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When did tires become directional?

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When did tires become directional?

Old 01-30-11, 05:20 PM
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When did tires become directional?

And when/why did it become "compulsory" to mount them with the label at the valve stem? A directional tread at least requires the label be on a particular side (and on the right only if the manufacturer made it that way). But I see no reason for the position other than style and perhaps convenience of reading the pressure when pumping up.
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Old 01-30-11, 05:26 PM
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Placing the label at the valve stem can also make it easier to identify where a puncture occurred.

Plus I think it looks a little neater if you take a little extra time to line thing up.

When did they become directional? I suppose there are some designs which consider water displacement or whatever else you roll over. I would guess the gain from having it one way or the other isn't really noticeable though.
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Old 01-30-11, 05:27 PM
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The label gives you a reference point when you have a puncture. Pull the bad tube, find the hole then use valve location as a reference for checking the tire for wire, glass etc. Rotational tires are generally marked with an arrow.

habes beat me to it.
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Old 01-30-11, 06:34 PM
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I have quite a few bicycles and I always position the tire pressure information next to the valve stem. I do this for practical reasons since I cannot remember how much pressure to assign to each tire. Some bikes I own run a 25mm on the back and a 23mm on the front. That means I have two tire pressures to remember on some bikes.

Anyway, this is what works for me.
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Old 01-30-11, 06:40 PM
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to paraphrase Sheldon: it's a crock since a bicycle never attains speeds (or weighs enough) in which the directional pattern of treads comes into play...mount them "backwards", it makes no difference. He would endorse the practice of lining up the label with valve stem, so do I.
http://sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#direction

mandrake:I should add that he says this about road tires, and specifically concerning hydroplaning...not off-road tires

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Old 01-30-11, 06:47 PM
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What about on a mtn. bike with knobbies? I have some tires where reversing the tread pattern look like it would decrease traction and not ride as well on smooth surfaces and maybe wear out prematurely. I always go with the direction stated on all tires. There is no apparent reason not to.
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Old 01-30-11, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
And when/why did it become "compulsory" to mount them with the label at the valve stem? A directional tread at least requires the label be on a particular side (and on the right only if the manufacturer made it that way). But I see no reason for the position other than style and perhaps convenience of reading the pressure when pumping up.
It's not and never has been compulsory. Don't do it if you don't want to.

I always center the valve stem on the label on the drive side because it makes it look like the bike has been worked on by a professional that cares about doing quality work.
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Old 01-30-11, 06:55 PM
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+1 on lining up the stem and valve for both looks and puncture finding, but i've never even noticed tires have directions, then again i only ride 700x23c's which are almost all slick
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Old 01-30-11, 06:59 PM
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Same reason why you can read the logo on the hub through the rim's valve hole. Also to keep track of flats. Directional treads are just plain silly.
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Old 01-30-11, 08:59 PM
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I've run tires the wrong direction without knowing it. I've also run them the correct direction without knowing it.
So, go figure.

The only ones I run now that are that way are Continental Attack/Force, which are separate front/rear and are directional.
Still not sure it means that much.

As far as the label on the drive side centered on the valve?
I've done it that way since LBS ridiculed me for not doing it.
For me, then, it's because of humiliation.
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Old 01-30-11, 09:04 PM
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I know that in mountain biking some people install certain tires in the wrong direction to increase traction.
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Old 01-30-11, 09:14 PM
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I had a pair of WTB mountain bike tires in which the recommended front and rear tread orientations were opposite, presumably for traction at the rear and braking at the front. With road tires, I have never noted any difference.

Asthetically, I like to put my valve stems exactly 180 degrees across from the centers of the labels. This accomplishes the same goal of looking professional and helping to locate the source of a puncture.
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Old 01-30-11, 09:33 PM
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Yes, well, all these answers are what I expected, sort of. I'll grant that it may make finding a puncture easier but I've never had much trouble finding one. (Usually they find me!)

All my tires are installed "correctly" but it seems like much ado about not much. Which is to say, I do it that way because other people expect me to. (I don't mind being a conformist if that's what everybody else does.) When I'm riding neither I nor anyone else is likely to notice which side the label is on or how it lines up with the valve stem.

As for it being a sign that a professional cares about his work, ah, that sounds remarkably like "compulsory" to me. Considering some of the things I've seen some professionals do wrong, I'd just as soon they focus on more important things. (Which that's just my opinion, for all love.)

Thanks for the replies.
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Old 01-30-11, 09:39 PM
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Directional tires . . .
All my tires run great going forward.
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Old 01-30-11, 09:47 PM
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Hmm... If it makes you feel any better and more "off the hook" for doing it the "right" way, I haven't been into the whole road biking thing very long and have never really cared or worried about it. However, now that it was mentioned, I do think it might look a little more put together to put the labels opposite the valve stem. Just to balance out the look. I've thought about it for a split second when reading about it before and am actually slightly opposed to the whole label with the stem thing simply because I think it makes the tire look visually unbalanced.
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Old 01-30-11, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed View Post
Hmm... I've thought about it for a split second when reading about it before and am actually slightly opposed to the whole label with the stem thing simply because I think it makes the tire look visually unbalanced.
Except that the rim's label is usually opposite the valve stem. So putting the tire label there too lines it up with the rim label, and the whole thing becomes so unbalanced that you can't ride on it. Without falling off, that is.

In the old days tires didn't come with a direction arrow embossed in the sidewall. But I can't read 'em from the saddle. I'll afraid one day I'll get on the bike and start going the wrong way.
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Old 01-30-11, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
Except that the rim's label is usually opposite the valve stem. So putting the tire label there too lines it up with the rim label, and the whole thing becomes so unbalanced that you can't ride on it.
Ah, didn't think of that(I don't think any of my rims have labels). Well in that case I'm just back to not really caring.
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Old 01-31-11, 02:53 AM
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Although I usually mounted my tires correctly I never thought it made much difference until a ride a couple years ago. I had Bontrager 700 x 35 Select K tires mounted on my Trek 520 touring bike. As it was winter I had fenders installed on the bike. Snow had been on the ground for 3-4 weeks previously but was gone when I started an 80 mile ride. The road shoulder was muddy with a real fine, silty mud. About 15 miles into the ride I had a three mile descent. When I got to the bottom the bike felt like the brakes were dragging. After checking it over I realized that the front tire was mounted backwards, and as a result mud built up and was impacted on the underside of the fender. I scraped off and then turned the wheel around. Since it was the front, of course, I didn't need to dismount/remount the tire. The ride was fine from then on with no more build up of mud. I haven't mounted a tire the wrong way since.
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Old 01-31-11, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
When I'm riding neither I nor anyone else is likely to notice which side the label is on or how it lines up with the valve stem. As for it being a sign that a professional cares about his work, ah, that sounds remarkably like "compulsory" to me.
It's not conformity, its traditional. Clincher tires were very prone to flats and any help finding the source of a puncture is beneficial. And if you ride with a pack of veteran riders, they will notice at some point and maybe even comment on it. No big deal if they do. They won't try to drop you from the ride.

As GB suggests it's about being professional and deliberately not mounting tires this way as a statement of nonconformity doesn't make a lot of sense.

Guess you never shave your legs either
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Old 01-31-11, 07:08 AM
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Okay, so there's lots of support for the idea that the tire label goes on the right side of the bike, lined up with the valve. I get that.

And most of you say this helps find the source of flat tires. I don't get that. Or do you mark the right side of your tubes as well? I did that once, with a silver sharpie, but, as luck would have it, it didn't help me find the source of flats (on this particular wheel the problem was always on the rim strip side) and I haven't made a habit of it.
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Old 01-31-11, 07:30 AM
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I once was told I had my front wheel on wrong; the QR lever was on the wrong side.
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Old 01-31-11, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Kip View Post
... Since it was the front, of course, I didn't need to dismount/remount the tire.,,

awesome that you can reverse your front wheel without dismounting. =P seriously, kip's anecdote is a valuable one in terms of this discussion.

fwiw, you can still buy bi-directional tires, such as vittoria zafiro and maxxis re-fuse.

-rob
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Old 01-31-11, 08:18 AM
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If your hole is 10 inches from the valve and you don't remember which way the tube was oriented then yes you may have to check two possible tire locations. It still drastically cuts the amount of surface area and time you have to spend examining the tire in your search for what might be a minuscule piece of wire. Running your fingers around the inside may not do it for you. This has paid off for me more than a couple of times.
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Old 01-31-11, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
It's not conformity, its traditional.
My original post was asking "When did it become traditional?" Maybe it was traditional back in 1972 when I started riding but I sure didn't notice, and wouldn't have noticed one way or the other anyway. But, umm, isn't "tradition" a form of conformism?

Tradition includes steel frames with horizontal top tubes, does'n'it?

[I'm just pulling a few chains here.]
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Old 01-31-11, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
And when/why did it become "compulsory" to mount them with the label at the valve stem? A directional tread at least requires the label be on a particular side (and on the right only if the manufacturer made it that way). But I see no reason for the position other than style and perhaps convenience of reading the pressure when pumping up.
and so keeps us from using the time worrying about something else.
One should never discount the importance of ritual in human endeavor.
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