Home » This Ingenious ‘Tire Within A Tire’ Could Save Your RV From A Violent Blowout

This Ingenious ‘Tire Within A Tire’ Could Save Your RV From A Violent Blowout

Tiretire

Tire blowouts have long been one of the worst nightmares of a motorhome operator. If you blow a steer tire—the ones up front, doing the actual steering—on an RV, the aftermath can be dramatic, with your mangled tire and wheel suddenly yanking the rig off of the road. This can be deadly, but one company believes that it doesn’t have to be.

The 2023 Florida RV SuperShow isn’t just for camper manufacturers to show off the best that they have, but also for suppliers to display their latest tech. Many of the suppliers in the event’s two stadiums offer stuff like e-bikes, wooden plaques, and massage chairs that look like adult-size baby car seats. Some have more practical stuff like solar panels and water purifiers. One person is even selling lipstick made to match your RV’s paint job. My favorite piece of RV tech at the show thus far is one that doesn’t make you match your camper, but one that could save your life.

Tire Blowouts Are Rare But Dangerous

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Michelin

Sometimes a tire can blow because of neglect or overloading. Sometimes a tire can blow because you hit debris. And sometimes, a tire can blow because the tire fitted to your camper wasn’t actually made for the job. Either way, it’s a scary reality and the aftermath can be deadly.

While a statistic isn’t available for RVs, a 2007 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration looked at 141,000 large trucks (straight trucks, semis, etc) that were involved in crashes. Tire problems were linked to the crashes involving 8,000 of those trucks, or six percent. This is to say that while tire blowouts are rare with proper care and maintenance, they can happen. For an example relating to RVs, the infamous recalled Goodyear G159 tire is reportedly linked to 95 known deaths and injuries.

Steer tire blowouts are a big deal because things can go south fast. If your steer blows, the RV may pull hard toward the dying tire, threatening to send you off the road. In a panic, you may think to stomp on the brakes and get your rig to a quick stop, but truckers, as well as tire manufacturer Michelin, say that is the exact wrong thing to do.

Both say that by hitting your brakes, you’re only putting more weight on the blown tire, making the pull from the tire worse, and you may find yourself losing control of your RV or semi. Instead, when your steer blows, your first reaction should be to put the pedal to the floor, which should help reduce the pull because of the blown tire.

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Mercedes Streeter

However, all of this has to happen quickly, and you have to remember to do it in a panic. Even pilots sometimes forget their training when they’re faced with an emergency. For Brett Davis, owner of National Indoor RV Center (NIRVC), the severity of a tire blowout is worth having some backup. Davis met up with Robert Craig, the founder of Craig International Ballistics, a supplier of armor to the Australian military. The pair decided to develop a kind of run-flat tire that would help give Class A and Class B RV owners peace of mind.

This concept isn’t new. Tyron USA has long offered a device that supports a tire after a blowout, aiding in control with the goal of preventing a crash.

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Tyron USA

The Tyron design calls for a band that’s mounted to the inside of a wheel. When the tire blows, the Tyron bands try to prevent the tire bead from collapsing. Rettroband even has direct competition with the similar RV Safety Band and Spartan RV Chassis with its Red Diamond RunFlat. These remind me of a ring-type run flat device for cars, but scaled up and able to support the weight of a coach.

How It Works

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Mercedes Streeter

The Rettroband is also a product that locks onto your wheel, but the way it works is different from the Tyron. Each Rettroband is made from two bands of hardened rubber. The thick rubber is reinforced with stainless steel that runs the entire length of each band.

Each band also gets metal pins that go through the rubber and the stainless steel core. There are four pins in all and threaded bolts are used in conjunction with gearboxes to join the Rettroband halves together.

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Mercedes Streeter

Davis says that design, engineering, and testing took 3.5 years. Testing not only involved bench testing Rettrobands to see when they would fail but also involved intentionally blowing up steer tires on loaded RVs equipped with the product.

Installation is done at NIRVC locations and third-party installers, where technicians first dismount the steer tire, then feed the Rettroband through. The threaded bolts are then tightened until the band halves come together. After that, the tire is inflated and balanced as usual.

In the event of a tire blowout, Davis says that the Rettroband will do two things. First, and perhaps most importantly, the RV will lower onto the Rettroband, using it as an emergency spare tire. The Rettroband has a larger diameter than the wheel, thus when the coach is riding on the product, the wheel is not digging into the ground.

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Mercedes Streeter

Next, the Rettroband is also helping to keep the tire intact for as long as possible. The goal of the Rettroband is not just to reduce the jerking motion caused by a tire blowout, but to allow the operator of a coach to limp their rig to the safest place to pull over.

This is a product that actually exists and can be purchased. Davis and Craig even hopped into an RV with a tire rigged to blow up just to show that it works. Perhaps the coolest thing about this is that Rettrobands are already in the hands of RV owners and are already getting used in real-life situations. Davis says that dozens of customers have already experienced blowouts where their Rettrobands did their job.

Sure enough, when I search RV forums there are perhaps countless RV owners who swear by this particular product. I got to see it with my own eyes at the Florida RV SuperShow. While there, I found a few more Class A owners that say that they have this product. None of the people I talked to had to use their Rettrobands yet, and they hope they never have to. However, they hope that these will save them from repeating their previous nightmare experiences of keeping a rig on the road post-blowout.

What you’re looking at here is the second version of the Rettroband. The first version was made out of yellow polyurethane (below) and it was discovered to have a flaw that allowed an installer to over-torque the bolt and gearbox setup.

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Rettroband

Allegedly, third-party installers used impacts and zipped on the bolts so tight that they damaged the Rettrobands. Apparently, NIRVC’s own installers also over-torqued the bolts. As a result, the polyurethane cracked. A number of customers reported Rettrobands self-destructing inside of their tires without a blowout even occurring. The company voluntarily recalled the product and replaced them with the rubber and stainless steel version.

Limitations

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Mercedes Streeter

Alright, so you’re probably thinking that there’s a catch. Unfortunately, there are a few.

Perhaps the biggest is that Rettrobands are currently only for 22.5-inch wheels. That means if you have a smaller rig, you are for now out of luck. NIRVC has also imposed a restriction on tire age. The company has found that older tires can get damaged during the Rettroband installation process, thus necessitating their replacement. Thus, NIRVC only works with tires three years old and newer. The company will also install Rettrobands on wheels with tires older than three years, but younger than four years on a case-by-case basis. NIRVC is also the sole distributor and it has relatively few locations, so don’t expect your local RV dealer to be able to sell you Rettrobands.

That brings us to the next point, and that’s cost. Rettrobands up to a 305 tire width cost $3,595. Moving up to a 315-width tire will cost you $4,595, while a Rettroband fitting a 365 sets you back $4,695. You could replace a pair of steer tires multiple times and still be under a Rettroband’s cost. Some see the money as insurance against an RVer’s nightmare. There is some good news, too, as the installation is free, as are replacement Rettrobands following a blowout. The company wants used Rettrobands back so they could be tested by a lab.

I will reiterate here that tire blowouts are not something that you should expect from RV ownership. Plenty of folks travel tens of thousands of miles or more without ever having a blowout. And sometimes, blowouts don’t cause the catastrophes that you can see on YouTube. Still, I like that something like this does exist.

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32 Responses

    1. After a quick Google search this is not new at all and is just how a lot of runflats work. (Like armored vehicles or even a lot of passenger cars). According to wikipedia this basic idea has been around for like 90 years.

  1. All the more reason we need airless tires.

    When the time comes that they’re street legal I’ll buy a set for my truck immediately. I just hope they’ll make a set of snow airless tires.

    1. I was waiting to see this comment. There are a *lot* of service members who are emotionally scarred from wrestling those things.

      My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think there were two kinds: a one-piece rubber design, and a two-piece metal one. I’ve only had the misfortune of wrangling the rubber one. We had to use a 5000-pound ratchet strap to fold the thing over so we could get it inside the tire, then use lots of pry nars and profanity to get the assembly onto the rim. (This was in Iraq immediately after the invasion, before I ever heard the term “FOB”. We didn’t have any facilities, or really even much in the way of tools.)

  2. I’m curious how this affects the ride and handling. Handling probably wasn’t great to begin with on a class A, but a smooth ride is pretty important to motorhome owners AIUI. That’s a lot of unsprung weight, lost air volume, and lost potential compliance in the tire. I guess it’s a tradeoff for blowout protection? Would be interesting to do a back-to-back road test with and without these inserts.

  3. This may be weird and off topic; how about a Drogue chute to slow her down?
    Deploy it with an explosive charge.
    A reverse air bag for yer bus at highway speeds.
    Good for tailgaters as an added bonus. (-;

    1. I bet it would be exciting being in the car behind the RV that deploys it’s drogue chute…

      And if it was tailgating, it might get taken along for a ride!

  4. For more effective marketing of their product, they could put pictures of them on t-shirts. Then it would be a tire in a tire, on attire.

    Sorry, I’ll see myself out.

  5. This is similar to Honda’s PAX system, right? That didn’t go well. I can’t remember the intracacies of the downfall of it, but I know it wasn’t pretty for Oddyssey owners.

  6. I was waiting to see this comment. There are a *lot* of service members who are emotionally scarred from wrestling those things.

    My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I think there were two kinds: a one-piece rubber design, and a two-piece metal one. I’ve only had the misfortune of wrangling the rubber one. We had to use a 5000-pound ratchet strap to fold the thing over so we could get it inside the tire, then use lots of pry nars and profanity to get the assembly onto the rim. (This was in Iraq immediately after the invasion, before I ever heard the term “FOB”. We didn’t have any facilities, or really even much in the way of tools.)

    1. Best guess is like Retrrobands, they get bolted onto the wheel with the tire partially dismounted since I don’t think you can mount a tire over the insert

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