Did you know that some bicycle tire brands such as Continental have tire wear indicators so that you can more easily tell when your tire is worn out and needs to be replaced?
See those two divots in the tire above? Those aren’t gouges from running over something sharp. Those are the tire wear indicators. This tire only has a few hundred miles on it and it still fairly new.
Here’s a view from further away. On Continental tires, you’ll probably find the wear indicator marks near where the tire name is printed.
When you no longer see those holes, it means that the tire has worn down to the point that it needs to be replaced. No guessing required!
Here’s Continental’s page about it, which also tells you which specific tires have the wear indicator divots. https://continentaltire.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/896/~/bicycle-tire-treadwear-indicator
Here’s how the tire wear indicators work with Schwalbe tires: https://www.schwalbetires.com/technology-faq/tire-wear/
Are there other major bike tire brands that have wear indicators that we left out?
Newer Michelin road tires also have wear indicators, such as their Power series.
Steve Castellano says
Tire wear indicators are a smart idea, likely borrowed from automotive tires. Unfortunately, my experience is that tires start flatting out long before I hit the tread wear limits. It’s not uncommon for me to ride well-know brands for 2,000 trouble-free miles, then get two flats on the same wheel in a short time. Wear indicators show that I supposedly have more miles left. If flats occur like this, I usually replace the tires in advance of what the wear markers indicate. Just the same, watching the indicators all through the riding season enables some level of predictability on tire replacements.
Kerry Irons says
In my experience flat frequency is pretty random and doesn’t correlate with tire mileage. Road bike tire treads are pretty thin (0.06 inches = 1.5 mm for a Continental Gran Prix series) so losing that little bit of rubber could only affect flatting if somehow your local “flat vectors” are just a tiny bit longer than that reduction in tread. Too many other factors are the flat causes that are just random.
For general reference, those without wear indicators on their tires can know that when the Conti wear indicators are gone, you can just start to see the casing threads through the thin remaining tread. So that can be the message of when to change tires regardless of whether you have wear indicators or not.
Ollie Jones says
My Specialized “Turbo Pro” tires have those wear indicators.
Doug Kirk, Madison, WI says
Shortly after Continental started using the wear indicators I bought a pair and returned them to the LBS thinking they were defective. Unfortunately, the LBS wasn’t aware of them either so refunded my money. Not sure what they did with the tires. It was Fred or Jim in RBR that answered my inquiry about them and let me know that they were intentional.
I bought them for half price. Thanks!!
As previously stated the Continental 4000s2 and now the 5000 are shot needing replacement long before the wear indicators are gone. Here in Austin TX my rear tire gets covered in small cuts with tire left by the indicators. Also all previous Continental Gran Prixs mounted moderately easy by hand. The 5000 are much tighter and I struggle sometimes when I flat out of town. So I’ve been buying up 4000s2s x25 that I can find on eBay. I won’t ride any tire I have to use levers to mount which can pinch the tube. No I’m not going tubeless!
Dave S says
Helpful article, as the intent of the wear indicators is not obvious. When I first saw them, I thought they might be part of the manufacturing process (like ejector pins). How would anyone know? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reference in a tire installation guide.
I normally replace road tires when I accumulate a number of cuts, especially if the cut are long enough that sealant might not seal (I only run tubeless). I also regularly inspect and remove any embedded glass and debris.