Cyclists love collecting spare gear, parts, and even clothing. The mentality behind such habits is that doing this allows them to save up for “Rainy Days”. There are other reasons for stocking up on tires too, or maybe they were available at a discount or you just had to buy them. Some may consider this a really good practice while others might condemn it.
If you ask me then I would never go for this kind of approach, it is a waste of money and you are just stocking up on something that you might even not use in the future. With this being said, I need to clear up one thing: Bicycle Tires Do Expire!
Have you ever wondered about this? I mean, everything has a limit and if you use them frequently then one day they will expire. The thing with bicycle tires is that if you don’t use them for a considerable amount of time, they will just expire, and you won’t be able to use them anymore.
If these tires are exposed to excessive heat, moisture, or light then they will start rotting from the inside and eventually break down. Keeping all of this in mind, if you store the bike tires properly, then they can last for a couple of years and you can use them when your existing tires need replacing.
We can understand that bicycle tires can be really expensive at times but there are limited options that must choose from. Tires are the only contact points between the bike and the ground, we can’t be choosy when it comes to them. I cannot stress this enough but you need to be very careful with bike tires, you need to keep on checking them if they are still good or have gone bad. If that’s truly your goal you have landed in the perfect spot!
Why Do Bicycle Tires Go Bad? (The Most Common Reasons)
Bicycle Tires are perhaps the most important component of a bike, and we must always choose them carefully. Tires of superior quality can last for a very long time (If you take care of them!). On the other hand, if you go with average-quality tires then you will end up replacing them every now and then.
Still, what are the most common reasons behind the expiry of bicycle tires? Let’s find out!
They Are Exposed To Excessive Heat and Light
Excessive heat and light aren’t something to take lightly, they can be deadly for a lot of materials and that also includes rubber. If you leave your tires in a very hot garage or leave them exposed in front of the sun for a long period of time then they will start drying out and lose their unique properties. Let me give you an example here, when an elastic band goes bad, it just breaks down instead of stretching. In the case of bicycle tires, they become very brittle and then break down.
If you really have to store them, then store them in a cool and dry place.
They Are Exposed To Excessive Moisture
Excessive moisture can kill your bicycle tires and you won’t even notice it till you’re too late. The main thing is that you don’t want your bike tires to get too dry, but you must also protect them from getting too wet, there has to be a balance. What happens when the tires are exposed to excessive moisture? Whenever this happens, the tires become moldy and start rotting from the inside.
You might not know about this but a moldy and waterclogged tire is the perfect breeding ground for various insects and bacteria. I faced a problem like this a while back, my tires got too wet and I forgot to dry them. One day I noticed something very strange and when I inspected it, I found mosquitoes inside my tires!
Lack Of Proper Ventilation
Proper airflow is very critical in wicking away excess heat and moisture, and this needs to be understood by everyone. You need to think about this for a moment, all kinds of athletic clothing prioritize breathability. The same principle applies to bike tires as well, there must always be proper ventilation.
If we store our bicycle tires in poorly ventilated areas, then the effects of heat, light, and moisture exposure will be compounded. When this happens, the rubber will degrade faster than usual and its performance will be negatively impacted.
Punctures and Tear
Sharp objects on the road, like glass, nails, or thorns, can puncture or tear bicycle tires, so you need to be very careful about them. Punctures can sometimes be repaired with patches, but extensive damage may require replacing the tire. Since we know that bike tires can be very expensive at times, we must always exercise caution.
You must be thinking what do I mean by age when I talk about bicycle tires? If a bicycle tire has not been used in a while then it will deteriorate. Rubber compounds harden and become less resilient over time, making them more prone to cracking and failure.
This one might not seem like that much of an issue but it really is a big one. Maintaining the correct tire pressure is crucial, no matter what type of bike you have. Underinflated tires are more susceptible to pinch flats and excessive wear, while overinflated tires can suffer from a harsher ride and are more prone to damage from impacts.
Here is the recommended PSI for different types of bikes:
- Kid’s Bike Tires: 20-40 PSI
- Road Bikes: 80-130 PSI
- Hybrid Bikes: 50-70 PSI
- Mountain Bikes: 30 PSI (Off-Road), 50 PSI (On-Road)
There is a huge difference between poor-quality and high-quality tires, and this is something that you have to keep in mind always. Lower-quality tires have weaker rubber compounds and construction, which leads to faster deterioration and a shorter lifespan. As discussed in the beginning, tires are expensive but you have to get them anyway. If higher-quality tires will serve you for a very long time then why not invest in them?
Read On: How Long Do Bike Tires Last?: Get insights into the lifespan of bicycle tires.
How To Tell If Your Bike Tires Have Gone Bad (Secret Alarming Signs!)
Hopefully, till now you might have a really good idea why your bike tires are expiring quickly. Let’s just say that you have been storing your bike tires for an emergency, how will you know if they are still usable? Here’s how you can see if the tires are salvageable or not!
Hold the bike tire in your hand and start examining it carefully, pay extra attention to the shape of the tires. If they are in any other shape than round, then it is a bad sign. They could be warped, bent, or just any other shape. Here are some additional signs that indicate that your bike tires have finally gone bad!
Worn Down Tread
This sign is very easy to spot, you should have no trouble finding it. If there is an absence of remaining tread then it is a big indicator that your tires have gone bad and need replacing.
Remember when we discussed that too much exposure to heat can actively damage the bike tires? When the bike tires are exposed to too much heat or are stored in an awful condition, the rubber cracks become brittle with age. This can be very dangerous if the tires are not replaced immediately. The cracks will start appearing on the sidewalls, when this happens just throw away those tires.
Do you keep on getting flat tires, even though you have been taking really good care of them? This is a very big sign that your bike tires have now gone bad.
Cuts and Holes
The road is full of beauty but it is also filled with a lot of dangerous elements which can damage your bike and the tires. Mostly at times, the road is filled with all sorts of junk and debris, there is a very high chance of this happening after rain. Whenever you go out, take a preliminary look at your bike tires, and see if there are any cuts or punctures. If there are any cuts or holes, then there will be no other option than to replace the tires.
What about repairing though? Yes, you can always try your luck with repairs but that won’t take you far. Repairs don’t last very long, the best course of action is always to replace.
Note: If your tires show any of these signs then the best course of action would be to replace them ASAP.
Read On: How Long Do Bike Tires Last?: Get insights into the lifespan of bicycle tires.
How To Make Bike Tires Last Longer In Storage (Tips and Tricks!)
Since Bicycle Tires are actually expensive, it is a good idea to store them up, but you must do this intelligently. Many people just store the tires in any condition without paying attention to safety guidelines, and over time same tires become unusable. Trust me when I say this, there is no problem with storing the bike tires, you just have to store them correctly.
Here are some tips and tricks that I want you to adopt!
Store Them In A Cool And Dry Place
You must always protect your bike tires from extreme temperatures, the best way to do this is to store them in a cool and dry place. I would suggest storing them in a climate-controlled place, your garage is the best place to start with. Make sure that your garage isn’t too hot or cold to begin with.
Apart from this, you also need to protect the bike tires from light exposure. Store the bike tires away from direct sunlight, and also make sure that the area is well-ventilated. Just like anything else, your tires need to breathe too. You might not be aware but stagnant air promotes the growth of bacteria which can be a big issue.
Cover The Tires Properly
This one is a no-brainer, you need to properly cover the bike tires whenever you store them. You can cover the tires with either blankets or sheets, this will shield them from moisture and light exposure.
Store The Tires In An Upright Or Flat Position
When it comes to storage, many people go with cardboard boxes, there is no harm in storing the tires in boxes but you must place those boxes in a specific manner. Make sure that the tires that are placed in boxes are not being squished by something else. If you don’t want to go with boxes then just store the tires in an upright or flat position. Why am I emphasizing a flat or upright position?
Let me give you an example. Have you ever slept in an awkward position, and when you woke up your body was stuck in that position? The same case applies to bike tires, if they are stored in a weird position then they will lose their roundness when it is time to install them. You don’t want them to look really wonky when you finally decide to use them.
If you store tires in a weird position then they are at a greater risk of getting a flat or just puncturing. You might even experience inconsistent grip and steering which is way more dangerous.
Read On: How To Check Tire Pressure: A step-by-step guide to ensuring your tires are properly inflated.
How Long Do Bike Tires Last In Storage?
So, you have decided to store your bike tires, that’s a really good idea. You must also be wondering about their condition, and how long will it take them to expire. If you store the bike tires properly, following each and every advice that we have laid out for you then they should last around 3-6 years.
However you have to keep in mind that this lifespan is not written in stone, it will vary from brand to brand. Apart from the brand, the condition and quality of the tires will also vary, so you have to keep this in mind. If the tires are stored in a terrible condition, they will break down in a matter of months.
Manufacturers of bike tires don’t disclose the definite lifespan of bike tires, this is done for liability purposes. It could be more or less than what they have mentioned and this actually happens. However, Specialized was very precise with their wording when we reached out for a comment. Here is what they said:
Tires and tubes should be stored in a dark, cool, ventilated area. Heat, UV light, Ozone, and time degrade the rubber compound. The tires keep their performance level for about three years. Then the aging agents and softeners have dissipated enough to let you feel the difference in grip and suppleness. However, it is safe to use tires up to six years after manufacturing.
Read On: Ride a Bike With a Flat Tire: Tips for handling flat tires on the road.
Watch: 5 Signs You Need To Change Your Bike Tires
Still confused about bike tire expiry? Here are some signs that indicate bike tire expiry!
Must Read: How Long Do Bike Tires Last
The lifespan of bicycle tires is indeed a topic worth exploring, and the verdict is clear: Bicycle tires do have a shelf life and can go bad over time. While there isn’t a universally fixed expiration date, several factors such as storage conditions, usage patterns, and the type of rubber compound used in the tire all play a crucial role in determining how long your tires will last.
Here are some additional tips that I want to share with you:
- There is actually no point in saving bike tires for 3-6 years, this is taking into account the rapid technological advancement. With the current pace of technology, you will find better tires in the coming years.
- Always protect your bike tires from UV light, photodegradation, ozone, solvents, heat, chemicals, and freezing temperatures.
Just like any other component of your bike, taking good care of your tires is crucial to prolong their life and ensure your safety on the road. Regular inspections, proper inflation, and avoiding extreme conditions can go a long way in extending the life of your bicycle tires.
Ultimately, whether you’re a beginner or a dedicated cyclist, being mindful of your tires’ condition and knowing when it’s time for a replacement is key to enjoying a smooth and safe ride. So, keep an eye on those rubber companions, and they’ll keep you rolling along the open road for many more adventures to come. Happy Riding!
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