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How Often Should I Change Bike Tires?

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KEY
POINTS

  • The general rule is to change your tires every 2,000 – 3,000 miles.
  • That could be impacted by your riding style, road conditions, and your weight.
  • If your tires have no tread left or some cuts on sidewalls, change them immediately.

It’s a good thing Clement Ader invented “rubberized wheels” in 1868, notes Bart the Bike Guy. Had he not pursued his brilliant idea, you might be hitting the streets or trails riding bone-shakers, wood wheels fitted with iron bands that lived up to their name. 

John Boyd Dunlop stole the limelight from Ader 19 years later when he invented the first air-filled tire, and Edouard Michelin’s first detachable tire debuted in 1891. Within just 23 years, everything about bike tires changed dramatically, so next time you ride, a little appreciation for these three guys, please!


How often should I change bike tires

But let’s get straight into the question. Here is what I found:

The general rule is to change your tires every 2,000 – 3,000 miles. But that rule goes out the window if you notice or experience the following: 1) an excessive number of flats, 2) no tread left on your tires, and 3) some cuts on sidewalls or tread. 

Related: Best CO2 Tire Inflators


Factors that can impact the life of your bicycle tires 

1. Your riding style. 

What’s your bike riding style? Experts at BikeRiding.com list 16 of them, and while the most extreme of the bunch include “bicycle night riding” and “nude riding,” there are probably categories that more closely fit your lifestyle.

Every type of riding style contributes to unique wear patterns on tires that have the potential to end the life of your tires sooner than the time the advertising material on the brand you chose suggests. ( SOURCE )

2. Road conditions.

Attorneys at NOLO.com know more than the average cyclist about accidents because they advise clients who have been involved in all sorts of them.

Photo by Matthew Pablico on Unsplash

Among the road condition factors these lawyers have identified as being most likely to cause tire blows are potholes, sewer grates, railroad tracks, and roadways that have been neglected by “state, county, city, or other public agency that maintains the roadway.”

Factor in weather and road conditions and the life of your bike’s tires could be shortened in myriad ways. 

3. Your weight.

Marley Blonsky makes no excuses about her weight, and since she rides with other heavy women who also understand that one’s weight can make a difference in the way bike tires perform, she’s unapologetic. “I am a fat woman who loves bikes,” she says, understanding that her weight can impact tire wear and longevity.

Read more: 11 Best Bikes for Heavy Riders

She recommends doing extensive research before overweight riders choose tires and warns that you’ll have to do this on your own because “many bike shop employees are not experienced at working with bigger people.” 

Read more: 8 Best Electric Bikes for Heavy Riders

4. Type of tires you choose. 

The type of tire you put on your bike matters writes Chris Merritt for the website Outdoor Inquirer. In his experience, a high-end tire should, barring damage, last up to 2,500 miles.

His research on the subject concludes that tires mounted on road bikes and hybrids should last between 1,000 and 3,000 miles. At the extreme, high-speed/high-performance tires are likely to need replacing at around 1,000 miles, while the toughest and most expensive touring bike tires could stick around up to 4,000 miles if given plenty of TLC.

5. Care and feeding.

There are steps you can take to get your bike tires to the maximum mileage that the manufacturer estimates, minus any untoward circumstances that damage them. If you clean your tires after every adventure to remove soil, debris, and dirt that clings to tires, your tires and wallet will benefit. Becoming an expert detective can help too.

Close, frequent inspections of both of your tires can unearth cuts, embedded wires, and other suspicious materials that could cause your wheels to let you down when you least expect it. 


Signs that it’s time to replace your bike tires 

 1. You spot telltale cracks along the sidewall of your road or mountain bike. 

 2. You notice uneven tread wear causing smooth or bald bands on tire sides while center tread remains good.

 3. You get more flats than salary bumps. Repeat flats usually indicate a thin tread that allows for tube punctures. 

 4. Uniform tread wear. This can go unnoticed because it tends to be a gradual process. 

 5. Squaring off. Sides knobs on rear mountain bike tires look fine, but centers are smooth due to the extra weight they have been carrying.

 6. Exposed casing. Look for series of diagonal threads that indicate deterioration indicating replacement. 

 7. Bulges and bubbles. These telltale signs can inform you that your tire could burst at any time, so don’t ignore them. 

 8. Mileage anniversaries. Keeping track of miles to which tires are subjected from the day you mount them, so you know when retirement time is approaching. 

 9. Age attrition. Rubber can harden over time, even if a bike isn’t ridden. Blowouts are common on aged tires.

 10. Ride quality. Skilled cyclists attuned to “the feel of their bike” get early indicators that something isn’t right about tire performance. Don’t ignore these signals. 


How long can a bicycle tire be stored? 

Proper bike storage is the only way to ensure against tire degradation that can result when a tire sits idle, either on or off the bike, say experts at Treadbikely.com. In concert with the time factor, these naturally occurring conditions often impact tire conditions, causing stiffness, brittleness, and cracks due to rubber oxidation:

  •  Ultraviolet radiation due to sunlight exposure; 
  •  Temperature extremes that cause the rubber to expand and contract; 
  •  Stealthy ozone exposure from electrical sources like switches, sump pumps, furnaces, and UV radiation.

While there is no “one size fits all” answer to the length of time a tire can be stored, the Thread Bikely folks say that tires kept in the dark, dry environments can lessen the impact that age and miles traveled have contributed to the tire’s life.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to store your tires for years. Wolf Vormwalde of Specialized Bicycle claims that these companies’ tires are “safe to use for up to six years after manufacturing.”


List of the 40 best bike tires

According to Road.cc, the following 40 tire brands, and models have been rated “the best of the best” for 2020. Included on this list are brand names that are the acknowledged industry leaders worldwide, so when you shop for new tires for your bike, you can feel confident that you are getting a quality product.

We alphabetized this list, so it doesn’t look like we’re playing favorites. 

  • Bontrager AW3 Hard-Case Lite
  • Bontrager R4 Classics Hard-Case Lite
  • Bontrager R3 Hard-Case Lite 700C 32mm
  • Challenge Strada Pro HTLR 25mm
  • Challenge Strada Pro Open Tubular
  • Challenge Strada Bianca 700C 30mm
  • Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL
  • Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 28mm
  • Continental Grand Prix 4 Season
  • Donnelly X’Plor MSO
  • Donnelly LCV
  • IRC Formula RBCC 
  • Hutchinson Fusion 5 11 Storm Tubeless Performance
  • Mavic Yksion Pro Road UST
  • Michelin Power Road
  • Michelin Power Road Tubeless
  • Michelin Power Gravel
  • Michelin Protek Urban
  • Michelin Power All Season
  • Panaracer GravelKing Slick Tread 38
  • Panaracer GravelKing Plus TLC 700 x 35
  • Panaracer GravelKing 32
  • Panaracer GravelKing SK
  • Pirelli P Zero Velo
  • Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass TC
  • Rene Herse Switchback Hill Extralight TC 650B x 48mm
  • Schwalbe Pro One
  • Schwalbe G-One Speed MicroSkin TL-Easy 650B
  • Schwalbe G-One
  • Schwalbe One V-Guard 
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus
  • Specialized Turbo Cotton
  • Specialized S-Works Turbo
  • Vee Tire Co Road Runner
  • Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme 28mm
  • Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ Isotech
  • Vittoria Corsa Control G+ Isotech
  • Vittoria Pave CG Open Clincher
  • WTB Horizon TCS 650B
  • Zipp Tangente Speed

Can your old bike tires serve a useful purpose?

The answer is yes, says David Fiedler, who posted his ecological message on the Live About website. If you’re concerned about the environment and your local recycling entity won’t take your old tires, you still have other options. 

Read more: How to Remove Rust From Your Bike and Keep it Off

One smart recycler converted his retired tires to tire liners by cutting off the bead (stiff edge) and side casing. He put what remained of the old tire into a new one, inserted a new tube, and inflated it until the old rubber pressed against the new one’s interior.

Both rubber layers protect the tube from being penetrated by road refuse that’s sharp. 

Cut old tubes into lengths and use the sections in place of bungee cords. Hang potted plants, stake saplings, or wrap them around rough bike rack edges to protect the paint on your frame. Here are additional inspirations.

Charities like the Boise Bicycle Project will patch up old tubes to be used by impoverished people who can’t afford new ones, or you can search for a bike shop connected to a nonprofit dedicated to keeping rubber out of landfills.

One St. Louis bicycle shop partnership has found new uses for around 3 tons of tires and tubes, creating jobs for people with special needs while ensuring that the raw materials continue to be put to good use.

Read more:

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.

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