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  1. #1
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    How far down do you wear your tires?

    Just wondering what sorts of rules of thumb you folks follow for deciding when your tires are worn out and need replacing. It's not like bike tires come with the wear indicators found on car tires. Do you ride them until you see the belt showing through? Until they fall apart? Until flats are too frequent? Just curious what others do.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Mine get many cuts before they wear out.
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    Continentals do have wear indicators, at least on the 4000's that I have had.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by budmol3 View Post
    Continentals do have wear indicators, at least on the 4000's that I have had.
    Gatorskins don't, 4000's do.

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    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    When I see cords showing on the rear, the front tire goes on the rear, and the new tire goes on the front.

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    I find that when I get the first flat the tire is on its last legs

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    Gatorskins don't, 4000's do.
    That's not true. I'm running Gatorskins now and they most certainly have wear indicators on them just like GP 4000s.

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    Usually until the cords are showing - but sometimes I'll replace one early if I get several unexplained flats - or flats due to a cord broken on the inside of the tire.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafzali View Post
    That's not true. I'm running Gatorskins now and they most certainly have wear indicators on them just like GP 4000s.
    I have a bike with Gatorskins on it, and a new spare hanging in the garage. None of the 3 tires has wear indicators.

  10. #10
    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    I've never used any until the belt starts to show - I basically replace them when I can't stand looking at some of the cuts. That's because I worry about small hard bits getting lodged in the cuts and working their way through.

    A friend recommended mixing powdered rubber (sanded off old tubes) with rubber solution (for applying patches) to fix those cuts, but I guess I feel safer with a fresh tyre.

  11. #11
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    I sometimes run a tire until I see cords. More likely my tires get cuts and chunks out of them and it is obvious (to me) that they need replaced. It can be more subjective, too. I just bought a 2005 Cannondale Raod Tandem with 35 miles on it. The original tires looked brand new but I am not going to ride on 8 year old tires. I replaced them.

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    I run them until you can see the cords. Unless I have had them on a while and am going to an event, then they go in the trainer pile and I put on a new set.
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  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    I have a bike with Gatorskins on it, and a new spare hanging in the garage. None of the 3 tires has wear indicators.
    The mix of triangle patterns on the caps of gatorskins are wear indicators.
    Wearing down the upper triangle to the level of the larger, lower triangle is a sign the cap has worn out its useful tread life.

    i run my tires until i significantly chisel top them; never to the cords.

    Like unterhausen has noticed, once a tire gets its first flat, its often a sign the breaker belt and carcass is worn out. I am wary of rotating bicycle tires, as the better condition tire should be in front, but i will rotate tires if i'm mounting a new set not near the end of its service cycle, but after 600 miles or so for a burly road tire, 3-400 for a racing tire.

    This lets the tread wear even out somewhat without significantly compromising the safety factor riding on the front tire.

    Otherwise, my usual tire rotation is:

    New on front, front to back, discard old back tire.

    Buy only one tire at a time, not two, and always have a newer tire on the front of the bike.

    -------------
    I did have to replace a set of tires from excessive wear in just one week.

    After taking a set of Vittoria Rubino ProTechs 700/28s to Maui, the wet weather rubber pattern coupled with lava composition of the island made those tires die the death of a thousand cuts in one week. And i did only a few miles of un-paved riding mixed in a few hundred road miles.

    No flats, but Maui chewed those tires up like they were a dog toy. Casing sidewall reinforcements were shredded, tread cap laced with cuts and gouges. Couldn't ride those tires in confidence once i got home and saw what Maui did to the tires.

    Vittoria took them back under customer satisfaction pledge. Great company, love the tires, Rubino pro techs are Conti 4season' smarter, faster cousin.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-21-13 at 05:00 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    Usually until the cords are showing - but sometimes I'll replace one early if I get several unexplained flats - or flats due to a cord broken on the inside of the tire.
    +1.

    Although, I'll try to remember to check the tires before a long ride. Rode a metric in unfamiliar hills a couple years ago, and noticed the fabric showing through the night before in the motel. The time I didn't bother to bring an extra tire. (Made it somehow, but I was pretty ginger pedalling up the hills!)

  15. #15
    aspiring dirtbag commuter max-a-mill's Avatar
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    depends on the ride...

    for training and commuting i push my tires pretty far. but if i am going on a planned long ride or race i will make sure the bike has fresh(ish) tires. old tires usually get relegated to the commuter to be properly killed before throwing them away. i have even kept a nice set of wheels (with nice tires) for big rides and a trainer wheelset with cheap tires for everything else.

    i'd rather replace flats on my commute or training loops where i am close to home and know my surroundings than when i am out trying to ride some ridiculous distance in a short time...

    even with new tires i still have a stupid light race tire i bring along in case one of my tires get a big hole or sidewall tear. never had to use it but to me it is cheap relatively light insurance. i have three young children so expecting the wife to come bail me out these days is not an option.
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  16. #16
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    I'm sort of ashamed to admit that I haven't worn out a pair of tires yet, since I acquire new bikes too rapidly. I hope to remedy that with a lot of miles this year.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    The Continental Rep told me Gatorskins should last about 6000 miles. I put 6300 miles on the first ones and they still have tread. I bought a second pair partly because I impaled the rear tire with a roofing nail. Even Gatorskins can't stop a roofing nail.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    The mix of triangle patterns on the caps of gatorskins are wear indicators.
    Wearing down the upper triangle to the level of the larger, lower triangle is a sign the cap has worn out its useful tread life.
    Wow, been riding these tires for years and had no idea the tread pattern was supposed to be a wear indicator. I suspect there are bike shops that don't know this. The things you learn here. Just so we are clear. Here is a picture of the gatorskin off the Conti web site. Looking at the picture on the right. When the little triangle is worn away to the tip of the big triangle then Conti considers them worn out?


  19. #19
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texasdiver View Post
    Wow, been riding these tires for years and had no idea the tread pattern was supposed to be a wear indicator. I suspect there are bike shops that don't know this. The things you learn here. Just so we are clear. Here is a picture of the gatorskin off the Conti web site. Looking at the picture on the right. When the little triangle is worn away to the tip of the big triangle then Conti considers them worn out?

    Correct.

    How this design feature works can be seen in the cutaway view. A line drawn from the tip of the big triangle thru the little triangle transects the cap of the tire slightly above the reinforcing wrap of first layers of casing.

    Yes, it's something probably 95 percent of the shop monkeys and riders of Gatorskins are unaware of, despite their widespread popularity.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-19-13 at 04:45 AM.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Bikey Mikey's Avatar
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    My Gatorskins also have 2 dimples which I'm sure are also tread wear indicators.


    Here's an image from my first set of tires.

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  21. #21
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Continental puts tread wear indicator patterns in all their clincher road tires and sport contact, except the completely slick supersonic, specifically designed for lightweight and supple at the expense of tread life. They also include tread wear indicators on their GP4000 tubular.
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  22. #22
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I'll remove a tire while the rubber compound still has some depth to it. Often my tires start to show small cuts and other damage before the rubber compound is fully worn. A well worn high performance tire is a flat magnet. My new tires are always flat-resistant, my worn tires are far less reliable.

    Trying to get the last 20% of mileage from a well worn tire is a false economy IMO. The time spent changing a flat while on the road has a value to me, and it's a greater value than the small cost savings of using a tire until fully worn.
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  23. #23
    Drops small screws noteon's Avatar
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    Any time I start wondering if it's been long enough, it's been long enough.

    I flatted at mile zero of my first 200K of 2012, and kept flatting through the event until I ran out of tubes and patch stuff. DNF.

    Just replace it.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    A year ago, I was cruising along a familiar street in the bike lane, went under an overpass, around a blind curve...to see the next 40' of bike lane was covered to a depth of about 0.5" in crushed glass. I was moving too fast to brake, and there was too much traffic to swing into the adjacent lane, so I plowed through it. Then I stopped to examine the tires for embedded glass.

    That was when I discovered the Gatorskin in the rear was just starting to show cords. After examining both tires and finding nothing embedded, I rode the remaining miles home, then swapped out the tires and discarded the rear.

    I don't buy into the idea that worn tires are really that prone to flats.
    In fact the first Gatorskin I wore out had more flats in the *first* half of its life, than in the second half.

  25. #25
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    A year ago, I was cruising along a familiar street in the bike lane, went under an overpass, around a blind curve...to see the next 40' of bike lane was covered to a depth of about 0.5" in crushed glass. I was moving too fast to brake, and there was too much traffic to swing into the adjacent lane, so I plowed through it. Then I stopped to examine the tires for embedded glass.

    That was when I discovered the Gatorskin in the rear was just starting to show cords. After examining both tires and finding nothing embedded, I rode the remaining miles home, then swapped out the tires and discarded the rear.

    I don't buy into the idea that worn tires are really that prone to flats.
    In fact the first Gatorskin I wore out had more flats in the *first* half of its life, than in the second half.
    well, you were confident gatorskins didn't have wear indicators either, but i won't hold it against you!

    Tires get old, just like an old pair of jeans. Conti's fabric reinforcement grid is pretty stout thru that tire's life, but the cord/rubber interface is slowly deteriorating, most flat breaker plys are getting worn out, and the tread also has less protective mms of rubber that is also potentially running gouges, nicks, potential shredding presenting weaknesses in the tire level of flat resistance, all the while imbedded microparticles migrate to break the ply barrier.

    just like a worn pair of jeans being more likely to develop a hole in the knee. Paradoxically, less of a problem in more expensive tires and tubulars, but still problematic. there's less rubber in better tires, more reliance on casing integrity to hold it all together.

    The degradation of resistance over time may not be as amplified as a discussion of them make them out to be, but certainly a consideration if you put a lot of miles on tires like most LD riders do.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-20-13 at 03:10 AM.
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