When it comes to regular bike maintenance, bike tires often don’t get the attention they deserve. However, many seasoned cyclists know that bike tires are essential components. No other part of the bike has as much influence on performance and safety as the tires. You should include tire maintenance and replacement as part of your cycling routine.
How much does a bike tire cost? Cheap tires can run $10-20 while tires of higher quality can cost more than $30. Prices for high-end tires can be $80-90 or more. The price of bike tires depends on the type of bike, size, quality, and brand or manufacturer. The total amount you pay in the store might include shipping costs that retailers incur.
Bike tire manufacturers include many features in their products that can improve performance, handling, comfort, and style. Buying bike tires might seem like a daunting task considering the different types available. However, a little information about your bike and your riding preferences are all you need to choose the right tires at the best price.
Costs of Different Types of Bike Tires
Road bike tires can run as low as $15 each, but the cheaper ones will be of lower quality. You can pay up to $80 or more, depending on how picky you are about color, quality, style, or brand. Some of the more expensive tires tend to be more durable and have puncture resistance, which might be worth the higher price. Road tires should last about 1000-3000 miles.
Mountain bike tires range from $30 to $99 each, depending on size, width, knobs, and tread patterns. The more expensive tires tend to provide a better ride and allow for more traction on climbs and tight corners. Higher-quality mountain tires also have more knobs on the tread to protect against flats. You can get 3000-8000 miles out of a mountain tire.
Commuter or hybrid bike tires usually cost $30-50 each. The price point can depend on the tire’s durability and the inclusion of unique features like Kevlar lining to protect against punctures and flats. Some commuter tires have reflective sidewalls for better visibility. Commuter tires can last about 4000 miles if you maintain them properly.
Cruiser bikes have “balloon” tires that cost as little as $15 each. Balloon tires are wider than other tires. They offer better stability and can accommodate heavier riders. They also need lower air pressure, which makes the ride smoother and less bumpy. These tires also come in a variety of colors to match the bike frame.
How Do I Make My Bike Tires Last?
Use the right size and type.
To find a tire’s size, look for the marking on the side. You’ll see a measurement like “26 x 1.5” or “700 x 25c,” depending on the type of bike. The first number is the wheel and tire diameter, and the second number represents the tire’s width. By the way, the “c” in a 700 x 25c size is a French metric and doesn’t make a difference in measurement.
Inspect your tires when they’re new.
Once you install your new tires, don’t ignore them. Check them before each ride to monitor changes in the tread and to spot glass and other sharp objects that could cause flats. Continue to inspect your tires before every ride so you can detect any changes.
Check for wear
Do you notice a string of flat tires, maybe several in one week? If so, your tires are probably no longer functional. Frequent flats often occur because the tire tread is too thin to protect from sharp objects that can puncture the tire. You also might see some “squaring off,” which is when the tread on the top of the tire flattens, which can slow down your ride.
Use the right tire pump
The best tire pumps (see Amazon) have a built-in pressure gauge. Make sure the pump’s nozzle can accommodate the valves on your tire. Your inner tube comes with either a Schrader valve or a Presta valve. Whereas a Schrader valve is wide and flat on the end, a Presta valve is narrow and has a locking nut that you can tighten or loosen.
Inflate to the proper pressure
If it’s hard to pedal your bike, your tires might not have enough air. Under-inflation is another common reason for flats. Road tires need 100-130 pounds per square inch (psi). Keep mountain tires at 25-35 psi for maximum performance. Commuter or hybrid tires should have 40-70 psi.
Check your tire pressure before every ride
Bike tires always leak air, which is why you should check the pressure before you go out. Air pressure can decrease overnight with a large temperature drop. Develop a habit of topping off your tires, and make it a part of your pre-ride routine. Also, check the pressure the day after you use a carbon dioxide canister for a repair.
Do not not ride your bike
In other words, when you leave your bike stored away or unattended for months or years, the tires will eventually crack and harden. This kind of damage also just happens with age. If you do have cracked or hardened tires, replace them before you take your next ride. Don’t forget to replace the tubes as well.
Check for bulges
As you inspect your tires, look for any bulging or bubbling on the tire surface. Bulging is a sign that the tire is weakening and will soon tear, which could result in a blowout when you’re speeding down the road. Blowouts are loud and can lead to crashes, which you want to avoid.
Are you happy with the way your bike performs?
If pedaling becomes a challenge, you might want new tires. If you ride a road bike, consider switching from 700 x 28c to 700 x 23c if you’re going to improve your climbing and acceleration; that’s because the 23c tires are a little lighter. If you desire more comfort and control on your commuter, change to wider tires.
Rotate your tires to make them last longer
You’ll wear out your rear tire sooner than the front one because the rear bears most of your weight. If you prefer to replace both tires at the same time, rotate your tires occasionally. Just be sure not to put a worn tire on your front wheel; doing this will compromise your traction.
Is it worth spending more money on bike tires?
Consider your budget and preferred type of riding when deciding how much to spend. However, keep in mind that the tires are what connect you to the road, and they’re crucial to how well you handle the bike. High-quality tires can be expensive, but they also can make a difference in safety, performance, and overall cycling enjoyment.
What will happen if I ride on a set of tires for too long?
Checking your tires is easy to forget, but not inspecting them can create headaches in the long run. When you use a tire for too long, the tread will wear through and expose the threads of the casing beneath it. The casing is not strong enough to hold the tire together and can result in a blowout.
Related Article: How Long Does a Road Bike Helmet Last?
What if my tires are fine, but I just don’t like them?
If your bike tires don’t work for you, replace them. Even perfectly good tires might not allow you to ride the way you like. Many mountain cyclists have this challenge, especially if they need different tires to go downhill or ride off-road. Maybe you want to keep up with your cycling group and need better tires to increase your speed.
What if I don’t know how to shop for or install bike tires by myself?
There’s nothing wrong with getting service and help from a bike shop you trust. On your next trip, be sure to bring some information you’ve gathered ahead of time, such as the tire size you need, how much tire pressure you typically use, and what kind of riding you do. You can also bring in the old tire to be sure you get the same size. It never hurts to write down the information before ordering anything at a bike shop or online.
What are tubeless tires?
When you want to worry less about flats, and you crave extreme terrain, tubeless tires might be for you. As the name suggests, tubeless tires don’t require a tube because they work with the wheel rim to form an airtight seal. Tubeless tires are currently available for mountain bikes, and some will soon be compatible with road bikes.
What are directional tires?
Some mountain bike tires are directional, which means the tires are front- or rear-specific. Each tire should have a marking or arrow to indicate whether it goes on the front or the back wheel. Directional tires are popular among some cyclists because they provide better traction and control.