CARLISLE, PA -- The last American-made bicycle tire rolled off the production line Friday at Carlisle Tire & Rubber Co., a former world giant no longer able to compete with overseas manufacturers of lower-priced tires.

After making about 117 million bicycle tires during nearly four decades, the company shut down the production line with the removal of the final two tires from factory presses. About 70 employes witnessed the solemn occasion.

"I'm a little sad. This is my job," said supervisor Joe Rice, who has been on the tire-production line since 1971 and now will be reassigned within the company.

In its failed effort to remain in the bicycle tire business, the company invested millions of dollars in new equipment and launched an advertising campaign aimed at patriotic consumers, company President Jack Hollis said.

"Unfortunately, very few people buy products {solely} because they're made in America," he said.

The nation's big-name manufacturers of tires got out of the bicycle tire business in the 1970s, he said.

Mike Kershow, a spokesman for the Bicycle Manufacturers Association of America, which is based in Washington, D.C., confirmed that Carlisle Tire & Rubber was the nation's last producer of bike tires.

"Actually there's very little on a bicycle today that is made in America and actually very few bicycles made in America," the spokesman for the trade group said. Cheaper labor is "probably the simplest answer" to why U.S. companies cannot compete with manufacturers of bicycles and bike parts in other countries, chiefly Japan, Taiwan and Korea, Kershow said.