When To Replace Your MTB Tyres
Author: Andrew Schneider Date Posted:10 June 2017
Deciding when to replace your MTB tyres can be a difficult decision! Like most of us, you're probably wondering how much more life you can squeeze out of your current tyres before you have to pull the trigger and drop some cash for a fresh set of shoes.
There are a few things that can help make that decision easier:
- The condition of tread and side walls.
- The terrain you ride.
- Trips, vacations and races.
1. The condition of tread and side walls. This is fairly straight forward, inspect you tyre for damage and wear. Using my Aggressor as an example, you'll be able to see the differences after a few weeks of riding in dry, rocky conditions.
As you can see in the photo below, that's a brand new Aggressor. We'll use this to compare.
Fresh rubber! zero wear.
Amazing traction and no cuts to worry about. Nothing beats a fresh set of tyres!
Never a good sign.
The above photo shows us our very first sign of damage and wear. Ignoring the tread for now, the side wall cut is more concerning. Since I ride in rocky conditions, this is an all too familiar occurrence. The tyre is on borrowed time and I would not depend on it to hold up. Severe sidewall cuts are clear signs that you shouldbe looking into replacing your tyres.
Far from new.
The above tyre has seen better days, but is it worth replacing? Well, let's talk about what we see first. The centre knobs are worn down. Could be worse but clearly nowhere near fresh. This is going to substantially decrease climbing traction and braking performance. Secondly, you can clearing see the side knobs are worn. The bigger danger here is that they are now undercut - cracked at the base of the knobs. As this gets worse, the knobs will begin to fold over when you're riding. If you've ever been cornering on tyres like this and felt supported to start with, then the bike has disappeared in an instant - it's likely that was the knobs folding over. It's very dangerous to ride on tyres when the knobs are cracked to the point they are folding over they become unpredictable. While side knobs will eventually fall off, this tyre is at the end of its useable life.
2. The terrain you ride. Besides your own personal riding style, the terrain you ride is a strong determining factor. Generally, dry, rocky conditions are incredibly hard on tyres.
Beautiful, but your tyres couldn't disagree more.
The above photo is from Moab which can be described as riding on a big rock, pieces of rock, and sand. Not exactly the best conditions for tyre life. You will notice the effects of having a worn tyre in these conditions and will certainly be replacing your tyres more frequently compared to other conditions.
If you ride in loamy, fresh or organic dirt, then you have prime conditions for traction and tyre life. Not only will your tyres wear slowly, but in my opinion, you can usually hold off a bit longer as well since good dirt provides amazing traction.
3. Trips, vacations and races. While deciding when to replace your tyres is up to debate, the few instances where I strongly encourage it, are bike trips and any race where you've spent a substantial amount of time training for.
Is doesn't matter whether you're headed a few miles outside town or hopping on a plane to Whistler. Bike vacations are memorable experiences and you'll want everything to go smoothly and have a perfectly running bike. No sense taking the time off work and spending the money to travel and have your worn out tyres hold you back. The same can be said about racing. You've spent all season getting in shape and pushing yourself to the max. Worn out tyres WILL slow you down and depending on condition, could result in flats/crashes.
While we can't tell you exactly when to purchase tyres, just consider what you're riding, where your riding, and how important your ride is going to be. I'll never recommend slowing down to extend tyre life, but you can certainly help out a bit by not ripping skids everywhere! Not only is this no good for your tyres, but it's not great for the trails either. You can also consider what tyre compound your ride. While the softer compounds do offer significantly better grip, they will also wear out quicker. You can read about compound differences here.
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We hope this post helps and we'll always be here if you have any questions or need advice.
Until next time,