Tire Wear

When is a tire worn out?

In bicycle tires the tread is far less important than for instance in car tires. So using a tire with a worn out tread is less of a problem, that is of course with the exception of MTB tires.

When the puncture protection belt or the carcass threads can be seen through the tread the tire has reached its wear limit and must be replaced. As the puncture resistance also depends on the thickness of the tread layer it may be useful to replace the tire earlier.

The sidewalls of tires often fail before the tread is worn out. In most cases, this premature failure is due to prolonged use of the tire with insufficient inflation pressure. Checking and adjusting the inflation pressure at least once a month with a pressure gauge is most important.

What mileage can be achieved by the various tires?

It is difficult to answer this question, as mileage is influenced greatly by tire pressure, load, road surface, temperature and the rider. For example, when used in hot weather with a heavy load and on rough asphalt, a tire wears much faster.

As a general guide, you can expect a tire mileage of 2000 to 5000 km from Schwalbe standard tires.

The tires of the Marathon family usually last between 6000 and 12000 km. With the light Marathon Racer and Marathon Supreme, the performance is a little lower (approx. 5000 to 9000 km). The Marathon Plus is outstanding with its extremely high mileage of approx. 8000 to 15000 km.

No useful mileage data is possible for MTB tires because the influence of riding style is too dominant.

Our racing bike tires Durano and Ultremo last from 3000 to 7000 km.

Why do many tires wear prematurely?

Unfortunately, many tires do not reach the possible mileage because they are continually riden at inflation pressures that are too low. Insufficient inflation pressure means the tire cannot bear heavy loads.

The tire flank must deform excessively when running. The tire can only stand this kind of treatment for a limited time. At some point the sidewall is overburdened and will fail.

fatige cracks
Fig. 1 shows the typical fatigue cracks which arise from low inflation pressure. A few large cracks in the upper area of the sidewall.
Fig. 1

aging cracks
Fig. 2 shows compared to this, normal aging cracks that are rather small and distributed evenly across the whole sidewall (due to old age and/or poor rubber compound).

Fig. 2

These pictures also show clear symptoms of continued riding with insufficient inflation pressure.

tire abrasion Typical abrasion: The tire is not bald in the center but on the left and right sides.
Typical walk traces in the tire. Typical walk traces on the tube.  

How long can a tire be stored?

SCHWALBE tires can be stored for up to 5 years without problem, but to attain this they should be stored in a cool, dry, and, most importantly, dark place. When stored properly, even longer storage times may be possible.

If fitted on a rim, tires should always be inflated or the wheel hung up for storage. A bicycle left on flat tires for an extended period may damage the tires' sidewalls.