Do you enjoy watching ‘how it’s made’ videos? If that’s you, and you’ve ever wondered how motorcycle tires get made, then the folks behind the Beautiful Work channel on YouTube have just the video for you. It’s a channel that specializes in these types of videos, going deep inside the processes used by companies in South Korea to make everything from baseball caps to bricks. This video, though, is all about motorcycle tires—and we get an approximately 11-minute-long glimpse inside the Shinko production line.
If you just listen to it and watch the images on screen, what you’ll get is mostly production line ASMR, of course minus any chemical smells that your brain would expect to come from manufacturing something like tires. However, if you turn the closed captions on, you’ll get choice bits of information dropped in over the course of the video, that tell you what’s going on. The closed-captions were written in English, so while you can opt for automatic translation in the language settings, you’ll probably be in the most luck that way.
The process, like anything else involving compounding, requires a set recipe. Workers take a prescribed amount of caoutchouc, or natural and unvulcanized rubber, and then add specific amounts of other things to it. This can include stabilizing materials, various chemicals, and even a certain amount of synthetic rubber, depending on what the recipe calls for.
All of it gets mixed up and combined, until you get big sheets that have gone through all the various mixing and combination steps. When they’re ready for marking, a paint machine on the assembly line draws a specific color on them to indicate what the compound is. That way, workers down the line can make sure that sheets of the proper compounds are combined later on to create each type of tire later in the process.
If you’ve ever looked at manufacturer descriptions of tires and seen talk of different shoulder and tread compounds in use, this video gives a strong visualization of exactly how that happens. When it’s time to mold actual tires, workers pull long strips of the appropriate tire compounds together, all pieced together appropriately.
They’re fitted around and into a tire mold, which then stamps things like the appropriate tread pattern, the company logo, and any other appropriate information into their surfaces. After the tires come out of the molds, they go through inspection to meet quality control standards—and, at least, in this video, this part is done by humans, not robots.
Clearly, different companies are going to have slightly different processes for doing things. Likewise, every tire company closely guards their individual compound recipes. However, as a general overview to help better understand those two round things that you entrust your life to every time you ride, it’s really cool to see.