Question: I’m fairly new to road riding, and I’m having a hard time understanding when it’s best to replace certain parts or equipment. How do you determine when saddles, shoes and tires are worn out? – Beth A.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: You’ll develop a more refined sense of when it’s right to replace specific gear over time – and understand that you will surely have a timeline specific to you.
Take saddles, for instance. More than likely, you’ll be able to feel a difference when the padding starts to break down. And it’s definitely time to replace a seat if (for one-piece leather) it starts to sag in the middle (when viewed from the side), or when the cover has holes from crashes or you notice rubbing by the thighs.
Even the best saddles start to breakdown over time, so even if they’ve worn well and there are no obvious signs, the “feel factor” may tell you it’s not as supportive or firm as it used to be.
It’s time to replace shoes when the sole cracks, the heel counter breaks down and allows excessive pronation, or when the straps are too worn to stay snug. With boa closures, the filament may break, or the dial to tighten and loosen the wire may start to fail.
Some riders use a tire until the cord begins to show through the black tread or sidewall. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to wait that long. When the tread is that far gone, the tire is more susceptible to punctures. Never use a worn tire on the front wheel, where a flat is more likely to cause a crash.
On the flip side, some riders replace tires after spotting cuts that seem fairly deep – even though there’s still plenty of good tread on the tire. As long as you use a pick to remove any debris still in the tire, you should be able to get more miles out of a tire even with a few cuts it it, so long as those cuts haven’t penetrated all the way to the casing or kevlar belt under the tread.