road bike tire tread

How Long Do Road Bike Tires Last?

Road cycling is an epic sport, and long days out in the saddle can be great fun. Working hard on tough climbs and enjoying the breeze on fast descents is like nothing else. Road cycling is getting increasingly popular, and many fitness enthusiasts are turning to lightweight bikes with skinny tires for their cardiovascular fixes.

There’s also a side of cycling that many people forget, bike maintenance. Keeping on top of oil, chains, cables, and tires is a skill in itself. A question we are often asked is how long road tires last. In this article, we’ll tell you the unique characteristics of road bike tires and let you know the different types of road tires, how to look after them properly, and finally, how long they last.

front road bike tire up close

What are the unique properties of road bike tires?

Road bike tires are designed to be fast on the tarmac but also give you excellent grip. Here’s what you will find when looking at road bike tires.

Skinny and Large

Road bike tires are much smaller than other types you might find on the market. Modern day ties come in at a width of 23c to 28c, and these are typically the smallest tires on the market as far as width goes. The diameter is actually very large on road bike tires, typically 700c which is the same as a 29” mountain bike tire.

High PSI

Road bike tires run at very high pressure. They do not need to take impacts or roll over technical obstacles. Your typical pressure would be anywhere from 60psi to 100psi.

Smooth and Slick

Road bike tires are smooth and slick, like race car tires. They are made to be slick, so there’s as much of the tire on the ground as possible to create grip. They are not good on loose terrain and require the roughness of tarmac to control the bike. On slippery surfaces such as drains, they are near useless.

road bike tire tread

How do you look after your road tires?

If you want to extend the life of your road tires to get the most value out of them as possible, then we highly recommend keeping on top of these top tips.

Keep checking the pressure

Keeping the correct pressure will go a long way to prolonging the life of your tire. If it’s too low, you can cause uneven tire wear. If it’s too high, you can cause blowouts which can easily cause tire rips and accidents.

Check for rips and flint

One of the most common practices we advise, either after you finish riding or before each ride, is to check your tires for flint or small pieces of rock. If you do this, you can find sharp objects which currently lay dormant and can be taken out before they cause any damage to the inner tube.

Be selective on the roads you use

Road bike tires are designed to be ridden on roads, where they will perform best and last the longest. If you use them on gravel or rough terrain, you will find them to deteriorate much faster and just not last as long as they should.

Switch Front to Back

A great trick many cyclists do is to switch their tires halfway through life. The rear tire of a bike will typically wear quicker than the front, so if you switch them at the right time, you can get some free miles.

road bike resting on wall

The different types of road bike tires

Road bike tires come in many different forms and have certain characteristics which set them apart from each other.

Folding or Non Folding

On the market, you will hear about folding and non-folding tires. Folding tires are a more premium option. They are not wired inside and have more flexibility. A folding tire’s compound gives better performance, but they often wear out much faster. Non-folding tires have a wired compound which offers a better structure, and with many, you can find they will last longer.

TPI rating

TPI stands for threads per inch. There’s a common misconception that the more thread per inch, the better puncture protection when actually it’s the opposite. The more threads in a tire, the less rubber compound. A lower TPI will make a tire lighter and help it perform, but less rubber does make it wear quicker and more prone to punctures.

Type of Tire

Tires are designed for certain types of riding. A racing tire will be made to be fast and lightweight. An endurance tire will be designed to have puncture protection and a good level of performance. A puncture-resistant tire will be designed with less performance but a better level of protection. Typically tires made with a higher level of protection will last longer.

Tubeless, Tubular, and Clincher

Tires mount and seal in different ways and, because of this, are made differently. Tubular tires are typically made for racing and have a fairly short lifespan. Tubeless and clincher typically last much longer and are built for higher mileage.

Related: How To Deflate A Bike Tire?

checking road bike tire tread

How long do road bike tires last?

There are a lot of different variables when it comes to how long a road bike tire will last. Brand, cost, the terrain you ride on, and rider weight make a difference. This can only be taken as a rough estimate. Here are a few tables to give you examples of how long you can expect a tire to last.

Type of TireLow CostMid Range CostHigh Cost
Racing Tire1000 Miles1750 Miles2500 Miles
Endurance Tire2000 Miles3000 Miles4000 Miles
Protective Tire2500 Miles3500 Miles4500 Miles

How do you know when your tire needs replacing?

Many cyclists ask us about how they will know when it’s time to change a tire, and here’s what you need to look out for.

Lots of Punctures

As soon as you start getting punctures and keep getting them, then more than likely, it is time to change your tires over.

Rips and Tears

If your tires have large rips and tears, you must change them sooner rather than later. These won’t fix themselves and will just get larger and cause issues while you’re trying to enjoy your riding.

Threads Showing

If you have been using a set of tires for a long time and start seeing loose threads, it is time to swap them over, as this means they are losing their structural integrity.

Noticeable Wear

When you start seeing noticeable wear, then it might be time to swap your tires. If your tires are flat (how to tell if your tires are flat) in the center and the tread is disappearing, then changing them before you start getting punctures is a great idea.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to cycling, and knowing when you change your tires is something that comes with experience. Keeping on top of your tires will ensure safe and happy riding.

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