How important are tyres? They were certainly important to the PR man from Rover back in the 1990s when he discovered that I had taken the wheels off his press car to clean them and then accidentally put them onto my now-ex-wife’s Metro. In fact, he was unreasonably cross about this. Just 12 years later the company went bust, thus showing the folly of such pedantry.
The truth is, tyres are tremendously important. It’s why I didn’t want my now-ex-wife driving around in her Metro when I noticed its original tyres were practically bald because back then I still liked her. It’s also why inadequate tyres can cause your car to fail its MOT, even if you give the tester a branded Jeep pen and a Citroen Xsara Picasso mid-life facelift fleece.
However, if you think tyres are important on cars, that’s nothing to how important they are on lorries and coaches. Think about it. Lorries and coaches weight a lot and can contain many important things. To ignore the benefits of good tyres is to be, as a Rover PR man once said to me, ‘a bloody unbelievable idiot.’
That’s why I was delighted to accept an invitation from Hangwangbong, China’s fourth largest manufacturer of coach and lorry tyres, to learn more about their products. Our destination for this fascinating symposium was the Woodshore test track in Warwickshire where the invitation said we would be given a demonstration of the company’s products and then lunch.
My progress to the event was rather impaired by the non-arrival of my latest press car. It turns out the Hyundai press office had withdrawn the promised i40 and do not look kindly on people who attempt to make bookings using false names, readership figures and number of driving bans.
Instead, I was forced to leave Over The Limit with Roy Lanchester Towers in Harrogate on foot, get a train to Leeds and then another to Birmingham from where a Hangwangbong representative kindly collected me in a Chinese-made Proud Lady minicoach wearing guess what make of tyres! That’s right, I think it was Hangwangbong although I forgot to look. In truth, I was a little weary upon my arrival in the Midlands having refreshed myself with great success on the train using all the miniature bottles of red I had liberated from the Yung Bu shock absorbers event last week.
Upon arriving at the Woodshore visitors’ centre, we were given a presentation by their head of technologies, Mr Wu. This was fascinating and excellent, giving a real insight into how much effort Hangwangbong puts into its excellent and class leading tyres. When I awoke it was time to venture out onto the test track itself and see how a lorry and a coach coped in a variety of simulated conditions whilst wearing the very latest of the company’s excellent products.
At the risk of sounding like a copy and pasted press pack, Hangwangbong strives for excellence in the design and manufacture of a range of tyres for all sizes and weights of commercial vehicles and promises optimum endurance, grip and value in all market segments page 3 please turn over.
After the demonstration, we retired back to the visitors’ centre for the promised lunch which was an adequate buffet, although I found the salmon a little tasteless. I have heard much about how the Chinese wine industry is improving and hoped to sample some of these products. Sadly, the wine on offer turned out to be Australian but it seemed rude not to try it, especially as no one else was bothering with their share.
We were then given an informal opportunity to question Mr Wu and his colleagues about their company and its excellent tyres. From this, I learned that Hangwangbong hopes to make more excellent tyres. I also learned that Mr Wu is the kind of man who remains unamused by my affectionate portrayal of his countrymen and eventually gets one of his henchmen to ask me to leave.
So, the next time you’re on the motorway behind a coach or lorry, just think about its tyres for a moment. Perhaps those tyres could be excellent tyres made by Hangwangbong tyres! Just don’t shout ‘ahhhh-so’ at them and then pretend to do a karate chop!
Roy Lanchester is motoring correspondent for North Yorkshire Style, a quarterly free magazine distributed to over 4000 homes in North Yorkshire, and founder of Over The Limit with Roy Lanchester, a blog that takes a sideways glance at the world of motoring.