The next time a sudden loss of traction pitches you unceremoniously into the dirt chances are, like the rest of us, you’ll be cursing your rubber instead of your “formidable” talents. Rather than swap brands, experiences just like that inspired Rick Atkinson put his head, heart and hard-earned cash into creating the best-performing, longest lasting hoops on the market. Now proven in desert competition, the MOTOZ brand is expanding it’s range to include tyres designed to excel in wet conditions as well. Appropriately, we caught up with Rick in the back of the ADB van while sheltering from a thunderstorm at the Sunny Corner Trail Ride.
ADB: What first got you into making tyres?
RA: Days like today! I’ve been riding all my life and on those memorable days where you’d have a new tyre on and come flying around your favorite corner and thump! You’d hit the deck thinking ‘what the hell happened?!’ For me, firstly, it was the personal challenge of how to fix the problem and second, to try to increase a tyre’s wear characteristics to make them work better even after they’ve lost their edges.
I knew the owner of a factory in Thailand who wanted to move towards producing more sophisticated products and together we looked for someone to give us some help. You just can’t find people to teach you how to design an off-road tyre so I decided to do all the design and development myself.
How many types have you got in your range now?
By next year there’ll be five different groups and various sizes within those groups giving us a range of about 30 types in all.
Your first batch of tyres impressed in the dry but there were mixed feelings once conditions became a bit dump…
Because we listened too much to what the weather was going to do in the future, we designed our first front tyres for too narrow segment. Originally we used natural rubber which is unreal in the dry but doesn’t perform as well in the wet. Natural rubber is more flexible so you have to build the tread block structures to compensate. What we came up with was a knob that was radically wider at the base which carried the added benefit that mud doesn’t stick to them as much. We’ve built a good reputation for building tough types but a few people told us that they didn’t work too well in the wet.
Has that feedback changed the way you do things?
Absolutely. It’s particularly important to get the front tyre right, so in the last 12-18 months we’ve focused on developing new compounds for excellent wet-weather traction land redeveloping the pattern on the fronts. Customers will start seeing some of those new products over the next few months.
What else is in the pipeline?
We’re now working on a competition motocross range which will be very lightweight and tailored (like everyone else’s tyres) to give maximum performance rather than long life. Through our learning process we’e come up with some tread patterns that are unique and work a lot better than the standard square blocks.
Are you looking to support riders in the future?
We give away quite a few tyres but have got a policy that we won’t pay anyone to use them as that doesn’t make our products better. What does is getting them into the field to the people who are doing the most riding and listening to their feedback. ADB
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