Have you ever ridden your bike with an injured foot? It’s not an ideal situation, right? Riding a bike on bad tyres is just like that.  The only part of your bike that is in constant contact with the surface is the tyres. And riding on less efficient bike tyres is just as uncomfortable and dangerous, as riding with a foot injury.

Little wonder then, that timely inspection and maintenance of your bike tyres are crucial for your bike’s performance and your safety. Always remember that a well-maintained tyre will contribute to exceptional ride quality, optimum safety and, of course, longevity. So then, how does one maintain their bike tyres?

There are certain factors that you can monitor to prolong the efficiency of your bike tyres. Regular inspections can keep the premature loss of tyre life at bay. Here are the things you should check regularly to understand the condition of your bike tyres. These pointers apply to all tyres, irrespective of the bike tyre price or category.

Ageing

→ There is no one way to define how a tyre will age. The ageing of a tyre is rarely measured from its date of manufacturing. This date is a 4 digit code present on the sidewall of the tyre, indicating the month and year of production. A tyre which is rarely or never used at all may also show signs of ageing. 

→ Ageing depends on multiple factors such as - 

  • climate
  • riding behaviour
  • load
  • speed
  • tyre pressure 
  • tyre storage 
  • maintenance 
  • type of road surface

→ Look for visible signs of ageing such as cracks on the sides or shoulder or the central tread. This applies to both the front bike tyre as well as the rear one.

Uneven Wear

→ If you notice your bike tyres are wearing out faster on one side while the other side is doing fine, it is time to get alert. Irregular wear is a sign of alarm that should not be overlooked at any cost. 

→ Uneven wear not only hampers the performance and gripping capability of the two-wheeler, but it also poses a safety concern for the riders. 

→ Unusual wear of the bike tyre tread at particular sections, the centre or shoulders, could be a problem related to the malfunctioning of mechanical parts such as worn out transmission, suspension, etc. Or, it could be related to incorrect tyre pressure or wheel imbalance.

To counter uneven wear, you should get your tyre balanced every 6 months from any bike tyre shop.

Damaged Tyre

→ Encountering abrupt potholes, speed breakers or blunt objects can put your tyre’s life at risk. The impact can put life-threatening dents on the tyre. The tyres can be rendered unusable due to deformation. 

→ A flat tyre should be left alone and not made to run. Don’t use damaged tyres either. Whenever you feel that the tyre is exhausted beyond repair, replace it. Consult a trusted tyre professional to ascertain that it cannot be used further.

→ Generally, it becomes mandatory to replace tyres when:

  • You notice visible beads or distortion.
  • The sidewall gets punctured. 
  • The tread rubber is deformed.
  • There are internal scratches due to running on low pressure.
  • A large cut or wear which exposes the carcass under the tread or at the side

TWI level

→ There is a small rubber block inside the groove of a tyre, known as Tread Wear Indicator (TWI). This is used to detect the tread wear of the tyre. 

→ If the tread has reached or crossed the TWI mark, you should get it replaced as soon as possible. Since the rear bike tyre shoulders the responsibility of the bike’s weight, it is also the one most affected. 

→ When the tyre reaches the TWI level, it means it has reached the legal limit of 1.6 mm and needs to be replaced. 

→Riding with tyres below the TWI level makes the vehicle lose grip. This may lead to serious safety concerns, especially under wet settings where traction and water channelling is vital to ensure stability.

Take care of your bike tyres as they take care of your safety. Just remember to check on them regularly for any signs of trouble.