When Schwalbe sat down a room full of journalists they had brought to Santa Barbara, California and told us they had a “game changing” new product to unveil, my mind immediately turned to thinking about what new super plus size tire we’d be seeing. Thankfully the launch was for an improvement far more important. Schwalbe will be updating their entire lineup of tires with four new tread compounds under the name, ADDIX. Many riders put the majority of their bike-tuning focus towards suspension set up or weight, but tire compounds actually play a massive role in the way a bike feels and rides. The damping characteristics of the rubber, compound harness, and tread pattern are all integral to handling. Creating those specific characteristics in rubber compounds however, is something of a dark art.
Even in 2017, the development of tire rubber compounds is still mostly a trial and error process. According to Markus Hachmeyer who has lead the 30-person development team for ADDIX since its inception in 2015, even though the team knows what to change in order to alter a tire’s properties, the exact amounts of each ingredient are still something that needs to be tinkered with. This means that Schwalbe spent years in their laboratory utilizing specialized testing equipment to fine-tune compounds before arriving at the final four ADDIX rubbers. Wolfgang Arenz, a master rubber compounder, is also a fundamental part of the team. His experience with the art of rubber compounding was fundamental to the creation of ADDIX. Schwalbe also made a 1.5 million dollar investment into a new rubber mixing machine borrowed from the automotive side of the industry, which allows them to precisely control the temperature, mixing time, and mixing rates of the different ingredients. The result is absolute precision in the production process, and in turn, far greater control over the tire’s end qualities.