An introduction to Tyre Glider, a welcome innovation for mechanics fed up with removing tyres the old fashioned way, from company founder Kevin Baker
This piece first appeared in the March edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
Can you give us a little background on your company?
Tyre Glider was born from an idea of mine after opening a can of tuna in June 2020. I returned to cycling after around 25 years of not riding a bike to start participating in triathlons, and when experiencing a puncture for the first time I quickly realised that bikes had changed a lot since I last rode one and I could not change my tyre.
Honestly, it took me a couple of weeks going back and forth and numerous attempts before I was able to successfully complete the task. I remember thinking that there has to be an easier way. Fast forward to June 2020 when I had my idea when opening a can of tuna and Tyre Glider was born: a new and alternative tool to change bike tyres compared to traditional tyre levers.
I developed the product with a design consultancy agency as I have no experience with the software needed to put my idea into a physical form and spent numerous months testing the product with 3D printed prototypes before being satisfied enough to commission an injection moulding tool to be made.
I then had the final injection moulded prototype tested in a local bike shop for over a month and an ergonomic assessment carried out on the product before I was satisfied and comfortable that the product would help many people as it had already helped me.
Tyre Glider launched on 15th December 2021. From idea to launch took less than a year and a half, which I’m incredibly proud of and the company, although in its infancy, is starting to gain traction within the world of cycling.
What area of the market do you target?
This version of Tyre Glider is predominantly aimed at the road bike, hybrid and gravel market. It does work on mountain bike tyres but I plan on bringing out a specific version for these in the future.
I believe that within these markets mentioned Tyre Glider is suitable for all cyclists of all abilities and once you understand the dynamics of the tool, and apply the correct techniques of its features, changing your bike tyres will become quicker and easier for both those starting out on their cycling journey or those at the top of the sport.
Nobody, I believe, wants to potentially be stuck on the side of the road struggling to change a tyre and if you have ever done so then Tyre Glider could possibly be the alternative you have been looking for.
What makes your product unique – what do you offer that competitors do not?
Tyre Glider is completely unique in its design. It looks nothing like anything currently on the market that removes and installs bicycle tyres. It has a patent-pending feature that has never been seen before where the tool attaches to the rim of the wheel allowing it to glide around whilst reseating the tyre behind it.
Removing the tyre is also unique in its design as the Tyre Glider, once it pulls the tyre over the rim, then sits horizontally without the need of using the spokes. This has the advantage of not damaging any spokes accidentally and also allowing the user to utilise their body weight when trying to remove and refit tight-fitting tyres.
What sort of feedback have you received from the industry?
If I was to describe it in one word, ‘incredible’. Having only launched on 15th December, I have already sold to B2C all over the world including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, India, Thailand, Philippines, Chile, Brazil and all over Europe.
I can honestly say that Tyre Glider has gone global within its first month of launch. Sales have been driven by an independent review done by a YouTuber called ‘Ride with Roy’ and his review at present has now been viewed more than 115,000 times.
The comments posted on the review and also now on my YouTube channel videos have been overwhelmingly positive with many customers calling the product a complete gamechanger. I have also secured B2B sales with companies in Denmark and Germany and now a number of independent stores in Poland and the UK.
I have also teamed with Rehook Bike in the UK where they have taken a supply of Tyre Glider stock in blue and are selling under the Rehook and Tyre Glider brand names.
Covid-19 has provided an unexpected boost to the cycling industry. What impact has it had on your business?
Having only launched just over a month ago it’s hard for me to assess the impact of Covid-19. What is evident to me is that there appears to be a lot more people purchasing bicycle accessories at this time of year compared to normal.
I wasn’t expecting growth of this magnitude in January which from what I have learnt is traditionally a quiet period. My growth could possibly be down to Covid-19 or that it is a unique gamechanger coming into the industry and changing how people remove and install their bike tyres.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
The one that stands out to me at the moment is the advances in e-bike technology. Having seen the explosion of e-bike sales locally to myself whilst walking around in lockdowns when we were permitted, the bikes on display were impressive and opened up cycling to a whole new demographic.
The new e-road bikes have really impressed me, looking at them at a glance it is very hard to tell them apart from a non-e-bike version now.
What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
My plans for 2022 are to grow product sales and establish Tyre Glider in the market of tools that remove and install bike tyres. To do this I will continue to sell B2C through my website to customers all over the world, distributing from fulfilment centres in the USA and EU in 2022, whilst also welcoming onboard independent retailers from all over the globe who would like to stock the Tyre Glider for their customers.
I intend to build the B2B partnerships that have already been established and again welcome distributors worldwide. Being a British company with the product made in the UK, I would like to establish a partnership with one of the UK big distributors to really push the product further in the UK and across the globe so it reaches as many people as possible who would benefit from its use.