Japan has an incredible penchant for making vehicle modification fun, something that is missing from a lot of car cultures. While going through Ricky’s excellent article about the odds and ends of the NYM, I came across the funkiest tire I’ve ever seen on a light green Honda minibike. I had to know more.
The tire was mounted on a custom Honda Motocompo, and if you look closely you’ll see that the tread pattern consisted of cartoon-style footprints. It was the perfect whimsical addition to an already whimsical bike.
The tire is made by Inoue Rubber Company, or IRC. Based in Nagoya, they manufacture exclusively small-sized tires for bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, and wheelchairs. And, they have apparently been around since 1926!
The official model of the tire is the MB52, but they are also called the ashiato (footsteps) or kutsuato (shoe marks) in some listings. They come in only one size, 70/100-8, for a standard 8-inch wheel like the ones on a Motocompo or Honda Monkey.
Often designs that are fun or cute, at least in the world of car customization, end up being Pep Boys cheesy. These somehow escape that fate. They are playful and entertaining, which is perfect for a motorcycle built specifically to fold into a suitcase-sized rectangle for stowing in a single model of small hatchback.
Oh, and the MB52 is super affordable, too. You can order one from Amazon Japan for less than twenty bucks. If I ever get a Motocompo, I’m definitely getting these tires.
Image: Inoue Rubber Company