reynolds.
The tyres seem to have the endorsement of the dealer but at a 20-25 per cent price mark up, is there a market out there amongst strapped-for-cash UK farmers? Jason Reynolds believes so: “Once somebody has tried the tyres and seen the difference in performance the cost isn’t really an issue. There is a market out there for them, especially with hill farmers who work 10-15 miles away from the farm, and use their ATV as a second tractor. I recently spoke to one of my customers about the tyres and they said that they’d never known a tyre last as well.”
Mark Turner also claims that the tyres are starting to sell well in the UK market, even though the manufacturer has yet to start its marketing campaign. Goodyear explains that it is now in a position where it has the stock available and can begin to push sales; needless to say ATV run-on-flats will soon be brought to the consumers attention. Goodyear’s farm tyre specialist is positive that the run-on-flats will share a similar success in the UK as they have in the US, adding that both ATV tyre and vehicle sales are growing in farming as well as in the recreational sector of the market. Goodyear’s current ATV line up may suit its farm business, but with all its tyres marked NHS (Not for Highway Service) it will not catch a glimpse of the increasing on-road sector in the near future, perhaps that will be its next move.