The innovative new Islabikes Cyclo-cross tyres

We’ve designed a series of high-performance, lightweight, cyclo-cross racing tyres for young riders. The Islabikes Gréim series of tyres are unique, not only in that they are built to our specific proportional design but also because they are available in sizes that will fit 24in, 26in and 700c wheels.

Since Islabikes began our primary aim has been to give children a better experience of cycling. To help achieve this we have designed and produced our own range of proportionally sized components such as saddles, handlebars, stems, brake levers, cranks and wheels. But one thing that has been missing from that list is tyres.

With limited tyre choice available for children from existing brands we wanted to develop a performance-oriented cyclo-cross tyre that would perfectly complement the entire Islabikes Luath range.

We also realised that existing cyclo-cross tyres for 24in and 26in wheels tend to be more suited to hard, fast grass courses. They can’t cope with the muddy conditions riders typically experience in British cyclo-cross races. Our brief was to create a tyre that was more of a multi-terrain mud tyre that could handle challenging conditions.

How do you design a tyre?

The innovative new Islabikes cyclo-cross tyres

Firstly we looked at the conditions and types of riding young cyclo-cross riders experience. We also know that most young Islabikers will ride one tyre for all their off road riding and racing, so we set out to produce a tyre that would excel under these conditions and give these young riders more confidence.

We recognised that high-performance mud tyres have lots of spacing for mud shedding, so we wanted to incorporate this into our design. We also looked at where riders needed the most traction, such as when they are cornering or riding off-camber sections. We then examined the required tread angles to give superb grip. Even at the most extreme angles, we wanted side edge grip that would prevent riders slipping on technical terrain.

Then we incorporated further features that our tyre would require. For example, we wanted the centreline profile to be very compact in the middle to help reduce rolling resistance. By having a solid centreline, when the rider is perpendicular to the ground the tyre almost acts like a road tyre because there is a constant contact patch.

With young riders in mind we’ve proportionally sized the tyre knobs and spacing so that they increase as the tyre size increases, from widths of 28c to 30c to 32c. This proportional sizing reduces weight whilst achieveing the best mud shedding along with the correct amount of grip.

Turning good ideas into reality

The innovative new Islabikes cyclo-cross tyres

Once we’d finalised the tread pattern we wanted, we then sourced a manufacturer to work with and began pooling our expertise, coming up with a variety of different tyre compounds, casings, puncture protection, beading and TPI (threads per inch) to consider.

Firstly we chose an all-round compound that would be very durable and affordable yet still supple enough to offer excellent performance. We also had to decide on the casing which is measured in TPI (threads per inch). The higher the TPI, the more supple the sidewall which will increase the tyre contact patch with the ground aiding grip and comfort. Our Gréim Pro tyres have 185TPI while the Gréim tyres have a 72TPI.

With those choices made, tread pattern designs were sent to the factory for 3D printing to enable us to review the design in 3D and make any alterations if necessary. This led to small, subtle changes: alterations of 0.2mm here and there. When we were happy with the 3D-printed version we then checked samples of the casings for suppleness.

Once all the details were perfected, we produced prototypes for real word testing. Isla along with other members of the team then put these tyres through a performance-testing programme. Only when they were content the tyre was right did we commit to production.

Tyres for all

The innovative new Islabikes cyclo-cross tyres

Although this process started with our Pro Series tyres, we have made two different tyres both sharing the same compound and tread pattern. The Lightweight folding Gréim Pro (pronounced ga-rhyme meaning ‘grip’ in Scots Gaelic) has a tan sidewall, while the Gréim has a black sidewall, is a little heavier but comes with added puncture protection for more general use.

The Gréim Pro is more specific to people looking for marginal gains in competition, its performance advantage is apparent with young cyclo-cross racers no longer having to struggle with grip in muddy conditions. In fact, because the tyres are available in 700c we expect adult cyclo-cross racers to adopt them, too. Members of our in-house Islabikes cyclo-cross team are already using them.

We’re particularly proud to have been able to filter many of the benefits of the Pro Series tyres down to all of our bikes making these advancements available to more children. If children are racing at weekends, or if they’re riding to school over a variety of terrain there is now a versatile tyre available for them.

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