Article By Vittoria: When to Change Bike Tyres - a Short Guide

Article By Vittoria: When to Change Bike Tyres - a Short Guide

Vittoria (Italy) - Although bicycle tyres do have an average lifespan, when to replace them depends on many factors. The average lifespan of a bicycle tyre, whether it is a road racing tyre or a mountain bike tyre, is 3,000-4,000 mileage. That said, there are signs of replacement that matter much more than the number of miles you ride such as no available tread, wear and tear, rubber cracks, sidewall cuts and low performance. Tyres are a crucial component of your bicycle as they considerably affect performance, safety, comfort as well as the overall riding experience. For instance, a worn tyre tread generates vibrations that affect the bicycle handling. If there is only a thin rubber layer left, the tyre is subject to frequent punctures. These are just some examples of tyre malfunction signs that cyclists must be attentive to.

Factors that impact how often to change bike tyres:

How many miles do road bike tyres last? When to change mountain bike tyres? To answer these questions, many different factors come into play such type of tyre, tyre quality, rider’s weight and riding style, type of pavement and maintenance.

  1. Type of tyre: road bike tyres are extremely different from mountain bike tyres. They are narrower, lighter, and they offer a smooth and fast ride. On the other hand, road bike tyres are less robust, their tread and casing are thinner, so even the smallest sharp object can be fatal. In contrast, mountain bike tyres are used in a variety of off-road terrain, which is less consistent compared to road surfaces, and also typically experience higher impact loads. The tyre construction also affects the frequency of replacement. Standard clincher tyres with inner tubes can be reused after a puncture; you only need to replace the tube inside the tyre. Unlike clinchers, if you get a flat on a tubeless tyre and the sealant could not repair it, the tyre must be replaced. Same thing with tubulars: once punctured, they cannot be reused.
  2. Tyre pressure: air pressure is another factor affecting the tyre durability. Using high pressures is very common for road bike tyres, as it enhances rolling and speed, but it also increases the risk of blow up when hitting potholes, curbs or other obstacles you may find in the road. Lower pressures are more common in mountain bike tyres, as they are designed for traction, and have a higher volume compared to road tyres. In both cases, using lower pressures makes the ride smoother, especially in turns, over obstacles and over off-road surfaces. However, riding underinflated tyres is not recommended, as they will be more likely to experience a pinch-type flat, and loss of control.
  3. Riding style: the more you gain trust of your bicycle, the more you may want to experiment new riding styles, or even tricks, wheelies, skidding, screeches etc. The way you brake, and turn, has a direct impact on the tyre tread consumption. A more fluid, smoother riding style will make your tyres last longer.
  4. Where you ride: bicycle tyres lifespan also depends on where you ride. Considering road cycling, riding mostly on smooth pavements and on roads in good condition will increase the tyre lifespan, while gravel, and rough asphalt will wear out the tread faster. In mountain biking, if you mostly deal with rocky trails, you are more likely to get your tyres damaged by the sharp edges of the rocks. The knobs on the tread are also more likely to tear apart. On the other hand, trails with longer hardpack sections are less aggressive towards your tyres. Also, the average elevation gain of the trails you ride can impact tyre consumption. When riding both uphill and downhill, tyres are more stressed and wear faster.
  5. Maintenance: a properly maintained tyre will last longer. Good tyre maintenance involves paying attention to the tyre pressure, and keeping the tyres inflated even when the bicycle is not in use. When using tubeless tyres, it is important to check if there is leakage of sealant of any kind. After your rides, it is good practice to check if any debris, or little pieces of glass, are stuck in the tyre tread and remove them. Failure to properly maintain your tyres will lead to unexpected flats or low performances.

Signs the tyre need replacement:

How often change bike tyresYou should think about replacing the tyres not before you have ridden more than 2,000 miles or have noticed any of the following signs:

  • Tread wear indicator: Many bicycle tyres, such as Corsa N.EXT, feature a small groove or dimple in the tread (commonly referred as TWI – Tread Wear Indicator) that, once it is not visible anymore, indicates the tread is worn and the tyre should be replaced.
  • Vibrations: If you notice strong vibrations when riding on smooth paved roads, consider it as an indication that the tyre tread is probably worn.
  • Uneven wear: If you notice the tyre tread wear is not even, and there are sections of the tyre much more worn than others, you should consider replacing it. Isolated cracks and wrinkles or even bubbles on the tread are also an indication that the tyre is not in good shape.
  • Worn out knobs: Mountain bike tyres knobs will wear out, or even tear apart, over time. If you cannot recognize the original design of the tread profile, it is an indicator that the tyre should be replaced. With damaged knobs, the tyre cannot deliver the same level of performance it was used to.
  • Constant flats: If you continue getting flats, check if there are holes, worn sections and make sure the tyre properly sits on the rim. 

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