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Tandem Cycling A bicycle built for two. Want to find out more about this wonderful world of tandems? Check out this forum to talk with other tandem enthusiasts. Captains and stokers welcome!

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Old 04-05-08, 12:33 PM   #1
Niobium Rocket
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Tire mileage and rotation

How many miles to do you get on a set of tamdem tires and how often to you rotate them, front to back, not round and round.


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Old 04-05-08, 04:13 PM   #2
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Got 2200 miles from the rear 28c Gatorskins that came with the tandem and the front looks brand new hanging in the garage.. Switched to 25c GP-4000 and they seem to be wearing equally as well. On both single and tandem I always put new on front and broken in front to the rear.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:48 PM   #3
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I never rotate tires. Just can't see any advantage to doing so. I jreplace them as needed, front or rear.
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Old 04-05-08, 05:33 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Niobium Rocket View Post
How many miles to do you get on a set of tamdem tires and how often to you rotate them, front to back, not round and round.
Tire wear / replacement varies significantly from team to team and tire make/model to make/model. We use softer compound, narrow racing tires and even then tire wear can vary significantly depending on how much time we spend riding in the mountains vs. our local rolling terrain: climbing really takes its toll on rear tires.

However, in general, one of our rear tires will last anywhere from 1,100 to 1,500 miles before the tread compound wears through to the puncture resistant strip (PRS). By this point the rear tire is pretty-well squared-off and its at t his point -- when the PRS layer is peeking through the tread -- when I move the front tire to the rear wheel and put a new tire on the front wheel.

A harder-compound touring or sport tire like a Panaracer Pasela, Specialized Armadillo, or Vrestestein Ricorso's tread compounds will take twice as long to wear down as the softer compounds, but don't have as much bite/track as well. I've never been able to give up my penchant for handling over long-tire life/lower tire cost, but that's just another one of those trade-offs each rider has to make.

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Originally Posted by rmwkokomo
I never rotate tires. Just can't see any advantage to doing so. I jreplace them as needed, front or rear.
A front tire will rarely wear down the tread before the tire compound begins to dry-out on most single bikes and, in particular, on tandems where the rear tires wears out at least two-times faster than on single bikes. Therefore, given that it takes a whopping 3-5 minutes to change a front tire, keeping the best tire on the front of a tandem is a prudent practice, hence it's a reasonable practice to move the front tire to the back wheel when the rear tires wear out.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-05-08 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 04-06-08, 10:42 AM   #5
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I personally do not get rotating tires on a bike. You do it on a car so you can get even wear and replace all 4 tires at once. On a bike it's not an issue buying one tire as needed.

Rotating tires doesn't magically create tire life that would not otherwise exist. Any given tire only has a set a mount of wear, whether its expended on the front or the back. So over the long haul you'll buy the same number of tires, whether you rotate them or not.

The only argument for rotating that makes any sense to me is to move a front to the back, as the front squares off. The theory being that the front tire hits a point you don't want to corner on it.

However, for me if the front tire is worn to the point I don't trust it on the front, I'd just as soon replace it altogether.

For me the major cost of replacing a tire is not the purchase cost of the new one, but the time spent doing it. So even if I could theoretically save a couple of dollars a year by moving tires around, it wouldn't be worth the time expenditure.
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Old 04-06-08, 02:03 PM   #6
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I personally do not get rotating tires on a bike.
Unless you do a lot of high-speed descending on your tandem, it probably never will make any sense.... In short, when you're doing 45-50 mph down 4 miles of twisties or find you speedo tickling the low 60's now and again with your beloved on the back of your tandem, you want your front tire to be the best tire on the bike (period).

As for the time it takes to move that tire/tube from the front rim to the rear, if you're proficient it takes about the same amount of time that it took for you to compose your reply to this subject.
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Old 04-06-08, 03:06 PM   #7
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Unless you do a lot of high-speed descending on your tandem, it probably never will make any sense.... In short, when you're doing 45-50 mph down 4 miles of twisties or find you speedo tickling the low 60's now and again with your beloved on the back of your tandem, you want your front tire to be the best tire on the bike (period).

As for the time it takes to move that tire/tube from the front rim to the rear, if you're proficient it takes about the same amount of time that it took for you to compose your reply to this subject.
I understand why you want a good front tire.

What I don't get is bothering to take a half worn front tire and put it on the back, rather than just replacing the front with a new tire.
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Old 04-06-08, 03:32 PM   #8
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On my single i can get 4 to 1 front to rear wear.
By the time the front wears out it is showing signs of aging.
I once tried putting the worn but still useable rear to the front and the flat spot drove me nuts.
Moving the front to the rear gets rid of the aging tire quicker.
Mine, even on the tandem, aren't half gone on the front when the rear needs replacing.
I use GP-4000's and replace just before the wear indicator dots disappear.
Of course the occasional bad luck tire shread screws up a good system.
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Old 04-06-08, 03:45 PM   #9
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old vs new

I don't like old tires,particularly on the front. I prefer to use up tires as fast as possible,and that means moving an unworn front tire to the back.

UV rays,heat and time take their toll on tires so I prefer the front to be as new as possible.

I have also noticed that a new tire just feels better up front than an older one.Maybe its in my head,but if I think its better then ,to me, its worth rotating.

Last edited by dfcas; 04-06-08 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 04-06-08, 04:36 PM   #10
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What I don't get is bothering to take a half worn front tire and put it on the back, rather than just replacing the front with a new tire.
Again, the easiest tire replacement I can think of involves letting the air out of a broken-in tire where the tube has bedded itself in the casing, where you peel off the tire/tube off one rim as a unit and move it to another rim. It's completely different and effortless compared to installing a new tire or replacing a tube.

In fact, I just replaced my wife's rear tire on her single bike today:

1. Remove and let the air out of the rear tire; strip tire/tube off the rim.
2. Remove and let the air out of the front tire; strip tire/tube off the rim.
3. Hook bead of front tire/tube on rear rim, fit tire/tube by hand & inflate, reinstall on frame.
4. Install new tire / tube on front rim, reinstall on frame.

She now has a very good tire that's still supple, showing all of it's tread and even the flash strip on the rear that's only a few months old and a brand-spanking new tire on the front. The rear tire that suddenly lost it's shape and began to come apart in four places (two on each side of the tire) is now in the trash. This was, after all, the oldest tire on her bike having been several months old before it sat idle on the bike over the winter before resuming her 25 mile, after work rides two weeks ago.

Note: I'm not trying to change anyone's mind regarding how to go about changing their tires. However, like many things in cycling, there are reasons that other embrace different practices and habits and wanted to share some of my perspective on this particular habit.

Last edited by TandemGeek; 04-06-08 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 04-06-08, 06:34 PM   #11
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I don't often put brand new tires on the rear of either my single or the tandem, preferring to get all the life I can out of one before it goes into the trash. That usually means that a tire gets maybe 1000-1500 miles on it as the front, then gets rotated to the back where it might get another 1000 to 1500 miles.

We've had the pattern get broken a couple of times by incurring either a bad cut on the rear that needed to be replaced with lots of tread remaining or a sidewall seeming to fail prematurely on either the front or the back.

As most other teams, we're considerably harder on rear tires than front ones, and I try to keep the best treaded tire on the front.
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Old 04-06-08, 07:17 PM   #12
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I run 2 rears for every front on both the tandem and my single. The front usually never wears out, but easy to buy tires in 3's and keep on track. I never rotate.
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Old 04-06-08, 09:10 PM   #13
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When a tire wears out/fails it gets replaced. We do not rotate tires.
While we do not ride as far as we used to, we do ride very regularly and year round and don't give the tires a chance to show dry rot from sitting too long.
Pedal on TWOgether!
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Old 04-10-08, 10:08 PM   #14
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Back in 1999 we wrote an article '25,000 Mile Tandem Test' on our custom Co-Motion twicer and listed specifics on component wear, incuding tires.
The best mileage on front was Continental SuperSport: 6,166 miles. The worst on front was on the same brand/model tire . . . a meager 525 miles.
Best rear tire mileage was on a Conti GranSport of 3,591 miles.
During that time we also rode other brands: Specialized Armadillos, Performance GT (surprising mileage wear for an inexpensive tire) and the Wolber Invulnerable (which should have been re-named 'Vulnerable').
Also experienced 56 flats (20 front/36 rear) which proves that what most of us already know: we always seem to flatten the rear tire.
While the amount of flats seems high, remember, we did most of our riding in the Arizona desert where majority of punctures/flats were caused by cactus thorns/goatheads, shards of glass and metal strands from steel belted radial car tires. Some unusual flats were a broken Presta valvestem and some of those 'no glue' patches that did not really hold up to well.
That averaged to a flat for every 446 miles . . . a good pump/patchkit takes care of that!
Tire technology has changed quite a bit in the last dozen years with better flat protection, lighter tires, Kevlar beads . . . and higher prices.
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Old 04-11-08, 08:13 PM   #15
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We don't rotate and also replace the pair of tires when needed. We got 2265 miles from a pair of Vittoria Rubino Pros when the rear blew beyond repair. Retired the front and replaced the set with a pair of Conti Ultragator Skins. About 1000 miles on them so far with no trouble but it does seem they have a higher resistance to rolling (could be my imagination). Team weight ~320 lbs.
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