When it comes to cycling, one of the most popular disciplines is road racing. It’s one of the most popular ways to ride a bike. A challenge many road cyclists face is knowing when it’s time to start swapping out their components, like tires.
There are generally few warning signs when it comes to road bike tires, and I have seen many people caught out and stranded on rides. In this article, we’re going to be discussing road bike tires and how long they last.
Many cyclists ask us how long road bike tires last and when they need replacing, so we’ll answer that for you!
What is a Road Bike Tire made of?
Firstly it’s important to understand what a road bike tire is made of. This can help you understand how they break down. Here’s what you need to know.
The first layer is the tread. This is what sits on the outside and gives you grip and protection.
Some tires will have groves making them better in poor conditions, and others will be slick. The thicker the tread, the longer the tire will last.
The casing is what sits under the tread and gives the tire the correct shape. This holds the inner tube in the correct place and ensures the tread doesn’t flex too much. The casing is typically made of Nylon or Polyester.
Then we have the bead. This is what holds the tire onto the wheel rim when the inner tube is pressurized.
It’s one of the most important parts and must be correct. These can often be made of Kevlar to ensure extra strength.
Although it’s separate from the tire, it plays an important part and sometimes can be a problem if not looked after correctly. They are generally made of butyl rubber.
How Do You Know When A Tire Is Done?
Knowing when a tire’s life is over can be challenging. Here are the signs you need to look out for;
Wear and Splits
If you examine the tire and it’s full of little slits, the tire is getting to the time it will require changing. Even worse, if you see the casing, then it might be a good idea to stop using the bike until they are replaced.
A lot Of Punctures
If you start getting lots of punctures, there’s either a problem with your rim or your tires need changing. Old tires get more punctures because they are older and brittle.
If you notice that the tire isn’t shaped properly or has any bulges, then it is time to swap that out.
If you notice a tire doesn’t grip as well or starts to feel laggy, the tires are starting to lose performance and will need changing sooner rather than later.
How Long Do Tires Generally Last?
Road bike tires do have the ability to last a long time or a short time. You can generally expect around 1000 to 3000 miles from a set of tires.
We appreciate that it’s quite vague, so here’s what makes the difference when it comes to tire life.
Terrain You Ride
If you ride on silky smooth roads, you can expect your tires to last much longer than riding rough roads. You would be surprised at how quickly a poor conditioned road can destroy a tire. Not just through multiple punctures but how quickly it wears down the tread.
If a tire is designed for racing, it will be super lightweight and give amazing grip, but typically won’t have a very long life.
This is because the compound of the tire will be thin to make it lightweight. A tire designed for commuting or winter will have a thicker compound and can last much longer.
Tires, over time, go brittle. You might cover 500 miles over five years, and the tire could need replacing. It doesn’t always come down to how many miles, but if you can use the miles up in time.
How Well They Are Looked After
If you look after your tires well, then they will look after you. Keeping the PSI at the right level, not storing the bike outside, and ensuring that you don’t take them off road often will really help prolong life.
Rider Weight and Load
The more load your tires have to deal with, the quicker they will wear out. It’s not rare for bikes that are carrying a heavier weight to get more punctures and wear down bike tires quicker than a bike with a lighter load.
Tips to get the most miles out of a set of tires
You can heavily extend the life of a set of tires when you know how. Here are our top tips to extend the life of a set;
Swap front to back
Typically on most bikes, the rear tire will wear quicker than the front. Swap the front tire with the back when you notice wear on the rear.
It will prolong your tire’s life, and you will get longer from them as a set.
Keep on the PSI
It’s important to use the correct PSI in a tire. This not only helps performance but also helps the tire’s longevity too.
Find the correct PSI you need with this tool Link and check regularly.
Use The Right High Quality Tires
You can expect many more happy miles if you use the correct tires for the job and go with a high-quality brand. When it comes to cycling, you get what you pay for, especially with tires.
Tires generally last between 1000 and 3000 miles. You can heavily extend the life of a set of tires by looking after them and using a high-quality brand. Thanks for taking the time to read our article.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.