I use an app from Feedback Sports to track when I install every component on my bike. I wrote a QT about it just about a year ago: Catalog Your Bike and Components for Maintenance. You can also keep track of components on Strava if you use that, which is great because you can see how many miles you’ve put on a bike.
Even though I do keep track of when I install my tires, I know that they’re not really a component I can accurately plan to replace at a certain interval. Where the rubber meets the road is the one place on a bike that can go from perfect condition to useless almost instantly if your luck is bad enough. We’ve probably all got at least one such tire story. Here’s one of mine:
I once rolled over some railroad tracks – same ones I ride over on nearly every ride I take of a certain distance – and somehow caught something that ripped through the sidewall of my front tire, flatting it instantly. Thankfully, I always carry paper money and a tire boot in my seat bag, and a dollar bill worked fine to get me home so I could install a new tire.
I’m not the kind of rider who wears my tires down to the nub. I do, however, take steps to “maintain” them to help prevent flats and get as much wear from them as I can.
First, I “clean” them after every ride by spinning them and then letting them run though the bristles of the door mat at my back door. (Three spins each, front and rear.) This little trick does a great job of cleaning off all the micro road grit than can adhere to your tires.
In addition, I regularly check the wear of the tires and every couple of weeks hold each one up to a bright ceiling light, turning it one complete revolution very slowly and closely inspecting for any serious cuts, especially, or imbedded wires and such. To close cuts, some riders like to use super glue.
For an even closer inspection, I use the flashlight mode on my phone, which casts a very bright, focused beam on the tire as I work my way around it. (I pretty well never find anything imbedded, as the spin through the floor mat bristles seems to largely remove such debris.) But on occasion, I’ll find something embedded that I need to use my pick to remove. Little wires from radial tires, especially, can work their way through a tire tread and prick the tube. That’s all it takes.
I always buy 2-4 tires at a time so that I have a regular stock on hand when it comes time to replace a worn or damaged tire. Again, you just never know when that time will come.
Finally, if one tire needs replacing, I’ll then closely check the status of the other tire and often “rotate” the still-good tire to the other wheel, depending on the wear of that tire and which wheel it’s on. Back tires wear fast and thus typically need to be replaced more often.
If you have an idea for a QT, fire away. We’re always looking for good info we can share with fellow roadies. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have. Contact us by clicking Quick Tips Ideas.
—John Marsh & The RBR Team