Bicycle tires should be changed when the tire wears out or otherwise becomes damaged, such that its integrity is compromised. Due to variations in environmental conditions, rubber compounds, individual weight/riding style and other such matters, it is impossible to give a very precise answer to this question. However, if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, chances are good that you should replace your tires:
- Can you see “threads” in any of the tread’s contact surfaces? Bicycle tires are generally made with layers of fabric and rubber, not unlike the “steel belts” in an automotive tire. If these become visible, your tread is too thin and the tire should be replaced.
- Do you have any visible holes, gashes, “bubbles” or cracks in the tire or its sidewalls? With age, use and exposure to debris, our tires become damaged. Defects can create weak spots which will pre-dispose the tire to failure.
- Are your tires flatting more frequently than usual? Flatting results from a combination of tread integrity/depth and environmental conditions. When one’s tires wear thin, they are more prone to flatting.
- Is there a wear indicator to suggest it’s time to replace the tire? Some, though not all, bicycle tires have “wear indicators” to alert the rider to the need for replacement. This may come in the form of a different color of rubber at a preset depth within the tread which becomes visible, or there may be grooves or dimples to indicate when the tire needs replacement.
It is important to remember that when it comes to maintaining your equipment and protecting your personal safety, do not skimp! If you have any doubt over the condition of your bike or your equipment, go to your local bike shop and have it inspected by a professional mechanic!