How Long Do Bike Tires Last? – The Ultimate Guide

Zoom on a mountain bike tire
How long do bike tires last?

On average, we can say that standard bicycle tires have a life expectancy of 1,200 to 3,000 miles. But it is not easy to determine the wear of the tires according to the mileage.

Being a bike fan, I have done a lot of research for you and share with you my experience on tire wear, how to identify it, how long do bike tires last, how to make them last longer and change them at the right time.

Let’s get started.

How to Determine the Wear of Your Bicycle Tires?

Among the many criteria to know about tires, it is important to know when a tire is worn. Indeed, a damaged bicycle tire causes a loss of grip and increases the risk of a puncture. It is therefore essential to spot tire defects at the right time and change it for a new one. This will ensure that you always ride safely and with optimum comfort. As a rule, bicycle tire wear is easy to determine. Here I explain when it is considered necessary to change a tire. The deterioration and mileage of your bicycle tires will serve as a guide.

Identifying Bike Tire Wear: What is the condition of my tire?

You should know beforehand that a road or city tire with a “worn profile” can still be used. Despite a less resistant tread, the bike can still ride and brake properly. This is not the case with mountain bike tires, which absolutely need their studs for grip. However, when a tire is “completely worn out”, it must be replaced. To determine the wear, you must look at the overall condition of the tire.

The deterioration of a bicycle tire occurs at different levels. First, there is the tread in the center of the tire. This is a surface that is constantly under stress and therefore inevitably gets damaged. You can also observe tears or deterioration in the sidewalls. The tire can also become brittle from too much exposure to the sun and become dry. Let’s take a closer look at each of these wear criteria.

Worn Tread: Is My Tire Fit to Drive?

Causes of tread wear

The tread is the part of the bike that is in constant contact with the ground. It is subject to stresses that tend to damage it more and more over time. Many forces are exerted on it, such as the rider’s weight, friction due to braking and uneven terrain.

How to spot a worn tread on road and city bikes?

A worn tread can be identified by the colored protective strip underneath it. In this case, it is recommended to change the tire immediately. The color blue is often used on this underlayer to make it easier to spot wear. Beware, this underlay is not at all resistant to rolling on the ground. Indeed, it is essentially the thickness of the tread that resists punctures.

On city tires, before the protective underlay appears, you first have the tire patterns fading away. So when the small grooves start to disappear, it’s a sign that the tire is starting to wear. You can continue to ride, although grip may be compromised.

On road bikes that have a smooth tread pattern, manufacturers help you assess the wear of road tires with markers. You may see a small hole on the new tire, and then when the tire is too worn the hole disappears. It is then time to change the worn tire.

Spotting MTB Tire Wear: Stud Deterioration

Zoom on mountain bike tire studs

The wear of mountain bike tires can be seen in the condition of their studs. In this practice, studs are essential to ensure grip and rolling on uneven terrain. A damaged mountain bike tire is therefore more dangerous because it is more slippery and less efficient when braking. It is also less comfortable for the rider because it absorbs less shock.

On the tread, wear gradually causes the central studs to disappear. On the sides, it is the side studs that suffer and can be torn off. When the studs are no longer protruding and are too flattened, the tires must be changed. With new tires you will immediately feel the difference and regain the grip you need for mountain biking.

The deterioration of a tubeless tire can be slower than a tubetype tire. Indeed, the tubeless tire is known for its anti-puncture properties and its life span is longer thanks to the preventive fluid. It therefore has a greater resistance to punctures and an increased longevity. The wear of a tubeless tire, whether it is the studs or the tread, can be seen in the same way as a tire with an inner tube. For better resistance in any ground, we advise you to convert to tubeless.

What Types of Wear are There on Bike Tires?

Do I have to change a torn or cracked bicycle tire?

Zoom on road bike cracked tire

If you are dealing with a torn tire, it is strongly recommended to change the tire. Such tire damage is often the result of an impact or an accident. Also, if you can see the inner tube through the torn or split tire, it is highly recommended to replace it. In this case, the likelihood of a puncture is maximum: even a “high-performance” inner tube cannot withstand contact with the ground.

Deteriorated tire sidewalls on my bike

Less noticeable, the sidewalls of bicycle tires can often become unserviceable before the tread. Why is this? In most cases, it is because the tire pressure is too low, which causes this premature deterioration. To counter this risk, it is important to check the tire pressure at least once a month with a pressure gauge.

Dry bicycle tires due to long exposure to the sun

Tires become dry especially when they are exposed to the open air and the bike is parked outside. Even though this represents a moderate risk of puncture, the tire needs to be changed. How do you know if your tire is dry? Rub the bottom part of the tire (often beige) with your finger. If it crumbles, it means the tire is worn.

How do I check the mileage of a tire?

The number of miles a tire can travel depends on several criteria, including the tire model. In fact, when I talk about mileage, I mean:

  • the tire pressure
  • the total load carried by the bicycle
  • the condition of the roads
  • the ambient temperature
  • and the way of riding or “riding style”.

Thus, bicycle tires used at high temperatures, under heavy loads, and on rough roads wear out much faster.

Since it is difficult to know exactly how long a road bike or mountain bike tire will last, rather than answering the question: How long do bicycle tires last? The best thing to do is to do everything possible to keep them as short as possible and to maintain them as well as possible.

How to keep your bicycle tires in good condition?

To extend the life of your tires, take care of them! To avoid the phenomenon of dry tires and deterioration of the sidewalls, make sure you don’t leave your bike in the sun too long. Prefer to park indoors, with the tires always inflated to the right pressure. Also, always watch out for under-inflation, which is one of the main causes of tire deterioration and punctures.

In the city, choose a smooth ride. Powerful and repeated braking is particularly damaging to the tire and wears it out prematurely.

After a trip, remember to clean your tires with a water jet and check if a foreign body has not remained stuck to the tire. To do this, slowly rotate the wheel and remove any foreign objects from the tire.

How much do new bike tires cost?

The price range is wide. First of all, you have to differentiate between road bikes and mountain bikes, and among the categories there is an important granularity: tire type, diameter, studs…

To give you a range (some models can be out of it, especially high-end tires) :

  • A road bike tire will cost between 20 and 45$.
  • A mountain bike tire will cost between 20 and 65$.

Of course, you will see some people putting huge amounts of money into their fresh tire, keep in mind that everything is to be matched with its use and its need. If you have any doubt, ask your bike shop.

Should I replace both bicycle tires?

Luckily, no.

The wear of the tires is not the same on your bike, indeed, the rear wheel is much more solicited, so the rear tire. It is more likely to wear quickly because of the distribution of weight which is more important at the rear, thus on your rear tire. It is therefore possible for you to change the tire one by one depending on the deterioration of each one.

How to change a bike tire?

Here is a good video explaining how to change the tire on your bike:

In summary

To keep a tire in good condition, it is essential to choose the right tire when you buy it. The tire must be adapted to the practice, the weight of the cyclist, the type of terrain and the climate. Now, you have an idea on how many years do bike tires last!

Read our other maintenance tips, here on the chain of your bike!

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