Goodyear Returns to Bicycle Tires

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which hasn’t made a bicycle tire since 1976, is getting back into the segment by signing a four-year licensing deal with Kent International Inc., the No. 2 U.S. maker of bikes.

The closely held bikemaker will sell the Chinese-manufactured, Goodyear-approved replacement tires through retailers in the U.S. and Canada such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dunham’s Athleisure Corp. The tires should “show up on store shelves momentarily,” said Arnold Kamler, Kent’s chairman. Financial details of the transaction weren’t provided.

The arrangement with Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear, which offered bicycle tires as part of its original 1898 product line, is helping Parsippany, New Jersey-based Kent expand its bike-accessory offerings. The deal builds on its opening of a South Carolina factory last year in support of Wal-Mart’s Made in America campaign.

“It’s hard to differentiate your product from anyone else in the industry,” said Kamler. “But Goodyear is the iconic brand of tires and tubes in the United States.”

Wal-Mart, which also sells Goodyear-branded tire inflators and automotive floor mats not manufactured by Kent, controls 50 percent of the retail bicycle market, Kamler said. That’s about 8 million bikes in the U.S., according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association.

For Goodyear, the arrangement provides revenue and another way to get its brand name in front of shoppers.

“Consumers have a connection with the brand and its history through experiences with our tires, our blimps, and our auto racing activities,” said Keith Price, a company spokesman.

Now they can also ride with Goodyear as they pedal down the road.

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