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Old tires

Old 06-10-19, 08:00 PM
  #1  
hatrabbit
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Old tires

I've picked up a few older road bikes, mostly '80s touring bikes. I always wonder whether it's ok to ride on 30+ year old tires. These are 90-100 psi road tires, and sometimes they feel dry and a little rough on the sidewall but don't show any cracks. Yes I know it would be best to spring for new tires, but I'm not on an unlimited budget. They've got tubes in them, after all...
So what do you guys do in cases like this?
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Old 06-10-19, 08:13 PM
  #2  
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I think the biggest risk is of the tyre wall splitting under the pressure load, causing the tube to burst out. Long-term exposure to sunlight is the most punishing age-related effect on a tyre structure, especially with gumwall tyres. Or where the rubber has cracked and allowed UV and moisture to reach the webbing that way.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:13 PM
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Some cracks in rubber don't show until you flex the tire, either by hand or by riding.

Rubber that has turned hard and crumbly as plastic is useless and dangerous in my opinion.

I don't know what tire size you need, but $15 to $20 per tire is possible on eBay or other online stores. Tubes will bring that cost up a bit more.

Edit to add: Look up tires and tubes combos for sale.

Last edited by FiftySix; 06-10-19 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:14 PM
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They may start cracking when they flex from being ridden. I wouldn't plan any long rides on them.
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Old 06-11-19, 11:49 AM
  #5  
Wilfred Laurier
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Generally speaking, unless the casing is damaged and bulging, the tire is ok to ride. A damaged casing is one of the easiest things to detect - you can actually feel a wiggle in your saddle or handlebars.

However, nothing lasts forever. If I were you, I would pick the two best tires from the fleet of old touring bikes and use those. You can only ride one bike at a time so you could pick one as the 'rider' and the rest as 'parts' bikes.
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Old 06-11-19, 12:30 PM
  #6  
Bill in VA
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I find that any bike tire (and especially car tires since they are outside 24/7) will harden with age and make tracking less sure. Most are safe for many years, even with rubber cracks, but lose grip, especially in cooler weather and damp...

I rode a set of 27" hand made real Clement clinchers for years and after a 10 year non-riding hiatus in the basement, they were fine for another year, when I got back to riding, but rapidly began to develop fraying at the bead. I only did it because I could not find decent 27" tires that worked with non-hook bead rims. All the LBS has heavy Kendas that popped off at 70+ pounds. So I put the Clements back on. I finally found a set of Bontragers that were nice and would stay on the rim. Bought a new bike soon after that was 700C.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:00 PM
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If they hold air overnight, and arent showing any splits or bulges, I'll ride an old set of tires.
I usually do on a new bike 'find' while I figure out what condition the rest of the bike is in before i start taking stuff apart to rebuild / replace.

However, I won't ride them any farther than i'm willing to walk home, and any faster than i'm willing to crash.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
However, I won't ride them any farther than i'm willing to walk home, and any faster than i'm willing to crash.
Well said.
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Old 06-12-19, 08:30 AM
  #9  
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Old 06-12-19, 08:38 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
I won't ride them any farther than i'm willing to walk home, and any faster than i'm willing to crash.
Brevity is the soul of wit. +2

Having gone over the bar once, resulting in me spitting out pieces of 13 cracked teeth through a broken jaw that had a gouge down to the chin bone (they had to scrape road grit out of the bone) I'd say: pay a little money and get new rubber. New tires ride nicer, too.
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Old 06-12-19, 08:48 AM
  #11  
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How do you know the tires are as old as the bikes?
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Old 06-12-19, 01:21 PM
  #12  
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Buy some new tires. It's a no brainer.
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Old 06-12-19, 02:44 PM
  #13  
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Depends on the Rubber compounds... Hard Blackwall on my Suomi Nokian Studded tires
seems to store well those many months


between cold 0C days since the 90s when I got them..
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Old 06-12-19, 07:00 PM
  #14  
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How much would a trip to the ER cost? $50 for a set of new tires is cheap insurance. For goodness sake don't exceed 10mph and, don't do downhills.
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Old 06-13-19, 03:04 PM
  #15  
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The industry standard for rubber is 6 years.
Yeah, you can go longer, but its the most important single component on your bike, and tires are not expensive.

IMHO, 6 years is very conservative, but 30 years is dangerous - unless your willing to crash and hobble home.
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Old 06-13-19, 03:55 PM
  #16  
caloso
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
If they hold air overnight, and arent showing any splits or bulges, I'll ride an old set of tires.
I usually do on a new bike 'find' while I figure out what condition the rest of the bike is in before i start taking stuff apart to rebuild / replace.

However, I won't ride them any farther than i'm willing to walk home, and any faster than i'm willing to crash.
This.
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Old 06-13-19, 08:15 PM
  #17  
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Put a new tire on the front and leave the rear alone if you are that short on cash that you can't buy two tires. A flat or blowout on the front is much worse than a flat or blowout on the rear tire.
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