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We're pleased to be announcing our new LIT urban riding tire here on Crowd Supply. The idea for these tires came about when a dead tail light and stolen front headlight coincided one winter night. The result was a harrowing ride home from work and an investigation into why bicycle tires used so little reflective material on their sidewall, if they used it at all.
LIT tires are designed with a wide (9mm) reflective sidewall that allows cars approaching your bike from in front or behind to see you at night.
LIT tires have a puncture protection layer under the tread to reduce flats. And a long lasting rubber compound. As a folding tire, they offer an Aramid-bead for low rotational weight (especially compared to wire bead tires that can weigh up to twice as much).
The improved visibility is dramatic and there are no tradeoffs to make in terms of performance, durability or cost. Too often, commuter equipment gets lopped into this solely utilitarian classification. We joke that we weren't trying to invent some Soviet-grade reflective tire that only keeps you safe. We want people to enjoy riding our tires. At the end of the day, one of the best ways to increase your bike's performance is to enhance your rolling surface. That was one of the primary considerations when we started designing them. If you're going to change your tires out to something new, they might as well ride like a dream and be a definite upgrade to the stock tires most commuter bikes come with. While they're certainly designed for the urban cyclist, at 28mm, you could use them as a reliable day-tourer that will help you get home safe if you get caught out in the countryside after dark.
Our first model is a 700x28 folding tire that will retail for about $35. This model compares favorably with commuter tires on the market today selling for between $40 and $65 each.
We met with some of the largest bicycle tire manufacturers in the world to find the right partner to produce the LIT tire. When we showed each of them our idea, there was always a moment when their facial expressions said “Why didn't we think of that?”. We selected a major European tire maker as they seemed to have the most experience with the needs of the urban commuter. The project stalled when it came time to pony up for the tread molds for our new tire. Those will cost about $14,000 and when combined with their need for a sizable production order, exceeded our available budget.
We decided that crowdfunding could provide the needed funds and build awareness for our innovative product at the same time. We selected Crowd Supply for our launch and are proud to be introducing our product to you today.
We are teaming up with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), a great local organization, to help raise awareness for the LIT tire. We've agreed to donate $1 for each LIT tire sold during this campaign. In addition to getting a great new set of tires, you'll be helping a bicycle advocacy group at the same time.
We'll send you a singe new LIT tire with free shipping.
LIT has been fully designed, prototyped and is ready for the tooling of production molds. Tire molds cost about $10,000 each and take about 8 weeks to produce. Eventually, we will need to have 2 molds for each size of tire that we intend to produce. To begin with, we are starting with a single mold for our first production run of 2,000 tires.
Bicycle tire manufacturing hasn't changed much in over 50 years, so there's little risk in terms of our ability to ramp up. Since most of our design innovation is in the placement of the wide, reflective strip and that has already been satisfactorily prototyped, we don't believe there is much risk to our being able to deliver high quality, production tires this fall.
Q. Will there be other tire sizes available?
A. Yes. In addition to the 700x28 we are announcing here today, we are planning to produce LIT commuter tires in size 700x35, 26x1.5 and 27x1 1/4. Assuming the current campaign goes well, we will crowdfund those soon.
Q. Will these be sold in local bike shops?
A. Yes. Once we ship to our backers, we will fill orders from online resellers and local bike shops. If you are interested in becoming a LIT dealer or distributor, please contact us at email@example.com.
Q. What European manufacturer is making these tires?
A. Our manufacturing partner asked not to be identified by name as they sell other products in the US and they will not be able to offer these tires to their own dealers. The company is known for its high quality products, has been making tires for over 75 years and produces over 15 million bicycle tires and tubes per year.