Racing ahead with providing puncture-resistant bicycle tyres on a global scale

Racing ahead with providing puncture-resistant bicycle tyres on a global scale

Tannus Tyres has enjoyed a record-breaking year in sales of its innovative puncture-resistant tyres. Over the past seven years, Tannus International Limited has established a global distribution network, comprising leading distributor partners present in over 20 countries, which allowed it to expand rapidly. Jazz Walia, CEO of Tannus Tyres, explains how the company has grown and the company’s plans for the future.

Tell us a bit more about your business.

Tannus International Limited ‘TI’ is the international distribution arm of Tannus Co Limited based in the UK. TI is managed by me and I hold 51% of the company and have an extensive portfolio in the bicycle industry. The business has been successful in creating two differentiated puncture-resistant tyre products from what is already available in the market. The Airless tyre and Armour insert are the products that aim to be at the forefront of the cycling industry.

Airless is a tubeless polymer (Aither) tyre – 100% puncture-proof with lightweight core starting at 370g, which is lighter than most pneumatic tyres with inner tube setups. It maintains constant pressure, meaning tyres do not need to be pumped up. It is compatible with almost all wheels including carbon rims and lasts up to 9,000 km, roughly twice the average life of a pneumatic tyre. Tannus HQ has developed a new Airless tyre called ‘Airless 2.0’ and is expected to be released within the next six to twelve months at the next major bicycle exhibition.

Armour is a clincher insert made from Tannus’ patented Aither compound offering protection from the four main types of damage, which includes sharp objects, sidewall tears, rim strikes and pinch flats. The Armour comes in both tube and tubeless variants. It has been rated for 5,000 miles as a benchmark; however, a number of Tannus-sponsored riders have crossed multiple continents on a single set.

How has the business grown since it first started and how did you ensure growth?

Over the past seven years, TI has established a global distribution network comprising leading distributor partners present in over 20 countries, which allowed it to expand so rapidly. This was only possible due to my extensive experience in this industry and the contacts I have made over the years. My experience in marketing made me incredibly aware that bringing the brand to the attention of customers is a key feature in optimising sales. Thus, the marketing team are dedicated to utilising several social, digital and print media streams in its marketing strategy to give the company a strong visible presence. TI’s online business through, and its Amazon site has been effective in driving sales on a global scale. Mastering our online presence will be the most effective way to directly reach customers.

The time and effort on both the product development side and sales side have allowed the company to grow immensely. Being granted patents on our Aither compound, Armour insert and the pin anchorage system for Airless tyres are what made us stand out against the competition. The benefits of Tannus technology include increased comfort, grip, durability, chemical stability, safety and personalisation. Tannus is now effectively considered to be a ‘national champion’ of the domestic cycling industry by the South Korean Government, and we are committed to supporting the brand’s IP, product development and global sales efforts which ultimately uplifts TI as a brand.

2020 represented a year of growth for TI, with revenues growing by over 300%. Part of this is due to locked-down populations replacing some physical activities (e.g. group and gym sessions) with cycling. Based on pre-orders and forecast orders from distributors, the company expect to generate revenue of over £2.7m in 2021 (growth of over 180%)

How did the business start?

Tannus Co. Limited was originally founded in South Korea in 2003. However, Tannus International was founded in 2013 as a joint venture between Youngki Lee, the CEO and Co-Founder of the parent company and me. Tannus International and I were granted a 25-year licence from Tannus HQ for international (ex-Korea) distribution.

Airless tyres were first released in 2011 before the conception of TI, from 2003 to 2011 the South Korean parent company was creating a proprietary material called Aither for the tyres. An evolution of the Aither compound, Aither 1.1, was launched in 2015 and allowed for performance similar to traditional pneumatic tyres.

Although several hundred thousand Airless tyres have been sold globally, sales performance has been hindered by the perception of these tyres as simply solid tyres, which have a reputation for being slow, heavy, difficult to fit, uncomfortable and lacking in grip.

This led to the creation of Tannus Armour, which was released in 2018, five years after the creation of TI. Armour is an Aither foam insert that sits within a tyre, providing a layer of protection against the main types of damage. We believe the reception by customers and the industry globally has been very positive.

What’s the business’ approach to management?

The business’ approach to management is more of an interpersonal one. Everyone is motivated to do their best and reach targets, even management. The team can come to me with any of their ideas and concerns and it is largely encouraged to voice them as it can only help the company’s growth.

What is your company’s vision and goal?

The strategic objective of Tannus is to become the leading provider of puncture-resistant tyre products for the micro-mobility sector.

TI want to continue the positive momentum achieved with the release of the Armour insert, Tannus intends to undertake a number of initiatives over the next few years across their sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing operations. While aiming to pioneer in their initial market of the mountain, biking, racing, BMX ranges and OEMs, they plan to broaden their client base.

Management intends to turn TI into the main global brand and increase volumes sold by turning Tannus International into a genuinely multichannel retailer while optimising costs.

TI plans to bring on many more ambassadors to promote the brand’s products. Many of these ambassadors are to be sponsored by the relevant local distribution partner. The company currently has 100 ambassador riders globally.

What kind of clients do you serve?

The company estimates that between 10–15% of Airless tyres are used primarily for road bicycle racing (e.g. the Ukraine national track team), 20–25% primarily for mountain biking and the rest comprises mostly commuters.

The Armour product is largely gaining interest particularly from the mountain biking sector and also commuters seeking peace of mind at a relatively low cost.

Both Airless and Armour have attracted the interest of a number of prominent bike brands such as Japanese brand, Chacle, whose bikes are fitted with Airless tyres and sell at least 50,000 bikes with Airless tyres per annum. Similarly, Rad Power Bikes have purchased over 20,000 custom Armour units in 2020 to fit their e-bikes.

TI’s client base is broadening as a number of micro-mobility OEMs outside of pure cycling (e.g. wheelchairs, pushchairs and e-scooters) have shown an interest in TI products, particularly Airless tyres

What has your career looked like so far?

My initial experience in the industry was acquired as Sales Manager at mail order company, Sterling House, where I played a large part in introducing remote control helicopters and fully assembled mail order bikes to the UK public.

I have over 20 years’ experience in the bicycle industry and have managed Tannus’ international distribution operation since 2013. I was previously Head of Sales and Marketing at Universal Cycles (acquired by Sports Direct) for almost 10 years and following this, founded Chillbikes, which became a global custom bikes brand. The aim is to continue growing TI as the CEO and bring the attention of the market to the Airless and Armour products.

Which market do you provide services for?

TI provides to the bicycle industry which is forecasted to grow immensely over the next decade and thus is opportune for TI’s product to reach as many customers in the market as possible as they offer a more stress-free way of cycling. Currently, TI products are suited to mountain bikers and everyday commuters. TI hopes to be able to expand into e-bikes, as not only does it open up the idea of cycling to those who would’ve been more hesitant before, but provides an added level of safety to the experience. The bicycle industry can be appreciated on a global scale due to the increased interest in fitness thus TI have no limits as to where they can supply their products to, especially with leading global distributions partners such as Akrovalis, Messingschlager, Moore Large and others.

How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge?

We hire the best in the business and are always looking to apply their knowledge and palette of skills in everyday work. The work can be challenging especially during testing times such as COVID-19 but the distributors have done an exceptional job in tripling sales in some areas of the globe. The team are always aware of new developments in the pipeline and the current movements of the company. Everyone is required to report back with updates and improvements that can be made.

How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard?

The main man with me is Youngki, who has been incredibly collaborative. We push ideas back and forth and ensure the team, as a collective, work well together. Although Youngki Lee is the CEO of the HQ and Co-Founder of TI; he has placed most of the responsibility of executive decisions on me but will sign off on important decisions with me. We are both aware of where our expertise lies and Youngki’s is very much focused on product development whilst I am concerned with growing the company through sales.

How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?

TI has recently hired an Operations Manager to liaise between the different teams in the company and ensure that each one is aware of their role and how they all interlink. I prioritise relationships with my team and that spirit is evidently carried through all the members of TI. As the team is spread across the globe, the main source of communication is through emails and calls. Anyone from any team can contact another without hesitation or the need to go through me. The goal for all is to grow the business over time by hitting targets and revolutionising the cycling industry on a global scale. With everyone having the same determination and the extra push from management, TI work harmoniously together.

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