There has been much controversy and plenty of debate over the last weeks and months over the varying wheel sizes available in the sport of mountain biking.

Once upon a time everywhere you looked there was standardisation: everyone was riding 26″ wheels. Then, thanks in no small part to the perseverance of Gary Fisher, 29″ wheels started to gain a following. Over the last couple of years they’ve made a large impact, with 29er equipped bikes winning XC races the world over, and most manufacturers (even Orange!) adding at least one 29er bike to their range.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, the news hit that Nino Schurter had won the opening round of the UCI World Cup on a 650B equipped bike!

It turns out that Nino was travelling with a rack of bikes with every variation of wheel size thinkable – some £30,000 worth of kit in bikes alone.

So….where does that leave the rest of us? What does the average ride on a limited budget choose to ride nowadays? 26″ for flickability and big air? 29er for smooth rolling over the rocks and endless momentum on the rolling trails? Or something in between – the best of both worlds or a double compromise – 650B?

Well, after very little research and a few half days of development, Wheelism is pleased to announce the launch of the ZipTyre – a variable depth tyre using the latest in Zip Technology to allow a single bike to run anything from 26″ to 29″ with only a single quick modification.

One bike can run 26" on some gnarly trails, then with a quick zip and some extra air it's an XC race bike on 29"
One bike can run 26" on some gnarly trails, then with a quick zip and some extra air it's an XC race bike on 29"

Here’s how it works…..

Zip Tyre - Ultimate Expandability for Perfect Trail Adaption
Zip Tyre - Ultimate Expandability for Perfect Trail Adaption

Boundless Ultra Lightweight Latex and Sidewall Hollowfill Inflatable Tech Expander (BuLL/SHiTe ©) rubber with Singlepull Zip-Release means it’s quick and easy to move from one size to another.

Folding Internal Rubber Kink-Offs (FirKOff ©) expand during pumping to allow the overall diameter of the tyre to change, meaning there’s no need to swap wheels.

Run 26″ downhill, then pull the zip and race the same bike in XC. Want to ride Enduro-style on 650B but use 700C for the commute home – it’s all possible with the Zip Tyre!

The system has a number of unique benefits:

  • Cheap – save thousands on new bikes. Run just one bike with any wheel size!
  • Lightweight – all it takes to change wheel size is added air. Hydrogen adapters are also available for extra weight savings.
  • Versatile – there are tyre options to allow you to run 26″/29″, 26″/650B, 650B/29″, 24″/700c, and we’re working on duo-zip width adjustable tyres so you can run the same tyre as 700c/18mm on the track, and then switch to 26″ x 2.4″ for some gnarly trail!

Of course, any new and innovative technologies are soon imitated by other manufacturers and we’ve already heard that there are similar options in the pipeline from some of the top names in tyres – Marxxis HiLow Roller, Contimental Rubber Queers, Spaceialized Round Controls – to name but a few! There’s even a rumour circulating that Brompton are developing their own tyre for the ultimate Downhill City Bike.

So, put the credit cards back in your wallet and save some room in the bike shed – get yourself a pair of ZipTyres – available from all good bike shops (as soon as I find my sewing kit and and a bit of spare time)

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