An ‘old’ tyre size is making a comeback. Why? Carlton Reid quizzes Chris Hearn of Bohle...


You know something is up when a dormant product category starts to sell. No, it’s not a screwy SKU, ‘touring’ tyres are back in vogue. In the US it’s at ‘hotcakes’ level, in the UK the demand is only just starting to take off – but that 27 x 11/4 inch has returned is not in doubt.

And it’s all to do with the ‘bike to work’ boom.
Chris Hearn, Schwalbe tyres product manager at Bohle, says: “We are enjoying a resurgence in the pre-700C, 27 x 11/4 inch sized tyres. People are now busy digging out their old bicycles from their sheds looking for a more economical form of transport. Schwalbe offers the Marathon Touring tyre in this size, making it the ideal choice for commuting and touring. This is backed up by the HS 159 roadster type tread pattern with a more economical price, yet still with puncture protection.”

Stand by the roadside in any big British city and you’ll see what Chris Hearn means. Fixies may be trendy and every company has at least one in its 2009 stable, but it’s beat-up roadsters and touring bikes that are back with a vengence. In time, these crappy old bikes will need to be replaced by the bike to work newbies. For now, they’re being refurbed, their rotted rubber replaced with new 27 x 11/4 inch tyres.
Of course, MTB-style bikes are being refurbed, too:
“There is certainly a trend to towards commuter-style MTB tyres such as the City Jet which continues to be one of our best-sellers, along with the Silento II, Road Cruiser and the Hurricane,” says Hearn.

“All these have puncture protection belts for reliable commuting. Big tyres are popular, too. Schwalbe began the Balloonbike trend back in 2001 with the Big Apple tyre 26 x 2.00 inch and 26 x 2.35 inch. This type of tyre offers all the suspension needed for commuting, along with the KevlarGuard puncture protection system, so it offers both comfort and reliability. Do not be fooled by their big size, these tyres roll along with surprising ease.”

Hearn thinks the newbie commuters will soon start to realise cycling isn’t just for transport:
“I believe we’ll see an uplift in trekking/commuter style tyres as more and more people are looking to their bicycles not just for transport, but for weekend leisure cycling. Joining this will be the increased demand of the road-racing type tyres due to the massive interest in cyclo sportif events.”

Bohle UK, a wholy owned subsidiary of Bohle GmbH, distributes Schwalbe products through major wholesalers.
“The Schwalbe product range is vast, not only in terms of tyre types, but also in catering for all the various sizes, particularly for the ‘small wheeled’ fraternity and recumbants who need a top quality tyre, but also the older Imperial sizes of 27 x 13/8 inch,” comments Hearn.

“Sales of these tyres are steadily increasing with numerous enquires that begin with ‘do you still make ….’ One particular tyre is the Delta Cruiser with not only the options of gum wall or white wall but also the retro cream colour. Some retailers are already starting to stock these tyres as part of a really broad collection and those that do will reap the benefits in time to come.”

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