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Worn vs worn out, when to change tires?

Old 07-21-19, 10:21 AM
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Lucillle
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Worn vs worn out, when to change tires?

A recent bike was purchased with worn tires but still have tire pattern and work fine. How does one tell when it is time to change, or should I just put new ones on now?
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Old 07-21-19, 11:11 AM
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Inspect them closely when fully inflated for dry cracks or anything else that doesn’t look normal. If a tire passes a close visual inspection you should be good to go
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Old 07-21-19, 11:28 AM
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You can ride them until the casing material is exposed. When the tread is worn down you'll lose puncture protection and maybe lose traction, but given that it is still safe to ride.
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Old 07-21-19, 11:47 AM
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Lucillle
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Thank you. I bought new tires just in case, but it sounds like these should be fine for now.
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Old 07-21-19, 01:26 PM
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Minor surface checking/cracking of the rubber is inconsequential as long as the fabric cords, which give the tire its structural integrity, are not exposed. Same with wear on the tread; when you start seeing the cords or their pattern through the remaining rubber it is replacement time, as tyrion states.
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Old 07-21-19, 01:41 PM
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For me, it depends on what's coming up on my riding schedule. If just a normal ride for me, I'm more curious about the "how far will they go" instead of worried about flatting. If a Century ride or other organized ride is coming up or if I were to be going off to areas I'm not familiar with, then I want decent tires under me and will change them before the casing is showing.

I've ridden tires with the casing showing through many a time. I've not had any wreck or scare when they finally ripped apart. However if I was riding mountain switchbacks, it might be a bad experience.
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Old 07-21-19, 02:07 PM
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I ride mine until they fail. I carry boots so I can limp home. I don't recommend my practice.
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Old 07-21-19, 02:13 PM
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1. Casing shows through tread
2. Casing threads are fraying in the sidewalls
3. Bead is separating from casing.
4. Lots of tiny cuts or gashes in the rubber.
5. For a used bike, rubber is cracked where the tire has been parked while flat for a long time.
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Old 07-22-19, 07:32 AM
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When I start getting punctures more frequently it's my tires telling me it's time to re-tire.
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Old 07-22-19, 10:07 AM
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There is aging, there is wear, and there is failure. The check for cracking and such above is for aging. These checks are all good.

Failure is where the fabric has ripped or been cut and you a blowout or a bulge.

The wear threshold is when you have a wide flat part of the rear tire, and in that flat spot you can see the tire fabric. If your tires don't have cracks or anything, you can replace a worn rear with a semi-worn front (The rear tire will wear down faster) so that you get all the tread you paid for. Then put your new tire on the front.

BTW, DO NOT "ROTATE" TIRES. That is, never just take the worn rear tire and swap it out with the front tire to equalize tread wear. Wear the back one out, put the semi-worn front on the back and put your good tire on the front. Or, replace both if you like. Remember: Always have your best tire on the front wheel.

For a bit of background on that last point (unfortunately described as tire rotation), read here: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-rotation.html

Last edited by WizardOfBoz; 07-22-19 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 07-22-19, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Lucillle View Post
A recent bike was purchased with worn tires but still have tire pattern and work fine. How does one tell when it is time to change, or should I just put new ones on now?
Replace the rear tire with the front when you see fabric/cords, a bulge where cords broke, a hole large enough to let the tube escape, or sidewall damage. You may also replace it when you're running a tire which relies on rubber thickness for puncture protection and the flat rate has become unacceptable. Tread doesn't matter for onroad traction.

Replace the front when you move it to the back or have irreparable damage.


I get about 4,500 miles in back from my GP4000S/SII tires after similar mileage in front but occasionally lose one due to road debris before that. Here's one GP4000S with 5257 rear miles after 1037 in front:
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Old 07-23-19, 07:34 AM
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As above, if the casing/cords are starting to show though, the tire is finished. A bulge in the tire also usually indicates damaged tire casing and it should be replaced. Also if you notice increased frequency of punctures, your tire has likely thinned enough that it should be replaced.

Also as above, if replacing with similar sized tires (not changing from 40mm width to 28mm width, for instance), general orthodoxy is to replace the worn rear tire with the much less worm front tire, and put a new tire on the front. The logic behind this is that a more worn tire is likely more prone to punctures, and punctures on the front tire often have the potential to be more catastrophic than punctures on the rear.
If you are making a big change in tire size then I think you should change both at the same time.
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