Used bike tire size indicator

When to replace a bike tire

Bike tires are the only grip your bike has with the ground. There will come a time when replacing them becomes inevitable.

Replacing a bike tire could arise after you passed a certain mileage threshold or by damage appearing on your tires. The most common sign that your bike tires should be replaced is a sudden streak of flat tires.

What kind of tire does my bike have

All tires have the dimensions written on the side. The bigger number is the diameter of the tire, from numbers ranging between 26″-29″. The other number being the width of the tire ranging between 13-27 mm is the width of the tire

Tire width and diameter information written on the side of the tire

Do bike tires differ for different bike type

Yes, bike tires differ. Even for different seasons, you could have different tires. But fear not, buying the same diameter and width will limit your choice and you can go from there. On the subject of tire width, now could be an opportunity to test some narrower or wider tires. Your wheel could handle some 1 or 2 mm wiggle room. The general area left to look for when buying new tires is at the thread pattern. You can find this information when you choose for the right activity you’re doing. As an example, touring and downhill will have different patterns. These need different grips in specific situations. As for the seasonality aspect, MTB tires made for the winter are much wider than normal ones.

How to spot a damaged bike tire

A tire can be damaged in several ways so be sure to check every case.

For an MTB:

  • Worn out center pattern. The side pattern and the center pattern are different in style and height. This is for good reason as they’re used for different cases. The side ones are for cornering. Even if your side pattern looks good, you may need to replace the tire.
  • Seeing the threads. If you see threads, that’s a bad sign. That means that the protective rubber is now gone and debris will damage your tire even further. Not to mention that you now have no grip in that area.
  • Cuts around the tire. This can be especially seen around the side. These may appear when riding with low-pressure tires or poor storage conditions. Like having the wheel with no air completely the tire has the whole bike weight on it further damaging it.
  • Inconsistencies. Check if some pattern threads are cut off. If there are several, it’s a good time to change the tire.

For a road bike:

It’s trickier for a road bike to check for damaged tires since there are not patterns that can be worn out. It’s also more dangerous to have damaged tires since it’s a guaranteed falling.

  • Wheel symmetry. Rotate your wheel in the air and look if the wheel is slanted in one direction.
  • Puncture streak. Having a streak of punctures will raise the question of whether the tire is damaged. And that is letting debris in and damages the tube.

For both types of tire:

  • Check for a bulge. A tumor-looking bulge is something to worry about and needs replacing.
  • Wear indicator. Some tires have a wear indicator for you to easier know when a tire to be replaced.
  • Sidewall cracks. Storing a bike wheel with no air will damage the tire on the sidewall and create cracks. Always leave your wheels with some air in them in storage.
  • Check both wheels. You may have doubts about one, but while you’re at it check the other one too.
    You can also check your manufacturer’s website for specific tips about bike tire wear.
Tire wear indicator seen on a Continental brand tire. Image credits and more info here.

Even though your tires do not show any sign of wear or damage, that’s not enough. Tires need replacing after a certain mileage has passed.

Bike TypesFlat, Paved TerrainGravelMild Off-Road ConditionsExtreme Off-Road Conditions
Road Bikes Avg.3000 mi1500 miN/AN/A
Racing Tires1000 mi500 miN/AN/A
Touring Hybrid Tires Avg3000-4000 mi2500-3000 mi2500-3000 mi1000 mi
Mountain Bikes Avg.1000-2000 mi3000-6000+ mi3000-6000+ mi1000-1500 mi
Tire wear table taken from

Can you fix a damaged bike tire?

Having a puncture is the only time you can fix a damaged bike tire. Even that is limited to doing a couple of times on a tire until it will not work anymore. If the tire is damaged in any other way, it needs to be replaced.

What to look for when buying a new tire

If you’re buying a new tire, look for seasonality and what specific activity you will be doing on your bike. Having the same patterns or widths on the front and rear wheels is not that important. If you’re looking for a second-hand tire, look for the things already said in this post.

How much does a bicycle tire cost?

As with any bike parts, bike tire costs differ , but you can find the tires you need in the $20-$50 range.

What happens if you don’t change a bike tire?

Not changing a bike tire when it needs to can lead to serious harm. If you’re lucky, the only thing that will happen is you get a streak of flat tires. Worst case, your front tire explodes due to damage and an inevitable fall will happen.

How to store bike tires

Storing your bike wheels is a straightforward process. Inflate the wheels for the tires to not hold the weight of the whole bike and create side cracks. If you have many tires, you can do this trick to rotate them a couple of times without bending them.

Regardless of how you store your tires, changing them every 5 years is recommended.

What to do with old bike tires

If you have a bike trainer at home, you can keep using them with old tires since new ones are not needed. Use them in your old beater bike if you have one. Check your local laws, as tires may not be accepted in the general trash bin. Ask your local bike shop what to do with the tires, there’s a good chance they will take it off your hands.


There are many places to check to see when to replace a bike tire. After some time it will become a habit and after each ride, you’ll take a minute to inspect the possible damage. Tires are important for your safety since that’s your only contact with the ground. Give them the attention they need and check them often.

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