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Front and rear tires

Old 07-18-13, 12:28 PM
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Front and rear tires

One thing I've often wndered about is why the same tires are used for both the front and rear. When I look at my tires the rear always wears more than the front. The rear tire also drives the bicycle; while the front tire simply rolls. It seems to me that the forces on the the tires are quite different.

Some roll down tests have shown that tires with flexible sidewalls are faster than those with stiffer sidewalls, but does that mean that they are better at driving the bike; that is transmitting power? I wonder whether it might be better to put a tire with a flexible tire on the front wheel,and one with a stiffer sidewall on the rear.
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Old 07-18-13, 12:34 PM
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I think the main reason the rear tire wears faster is it has a heavier load. That's why many times, there are more spokes on the rear wheel.
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Old 07-18-13, 12:36 PM
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Second set of tires, on Your Bike You Choose ..

Rear tires wear more because that one has the pedals turning it to go forward, acceleration..
The friction is what connects the tire to the road.


and people skid a bit when the put the rear brake on,
or the physics of braking, deceleration, also has a shear force with the pavement, abrading the rubber.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-18-13 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 07-18-13, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dpeters11
I think the main reason the rear tire wears faster is it has a heavier load. That's why many times, there are more spokes on the rear wheel.
Agreed. I rotate front for back to even the wear and hopefully get more miles out of tires.

Another bit of feedback, I have seen some racers run a 23 front and 25 rear. My son is an amateur racer and claims he has more stability in corners with this setup.
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Old 07-18-13, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by look566 rider
I rotate front for back to even the wear and hopefully get more miles out of tires.
You may want to rethink that. A better practice would be to put a new tire up front and if you want to get more miles out of the remaining front tire, move it to the back. Do not put worn tires up front.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:10 PM
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My question isn't just about wear of the rear tire, but its function of transmitting powere from the rider. It seems to me that rear tires could be designed differently than front tires. Front tires support less weight and roll; rear tires drive the bike forward.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
My question isn't just about wear of the rear tire, but its function of transmitting powere from the rider. It seems to me that rear tires could be designed differently than front tires. Front tires support less weight and roll; rear tires drive the bike forward.
In that vein, check out Mavic's tire system, Yksion front Aksion rear tires.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by tagaproject6
You may want to rethink that. A better practice would be to put a new tire up front and if you want to get more miles out of the remaining front tire, move it to the back. Do not put worn tires up front.
Have had no trouble in my years of doing this. Rotate them just as the rear tire starts to show a flat spot. The tires usually get hosed by cuts before they get to their useful life expectancy anyway.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
My question isn't just about wear of the rear tire, but its function of transmitting powere from the rider. It seems to me that rear tires could be designed differently than front tires. Front tires support less weight and roll; rear tires drive the bike forward.
Check out continental tires and how they have designs that are different for the front and back.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by look566 rider
Have had no trouble in my years of doing this. Rotate them just as the rear tire starts to show a flat spot. The tires usually get hosed by cuts before they get to their useful life expectancy anyway.
Just because it has been working for you does not mean it is sound advice. Now, if you meant put the new tire up front and the worn tire to the rear...that's different.
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Old 07-18-13, 01:55 PM
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Never rotated tires, but use a larger size on the rear.
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Old 07-18-13, 02:01 PM
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Buy a tire with thicker tread rubber to mount on the rear . then there is more to wear down..

some MTB tires like those for tractors have a tread for steering , and another one for traction force..
to pull the Plow. or get you up the hill of dirt.

To be realistic..
designers design , consumers consume what gets made..

doubt anyone that does the tire design , working for the brands that all know of, here ,

spends time answering the forum, to give their motivations for their design features,

just people saying what they bought.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-18-13 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 07-18-13, 02:06 PM
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Why not just have stiffer tires front and rear. That way, assuming more power is transferred with stiffer tires, total power transferred is greater. When I power pedal (stand up to pedal harder) I noticed the front a rear tires flexing because of increased load. Then again, at higher pressures this goes away completely or is just harder to notice.
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Old 07-18-13, 02:50 PM
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Back 35+ years ago when I first started serious riding, and before steel-belted radials on cars leaving those *%&#@$ wires, I found that my rear tire wore about twice as fast as the front. That made things simple - replace the rear once, then replace both, replace the rear, replace both...

Now I never wear a tire out - it gets cut/punctured much more often and I end up replacing them much sooner! Tubes only get patched once.

One thing that I do to improve the 'ride' is to lower the front pressure a but. With my 27x1-18 tires, I run 90psi front, 105psi rear. (or 85/100 depending on tire brand)

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Old 07-18-13, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
One thing I've often wndered about is why the same tires are used for both the front and rear. When I look at my tires the rear always wears more than the front. The rear tire also drives the bicycle; while the front tire simply rolls. It seems to me that the forces on the the tires are quite different.

Some roll down tests have shown that tires with flexible sidewalls are faster than those with stiffer sidewalls, but does that mean that they are better at driving the bike; that is transmitting power? I wonder whether it might be better to put a tire with a flexible tire on the front wheel,and one with a stiffer sidewall on the rear.
The friction between the contact patch of the tire and the road is what drives the bike. A stiffer sidewall will just resist the deformation that is going to happen anyway, so I don't think it would do much but waste rider energy.

There are plenty of things you could do to make the front tire wear out at a faster rate to match the rear (like using a smaller cross-section or wheel diameter), but there isn't much point or interest in doing that on diamond-frame bikes, and having mismatched wheels would add some complication to the system.

I just content myself with running the front tire at a slightly lower pressure for comfort, and doing the front-to-rear/new-tire-on-front rotation to get the most possible life out of each tire. (That also frees me from having to think of tires as just "front" or "rear".)
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Old 07-18-13, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
One thing I've often wndered about is why the same tires are used for both the front and rear.
Some manufacturers have made tires designed for front and rear have been around for years and years, nothing new.
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Old 07-19-13, 11:04 AM
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There is one difference between front and rear tires that is huge: puncture frequency.

Since the rears get more punctures, and are more work to repair, I put an armadillo on my wife's rear tire.

Sheldon Sez:

Well-meaning cyclists, even some mechanics who don't know any better, sometimes try to deal with this [disparity in tread life] by swapping tires, putting the less worn front tire on the back wheel, and moving the worn-but-usable rear tire to the front. The idea is to equalize the wear on the two tires, but this is a serious mistake, don't do it!
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Old 07-19-13, 03:46 PM
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I'm just glad nobody tried to suppose a front wheel drive bike.
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Old 07-19-13, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by dpeters11
I think the main reason the rear tire wears faster is it has a heavier load. That's why many times, there are more spokes on the rear wheel.
This... and the fact that you are applying power to the rear wheel.

They have made front and rear tires for years. I used to run a heavier lugged tire on the rear with a smoother tread tire on the front of my paper bike, needed the traction for dirt paths. For most of my riding I prefer to run the same tire front and rear, saves money in the long run in that I only have to deal with one tire at a time. When the rear wears out I move the front to the rear and put a brand new tire on the front. I may buy two brand new tires, then start the rotation again.

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Old 07-19-13, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by look566 rider
Agreed. I rotate front for back to even the wear and hopefully get more miles out of tires.

Another bit of feedback, I have seen some racers run a 23 front and 25 rear. My son is an amateur racer and claims he has more stability in corners with this setup.
On a bike wear is wear. The reason to rotate car tires is to make a tire last longer by reducing the affect of uneven wear across the tread from a particular wheel. This is not an issue with bike tires. On a bike, there is no advantage in rotating the tires - it doesn't buy you anything.

Last edited by GeneO; 07-19-13 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 07-19-13, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood
My question isn't just about wear of the rear tire, but its function of transmitting powere from the rider. It seems to me that rear tires could be designed differently than front tires. Front tires support less weight and roll; rear tires drive the bike forward.

As some have mentioned several manufacturers make front and rear tires, like the Mavic system with a supposed longer lasting tire in the rear and one with more grip in the front. I am using a set as we speak. Higher pressure than some others I have tried, 135 to 140 PSI. I find they roll very well and better than my old Gatorskins but not much better than 4000s. Still I believe there are best bought in sets of three. Two for the back and one for the front. I have also tried the 23 in the front and 25 in the back and they do seem to last a bit longer. I also like Vittoria Proslicks for rolling even if they aren't that light. The Schwalbe Ultremo ZX is ultra light, rolls well so it might be considered a performance tire. I know you weren't looking for just a long lasting tire because they are all heavy and anything but performance. But as it may be mentioned by others you can have performance or you can have longevity but you can't get both. You can also look for performance in high pressure 700X22s. But even if you get tires designed for the front and rear you should consider buying three, two for the back and one for the front.
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Old 07-20-13, 07:31 AM
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Hi,

Stiff walls increase rolling resistance and slow the bike down.

The rear has more of the weight, thus more rolling resistance.

: Road bike
I have a 30mm near slick rear for good rolling and a lower
pressure 32mm semi slick front for more grip and suspension.

: Folder
Both 47mm. The rear is a raised centre slick section trailer
tyre with thin walls - boy does it roll compared to standard.
Front lower pressure decent road tyre.

All tyres have puncture protection and reflex.

rgds, sreten.

Last edited by sreten; 07-20-13 at 07:39 AM.
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Old 07-20-13, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
I'm just glad nobody tried to suppose a front wheel drive bike.
The venerable French company "TA" was started in the 1930s around that very idea (TA is an acronym for traction avant, French for "front drive") but the idea never made it to market and TA became a very successful component and accessories manufacturer instead.
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Old 07-20-13, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
I'm just glad nobody tried to suppose a front wheel drive bike.
Originally Posted by JohnDThompson
The venerable French company "TA" was started in the 1930s around that very idea (TA is an acronym for traction avant, French for "front drive") but the idea never made it to market and TA became a very successful component and accessories manufacturer instead.
Still do and yes the front tire wears faster than the rear. We have a Cruzbike dealer here in town, they also happen to be my LBS of choice. I have test ridden one, but not for me, at this point.

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Old 07-20-13, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by sreten
Hi,

Stiff walls increase rolling resistance and slow the bike down.

The rear has more of the weight, thus more rolling resistance.

: Road bike
I have a 30mm near slick rear for good rolling and a lower
pressure 32mm semi slick front for more grip and suspension.

: Folder
Both 47mm. The rear is a raised centre slick section trailer
tyre with thin walls - boy does it roll compared to standard.
Front lower pressure decent road tyre.

All tyres have puncture protection and reflex.

rgds, sreten.
Ooooops ..... looks like I have some competition for being the resident non-conformist!

The most recent hybrid /mtb builds run 700x40c semislicks in back at 65PSI and 700x50c semislicks in front at 35PSI. Overall performance is annoyingly good. Annoying because its so much better than some other bikes that I spent a whole lot more money on!
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