When to replace your bike tyres

Cycling Holidays French Alps - when to replace your bike tyres

When to replace your bike tyres

A worn set of tyres will have a big effect on your bike’s handling and increase your chances of getting a puncture. Here is our guide to tell when the time has come for a new set.

Worn tyres will fail to grip the road surface as well as a new pair of tyres, which could lead to dangerous situations out on the road. Old tryres will also not profect against punctures or sidewall tears as effectively.


Most road tyres will go through their lives without experiencing too much in the way of trauma, but you might hit a pothole, big stone, or some other obstacle that could cause damage to the structure of the tyre.

Check your tyres carefully if anything like this happens, the impact could have caused damage to the tyre sidewall, even if you don’t suffer a puncture it is always best to check the tyres.

If you do see a tear on the tread or sidewall area of the tyre and the inner tube is visible then the tyre is unsafe to ride. If you see no damage then the casing should be intact and you can ride on.

Tread Wear Indicators

Tyres simply wear out gradually with use due to contact with the road, but certain factors can lead them to be replaced more regularly. Riding harsh conditions will add to the wear of your types, softer compounded tyres will wear quicker than harder compounded tyres.

Some tyres come with wear indicators that tell you when it’s time for a replacement. For example, Continental Road Tyres now have two small “tapholes” in the central area of the tread. These are designed to disappear as the tyre nears the end of its life. Once the holes are gone it’s time to change the tyre.

A small triangle and the letters TWI on the sidewall show you where the tread wear indicator should be.

If you are using tyres without a tread wear indicator the tyre with start to change shape slightly once it is worn out. This will have an effect on the bike’s handling it will no longer look round, it will look more square due to the tread area being worn.

Repeated Flats

If your tyres don’t have tread wear indicators, repeatedly getting punctures for small stones and pieces of glass is an indication that the tread could have worn tin and it’s time to replace your tyres. If the protective layer or casing is showing through, it’s definitely time for some tyres.

Worn Sidewalls

Somtimes the tyre sidewalls will fail before the tread is worn out. The sidewalls of the tyre can be damaged if the bike is left standing on a flat tyre for long periods. Once your tyre is fitted to your wheel it should be inflated or the should be hung up for storage.

Bead Problems

If the tyre bead is damaged and is blown off the rim when you inflate the inner tube, you need to replace the tyre.

Tread Pattern

Don’t get over-concerned about the depth of the tread pattern, if there is one on your tyres, affecting performance. The tread pattern doesn’t make to much difference on a road bike. It has a role in certain circumstances, but it doesn’t do much. However, if the pattern is getting shallow, that could be a warning sign that the tread itself is wearing thin and that the tyres will soon need replacing.

Swapping Front and Rear Tyres

Your rear tyre will wear quicker than your front tyre. Some people will swap over the front and rear tyres after some use to make sure they wear out at roughly the same time. This is something that not everyone agrees with, swapping your tyres will change your bike’s performance and handling. This is due to the fact that your rear tyre goes square with wear and your front tyre generally stays round.

If you are planning on doing a grand fondo it would be best to put some new rubber front and back.

By Matt Brett 

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