1 month ago by Amelia Lawrey

12 Things With… Luke Musselman, Goodyear Bicycle Tires

The story behind our partners

Luke Musselman is an 18-year veteran of the bicycle industry. Since riding his first bike at four years old, he’s been a passionate fan of and participant in the sport. From riding every day for pleasure to falling in love with racing at 14, you could say he knows the ins and outs of the industry. Today, Musselman is the president of Goodyear Bicycle Tires, manufacturers of the rubber we trust to keep our athletes upright and in the fight. We sat down with him to discuss all things treads, tubeless and taking the unconventional path. 

I just love cycling. I’ve been riding bikes since I was four. I started racing when I was 14 and fell in love with it. My kids ride their bikes to school. It provides a sense of independence, especially with kids. I’ve had a car for nine years, I looked at it the other day and was like, I should probably get an oil change. I needed to change it because I don’t drive as much as I used to – I ride. From an environmental standpoint, mental health standpoint, and being outside, it’s an amazing sport.


Luke racing in the Gateway Cup.

My grandfather was a huge, huge influence in my life.
Since entering the bike industry, I’ve never gone to work a day. And I truly, truly mean that. I love it. Have you seen my office? There are bikes everywhere! I emotionally identified with that love and that goes back to my grandfather. He first shared the quote with me, “At the end of the day, find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life, and success will come.”

At Goodyear Bicycle Tires, every single person in our company comes from a cycling background. We have no one from the automotive or outside industries. Everyone lives it and breathes it. Most people are in this industry because it’s a lifestyle and they just love cycling, they love bikes, everything about it. I’ve been knee-deep in the cycling industry since 2005, tires since 2016, and have learned a lot.

We’ve seen more change in five years than there was in the previous 50. That’s being driven by a couple of things. First, the introduction of disc brakes into road bikes. It’s opened up the ability to run much wider tires. Basically, you had a caliper on a traditional road bike and that limited you to a 28 millimeter wide tire or a 30 at a push. What we know, especially from learning from the automotive industry, is sometimes when you need to reduce rolling resistance, you need to shorten the contact patch. In order to do that, you need to widen it and run lower pressure. You couldn’t do that with narrow tires, especially moving into tubeless from tubular.


Inside the Good Year Bicycle Tires factory in Taiwan.

Tubeless is a game-changer, especially for pro-road cyclists.
When you run a tubeless tire, you really start to see the advantages at 28mm and above where you can truly drop back down. Removing the caliper and going to a disc brake opens up a lot of area at the top of the fork and seat stays because it’s taking that braking mechanism away from the rim. Now we’re not limited to how wide we can make the rims. We can make everything wider, bring down pressures, and redesign the tires altogether. 

A tire from 10 years ago is almost unrecognizable today. Constructions, materials, everything has changed. That’s going to allow us to reduce rolling resistance, greatly increase wet grip, which is incredibly important, especially in the beginning and the end of the seasons where you’re transitioning from roads that are fully wet to sort of wet, and sort of dry to fully dry. 

We need improved infrastructure, especially in the United States. People need to feel safe on a bike in order to ride a bike on the road. If you look at the uptick in gravel over the past few years, people do it because they feel safe. They’re not on a road where there’s no shoulder or there’s traffic; they feel safe doing it. And if you go to Europe, it is still a leisure enthusiast activity, but it’s also an authentic mode of transportation. It’s part of the overall larger mobility infrastructure and I’d like to see that happen in the United States.


Using laser alignment to construct a tire.

Human Powered Health Cycling has been open to embracing newer technologies.
Road cycling is very traditional so there’s been some resistance to change in the industry. We were lucky enough to come in at a time when we could take a fresh look at it. We didn’t have legacy products or legacy thinking, so we could really take a new approach to it. And we’ve been a huge supporter of tubeless since day one. 

We made a prototype just for Human Powered Health. The performance staff wanted some slight changes, and we were in the perfect position to oblige because we have our own dedicated factory. This is a product that wouldn’t necessarily be needed by the everyday consumer; it was too optimized. But owning our own factory, allows us to be very dedicated and patent certain things with our tires. By having our own dedicated factory, we were able to make adjustments to an inline product and provide custom one-off items out of the same mold, but different slightly different changes and material. It took two weeks. That’s impossible to do anywhere else. We have complete control and that’s what it’s about, controlling the product from design, development, and production.

The team is riding three different tires. The team is training on a mixture of Eagle F1 R, Eagle F1 SuperSport R, and the Vector Sport, our more durable all-season tubeless road tire. What’s great is the team has chosen to go tubeless, not only from a racing standpoint but also with the bikes they’re training on. Tubeless greatly reduces the number of flats so that people can continue to ride. In competition, the team is picking between the Eagle F1 R tire, which is a new tire we just launched in March and the lighter weight Eagle F1 SuperSport R, which is a little bit thinner, doesn’t quite have the puncture protection levels, but it reduces the rolling resistance substantially.


A special mark, only the professional teams get the yellow logo.

Tires can make the absolute biggest difference to an athlete’s performance.
It is pretty clear-cut. It is hopefully the only item of equipment that touches the ground unless something’s gone very wrong. On the flip side, rolling resistance is vitally important but also not getting a flat tire. If you’re in the lead bunch, and you get a flat tire, you’re out of the race. You may be willing to give up a couple of watts of rolling resistance in return for improved puncture protection so that you have a safety net.

If you want to work in cycling, be involved as early and as much as you can. Immerse yourself in the local community, whether that’s racing, group rides, or working at a bike shop; just be involved. Get to know the companies through the people. Everyone I know who’s successful in this industry is in it because they love cycling first and foremost. It is a passion-driven industry.