Mountain biking is a challenging sport that is sure to give you a rush. One of the best aspects of the sport is that it can be done in almost any terrain, so there are endless opportunities to be awed by stunning views. To get the most out of your MTB, you need it to be strong, well-put together, and able to withstand the rough terrain.
Generally, expect around 1000 miles from a standard tire, and up to 3000 miles from more high-end tires. The lifespan of your mountain bike tires will depend on the terrain they are used on and how often you use them. You have to be careful as you select your set of tires for your MTB because they’ll determine how well your bike handles.
This article takes a look at what you need to look for in mountain bike tires to ensure that you’ll always get a set that is durable and extremely high quality.
Average Lifespan for Different Types of Tires
There are many factors that are considered when determining the lifespan of your tires. Generally, tires can be grouped based on the terrain they are used on.
Generally, you can get between 1,000 and 3,000 miles of service from your standard tire. This large gap is a result of factors like the manufacturer and the tire thickness.
There are tires made especially for different tracks. These give you more mileage since they are working in their optimal conditions. Puncture-resistant tires, for example, thrive on gravel terrain. With these, you could get an average of 3,000 miles of service.
There are also tires manufactured for racers. These are focused on speed and not endurance, and you might have to replace them after an average of 1,000 miles.
Terrain Impacts Wear and Tear
The ground you ride on has an impact on how fast your tires wear out. Wear and tear is as a result of the friction between your tires and the road surface (traction), which leads to the treads on the tires wearing out.
If you ride your bike in fresh and soft dirt, your tires will maintain traction and wear out at a slower rate, giving you more mileage.
Riding in dry and rocky terrain will cause wear to show faster. This is because this setting asks for a lot from your tires due to the increased traction and by default, your tires will give you less mileage.
Signs of Wear and Tear
Some tell-tale signs will alert you of when your tire needs replacing. Here are some of the things that let you know whether your tires are in the right state.
- If the tire fabric shows through the rubber, this is a sign that replacement is due. The tire fabric is a protection belt that lies under the tire rubber. If you overlook this, it might cause a bang in the future.
- Tires that have lumpy and irregular bumps on the sides require a change.
- If you start getting flat spots, it could be because the thread has worn out and thinned. This means you need to replace the tire.
- The threads and sidewalls openly show signs of wear and tear. If the sidewall starts to thin, you might start seeing cracks and threads, which is a sign of neglect and age.
- If you see flat spots, tears, and punctures, then it might be a good time to start looking at replacements.
How to Make MTB Tires Last Longer
This section looks at some of the things you can keep in mind as you use your bike to ensure that you get optimum service form your tires, and for the longest time possible.
Proper tire pressure
If you don’t use the correct pressure, your tires’ milage reduces greatly. Riding on tires with low pressure causes the sidewalls to bend and lose their rigidity. This will cause the tire to wear prematurely. Check your tire pressure using a pressure gauge before you ride and adjust it if there is a need to. The recommended value is usually indicated at the sidewall.
Take your bike to a qualified bike shop frequently. Doing this will troubleshoot your bike tires and save you from an early replacement.
You can extend the life of your tires using patches. These will only work for a short while, though. If you find yourself patching the tire after every ride, however, you should consider replacing the tire altogether.
Avoid extreme conditions
Keep your tires away from heaters, since heat affects the air pressure inside the tire. You should also abstain from skidding and braking on rough surfaces like concrete and asphalt unless you have no choice.
Swap your tires
The front tire usually needs more traction. If you only replace one tire, put it at the front and then move it to the rear later. This hack saves you money, but be sure to swap them before the rear one wears too much.
How Often Should I Replace My Bicycle Tires?
Tires should give you around 3,000 miles of service. Your tires’ service term is dependent on a few factors:
Mountain bike tires are wider and thicker. This helps them endure the rough terrain. They also maintain a rounded shape which makes them less prone to flats. If you get frequent flats, you should replace your tire and not just the inner tube.
How you ride your bike will also have a hand in how often you have to replace the tires.
If you perform tricks like skidding and wheelies, the tread on your tires will wear off faster, warranting a quick replacement.
Swerving the bike during wheelies can cause wear on the sidewalls, causing bulges to form. This also reduces the tire’s lifespan and you will have to replace them.
When you ride your bike in harsh weather conditions and rough terrain like gravel, your bike is likely to get flats. Your tire can get flat due to gravel, glass, or hitting potholes with force.
Average Cost for Mountain Bike Tires
A set of mountain bike tires cost between $30 and $100. Some features affect the price, wheel size, width, and tread patterns. Downhill and competitive riders are more expensive and cost around $85 per tire.
Road bike tires also range around the same price, but the variation depends on whether the tire is puncture-resistant.
How Long Do Mountain Bike Tires Last on Pavement?
When ridden on the road, MTB tires last for a shorter while than they would if they were used on their intended terrain. This is because they have knobs for getting over bumps in the wood which would wear out on the road.
Can You Change Mountain Bike Tires to Road Tires?
Unfortunately, no, you can’t install mountain bike tires on your road bike. Most mountain bikes have 26-inch diameter wheels and road bike wheels are 24 inches wide. The wide MTB tire won’t fit on the road bike rims. However, some frames may be compatible with the tire.
Can I Put Gravel Tires on My Mountain Bike?
Gravel tires come in many designs, but most of them are created for optimum performance on a wide array of terrains. A standard gravel tire has the same size as a road bike, which is smaller than the MTB wheel. However, you can ride your mountain bike on gravel by increasing the tire pressure a little and lock out the rear shock. This provides you with more comfort.
Can You Put Cruiser Tires on a Mountain Bike?
Cruiser tires are used on sandy, snowy, and generally soft terrain. Most cruiser tires are balloon tires. These tires are usually 26 inches wide and 2.125 inches in width. Although the diameter is similar, most mountain bike wheels are 1.5 to 2 inches wide. There are cruiser tires that maintain the same diameter with different widths.
However, cruiser tires are ‘fat’ and this makes them slower, heavier to pedal, and harder to steer. This, in turn, deems them unsuitable for mountain bike terrains.
Can I Put Smaller Tires on My Mountain Bike?
It is possible to fit smaller tires on your bike. If you make this choice, ensure that the tire you choose has a diameter that is compatible with your wheel. A smaller tire, in this case, refers to an MTB tire that has the same diameter as your standard tire but has a width that is shorter than the recommended.
If you make this switch, there are a few differences that you are bound to notice:
- Your bike will be shorter by one or two centimeters.
- The reduction in size will cause large spaces to be seen in the fork, which might look odd to some people.
- As you ride your bike, you might feel more impact. This is because smaller tires don’t have the same shock-absorbing properties. However, you can solve this problem by opting for smaller tires with a flexible casing. this will improve how the tires absorb small vibrations.
- If you replace your wider tire with a smaller one with the same pressure, you will notice that the rolling resistance is higher. The rolling resistance is the energy lost as a result of the tire’s deformity as you ride. This higher resistance results in you moving slightly slower. You can increase the pressure on your narrow tire to make it more flexible so that the difference is barely felt.
- Quicker steering. With smaller tires, there is less contact with the ground, ergo less friction to resist steering. This is also built on by the bike’s smaller rotational inertia.
Can You Replace Just One Tire?
The rear tire tends to wear faster than the front. This is because most of the weight is rested on it and this means it has to work harder.
When it comes to making replacements, you can replace one tire and leave the other one out. This is sure to save you some money. If the rear tire wears out a lit more than the front, you can remove the rear tire and replace it with the front one, then install a new tire in front.
Some may say that it sounds more reasonable to put the newest tire on the rear wheel since it is the one that wears out the fastest. This should not be the case. Front tires need more traction to prevent them from sliding out, which could cause accidents.
Before you swap the front and rear tires, it is important to check if both tires have similar tread and width.
What is a Good Size Tire for Mountain Bikes?
Mountain bike tires come in either one of three diameters- 29 inches, 27.5 inches (more common on road bikes), and 26 inches. Tire widths range between 1.5 and 3 inches. The size of your tire is usually written on the sidewall. A tire with a 26-inch diameter and 1.5-inch width would be written as 26×1.5.
The width you choose depends on the type of riding you intend to do.
- Cross-country bikes use tires that are 1.9 to 2.25 inches wide.
- All-mountain and trail bikes have tires in the 2.25-2.4 inches width bracket.
- The tires on downhill bikes can be of any width up to 2.5 inches.
- Fat bikes use tires that are 3.7- 5 inches wide. These bikes can be used for all-season trail riding.
As you get your tires, you might want to consider getting wider tires. They provide more traction and better handling which gives you confidence as a rider. They also have a larger air capacity, which provides cushioning and absorbs vibrations.
However, some frames are incompatible with fatter tires. Before buying them, check with your bike manufacturer to find the largest tires you can use.
Should You Replace Both Tires at Once?
There are a few situations that could lead you to replace both tires:
- If you have been riding your bike for long, and both tires show the signs of wear and tear mentioned earlier, then a replacement is due for both.
- If you don’t monitor the tire pressure before you go on rides, low pressure can cause your sidewalls to wear and lose their rigidness, needing you to replace both.
Most of the time, however, replacing the rear tire with the front one and putting a new tire on the front wheel is enough.
Why are Mountain Bike Tires Tubeless?
Traditionally, the design of a tire involves fitting a tube into the tire and pumping it full of air. The tube exerts some force on the rim and the tire, giving support against the ground. It is common for these tires to get flats due to high impact (pinch flats) or piercing by sharp objects.
With tubeless tires, the tube is taken out of the picture. The tire is used with rims designed to allow the tire bead to lock directly into the rim. A sealant is then poured into the tire, creating an airtight seal.
Tubeless tires are preferred since there is less chance of getting pinch flats. The sealant also prevents you from suffering from punctures since it seals any holes made by pricks during your ride.