Damaged or worn out tyres drastically reduce your ability brake fast and control the bike. At this time of year, as the roads grow icy, it's especially important that they're in tip-top condition. Here's how to know when it's time to change yours...


Tyre Anatomy

  • Casing - This is the flexible body of the tyre that comes in various threads per inch (TPI). This is the main body of the tyre which is then covered in rubber. This is normally made from nylon.
  • Protection layer - To provide puncture protection, different manufacturers will use various types of material as a lining underneath the tread.
  • Tread - The rubber compound that comes in contact with the road surface.
  • Bead - The ridged stem around the edge of the tyre that locks the it to the wheel rim. This is made from either wire or foldable Kevlar.
  • Anti-chafing strip - Supporting strip that protects the bead.
A worn out bike tyre



Checking For Wear- What To Look Out For?

Checking your tyres on a regular basis is important to reduce the chance of repeated flats whilst out on the road and increase your safety.


For the most effective inspection of your tyres wear, it is advised that you take the tyre completely off the rim itself. This means you can fully check the tyres tread, sidewalls, bead and on the inside surface of the tyre for wear and debris that could potentially cause a puncture or further wear to the tyre.



Checking The Tread

The tread of the tyre is the rubber compound that comes in direct contact with the road surface – this means the tread is made out of a more durable compound as it comes in for the most amount of abuse. The tread can show the first sign of wear as it is in constant contact with concrete so checking it on a regular basis is a good idea.


Once you have taken the tyre off the rim, examine closely the tread on the outside of the tyre without forgetting about the inside. A good way of doing this is to run your finger carefully along the inside and outside of the tread checking for intruding debris. Look out for certain points that may have exaggerated wear caused by skidding – this will show wear that is inconsistent with the rest of tyre and could mean that it will need to be replaced.


Glass, flint or other debris can become lodged in your tyre and cause punctures and speed up the rate at which your tyre deteriorates. If you find debris in your tyre remove it and assess the size of hole it has left, if the wear to the tyre is significant then recommend that you change your tyre. Checking for debris early can reduce the risk of punctures and improve your safety on the road.

A bike tyre damaged by a sharp object


The sidewall of the tyre needs to be both resistant, strong and flexible & supple for ease of attaching the tyre onto the rim. This means it can sometimes wear faster than the tread itself so checking it regularly is advised. Wear can normally be noticed when the ‘criss-cross’ pattern of the sidewall shows through the outer-casing of the tyre. This is a sure sign that you need to replace the tyre.

A bike tyre showing signs of sidewall detrioration

Checking The Bead For Damage

As the bead of the tyre is made out of either wire or foldable Kevlar, it is normally quite resistant to damage or wear. However, hitting a pot-hole or a pavement curb can cause damage, and normally when the bead gets damaged, it’s time for a new tyre. This is because the bead is used to hook the tyre onto the rim, so if there is any damage, then the tyre will not attach correctly.



Tread Wear Indicators

More often than not your tyres will have a tread wear indicator which is a good suggestion that your tyre is coming to the end of its life and a new one is needed imminently. The tread wear indicators are normally in the form and two very small circular ‘tap-holes’ on both sides of the contact tread the tyre has with the road surface. These indicators enable you to gain an idea of the how long your tyre has left and whether you need to change them soon.

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