11 Signs that your Bicycle Tires have Worn Out

11 Signs that your Bicycle Tires have Worn Out
11 Signs that your Bicycle Tires have Worn Out

Cycling is one of the best forms of sports that we all enjoy or enjoyed at some point in our lives. Even today, many people prefer a bicycle for commuting over other vehicles.

Only a few people live away from their lives without knowing about cycling, and frankly, they are missing out. 

Cycling is also a staple part of your child’s growth and development. They spend most of their childhood on their bikes than their feet.

So, it is natural for the bikes to go through much wear and tear with time.

The bicycle tires are the most wearable part of the bicycle. You have to change those innumerable times during the period of riding.

Bicycle Tires
Bicycle Tires (Source: Pixabay.com)

But how do you know when your bicycle tires get worn out? How do you know that it’s time to replace them?

Usually, the rubber of the bicycle tire has a lifespan of 5 years at maximum. 

According to mileage, most rear tires of road bikes wear out in the range of 1,500 to 3,000 miles. Front tires wear out in between 2,000 to 4,000 miles. Rear tires wear out faster since they carry almost 60 percent of our weight.

Here are 11 signs that your bicycle tires have worn out and, it’s time to get new ones:

1. Worn Out Treads 

Treads are the compounds on your bike that come in contact with the ground. So their wearing is the most specific clue that you need new tires.

When the tread area has worn out significantly, your tire will no longer look round in cross-section. It will look more-or-less square.

Also, the puncture protection belt on the carcass of your bicycle tire is spotted easily through a worn-down tread.

Many bicycle tires use different types of tread patterns. With the repeated use of your bicycle, the tread patterns start to disappear.

When they disappear without a trace, it’s a telltale sign that your tires have worn out.

Nowadays, many tire manufacturers come up with tread wear indicators themselves. 

For example, Continental tires have two small 'tap holes' in the central part of the tread. They start to disappear with the wearing of the tires.  

2. Cracked Sidewalls

The sidewalls of the bicycle get made up of rubber which starts to show cracks over some time. It might mean that:

  • Your tire is old because the lifetime of the rubber is usually five years.
  • You have not used the tires for a long time.
  • You stored away the bikes with flat tires for a while.
  • Or, you are riding the bicycle on low-pressure tires.

You may be able to ride your bicycle with cracked sidewalls of tires a few times. But, if your bicycle tire has cracked sidewalls combined with over 80 PSI of air pressure, you need to replace them as soon as possible.

Mature, Platt, Flat Tire, Bicycle Tire, Flatfoot
A Flat Bike Tire with Cracked side Wall (Source: Pixabay.com)

If you wish to protect your tire from wearing out for a long time, make sure to check and adjust the tire’s inflation pressure with a pressure gauge at least once a month. 

3. Constantly Recurring Flats

Repeated flats on your old bicycle tire may occur within a week or on a long ride. An increased number of tire flats means that your tire’s tread has worn down very thin. 

A thin tire tread cannot protect the tube inside from debris, glass shards or, stones. Thus, resulting in more wear and tear.

There are several more reasons for your tires to be flat more often. Read the following article to understand in detail: Why do my Bike Tires keep going Flat?

4. Exposed Casing

A tire casing, when exposed, looks like a series of diagonal threads all over the tire. It happens due to the continuous use of tires with discernable tread patterns.

After the tread patterns wear off, the nylon threads, which reinforce and shape the casing, start to wear off.

It is too risky to ride a bicycle with such tires because the casing cannot contact the road. Look closely for an exposed tire casing on your tire.

If you find any, throw away the tire and get a new one immediately before riding the bicycle.  

5. Flat Spot in the Center

Most road tires don’t have a discernable tread pattern so, another telltale sign for a worn-out tire is a flat spot along the center of the tire.

Since the middle part of the tire comes in contact with the ground, it gets worn down quickly. 

Using the tire on a stationary trainer speeds the formation of a ridge along the center. You may notice you get more punctures, difficulty maintaining speed, and unpredictable cornering while riding the bike due to the flat spot in your tire.

6. Decreasing Depth of the Tread/Knobs

The central knobs mostly come in contact with the ground while riding. So they are the ones indicating when the tire has worn out.  

You can measure a knob/tread from the center to determine its depth.

A new tire knob usually has a depth of 3mm to 4mm. You don’t have much to worry about when the knob depth falls to 1-2mm.

But, when the knob depth falls below 1mm, the tire is worn out to extreme conditions and is no longer usable.          

In some models of tires, depth can be different. So, don’t forget to check the manufacturing guide to confirm.

Also, side knobs have a longer lifespan than the central ones. So, do not consider the knobs on the side in your measurement as they can be misleading. 

7. Holes and Cuts

The sides and edges of the roads are full of debris, stones, or sometimes sharp objects. Your bicycle tire may not get immediately punctured by them.

But over time, those nicks and cuts build up, eventually ruining the tire.

 So make sure that any of the holes do not penetrate the casing. And if they already have, it means your tire has completely worn out. 

Also, keep in mind that any tube inflated to 100 PSI will make the holes bigger, leading to a puncture and shortening the tire’s life span.

8. Damage to Bead

A bicycle bead gets fixed in a groove or slot in the wheel. If the inflation pressure on your old tire is low, it may cause the bead to pop off. It may cause the tire to burst, which may lead you to sustain some injuries while riding.    

If the bead gets damaged and gets blown off the rim while inflating the inner tube, it is time for you to throw out the old tire and get a new one.

9. Squaring Off

A squared-off tire is a red flag. It is a visible sign of your bicycle tire slowly wearing off.

Squaring-off is more common in the rear tire than the front one due to the extra weight on the rear tire. It usually starts in the center while the knobs at the side are fine.

Bike, Wheel, Handlebars, Background, Mountain Bike
A Bike Tire starting to square off (Source: Pixabay.com)

Squared-off tires need a lot of maintenance. They are slower than regular tires. It is wiser to get new tires than go through all the hassle.

10. Poor Ride Quality

Even if you fail to see any visible signs of wear and tear in your bicycle tire, you can determine it by analyzing the bicycle’s performance. You may feel that your bike is slow or heavy or cornering is twitchy and unstable.  

In such cases, it is better to ride with heavy all-weather tires that are puncture-resistant. Light tires, in comparison, wear out faster. So, you will have to fix more flats and replace the tires quicker. 

Honestly, it can get a little expensive. 

11. Presence of Bubbles, Bulges, and Deformities

Bulges are the most common signs of tire wearing. You may notice a regular bump on one of your rides.

Or you may discover a bulge (particularly on the sidewall) in the tire before riding. The tires may burst anytime, causing an accident. You have to replace the tire immediately.

While riding in hot weather, you need to be extra mindful of the old tires. The rubber tends to soften and melt, exposing the casing and the tube.


Finally, if you have been riding for a long time, you know that blowouts are common in old bicycle tires.

But, did you know, tires can wear out even if you don’t ride them?

If you have stored the bike for more than a few months, check the tires before riding it again. The wear may not be visible instantly but, you can discover it if you look closely.

The rubbers may have hardened and cracked over time. The sidewalls may have rotten and separated.

You have to be careful not to ride the bikes in such conditions yourself and not let your kids ride such bikes too.

Be careful and ride safe! 

Furthermore, if you are thinking about making your bike tires puncture proof, here is an article to gather some essential information: How to Make Bicycle Tires Puncture-Proof?

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