When you think about it, the term "tire industry" is pretty generic and really doesn't do this global industry justice. That two-word identification encompasses a whole array of applications that often have little in common, other than they need tires to enable movement.
A few weeks back, I had the chance to experience two tires that truly represent the extreme ends of the business.
First up was an unexpected pleasure—a mid-winter bicycle ride in Northeast Ohio. It was Presidents Day weekend, and three days of glorious warm, dry weather allowed me to enjoy the variety of trails that populate our region.
I dutifully pumped the bicycle tires to proper levels, hooked up the bike rack to my car, and headed out. Unfortunately, upon arrival at the trailhead, I discovered I had a flat tire. Luckily, my bike shop was nearby, and they were able to fix it up quickly and still get me out for my late afternoon ride. The tire itself was in good shape, and the replacement tube cost a mere $4, with labor boosting the cost to $20.
That's a far cry from the tires that transported the trucks at the Monster Jam live event I attended the next day in Cleveland. It was my first Monster Jam competition, having won a raffle at work for the tickets provided by BKT Tires, the official tire for the series. It also allowed me to spoil my 6-year-old grandson, a fan of the Grave Digger truck in the series.
And the tires BKT supplies bear no resemblance to the ones on my bike from the day before. The BKT tires are 66 inches in diameter and 43 inches wide, weigh 800 pounds each (including the wheels) and cost several thousand dollars each. They are operated at low pressure to better enable the drivers to maneuver the Monster trucks in a variety of wheelies, spins and high-flying jumps.
And when the tires outlive their usefulness, they're sent to an elephant preserve as amusement for the animals.
Both part of the tire industry? Most definitely. Similarities to each other? Absolutely none.