Tyres Tyres TyresDave Edgecombe
Everyone knows the benefit of good quality tyres, good mileage without sacrificing grip, adequate grip in the wet and dry for all round road use. On the race track it’s all about grip and not so much wear.
How do we know when they are worn out and in need of replacing? Obviously, we can see the tread disappearing and the grooves become shallow, those little dimples, (wear indicators) become a little more pronounced. Maybe there isn’t any tread left in the middle at all.
Just because you can see all the tread doesn’t mean the tyre isn’t worn out. Put the bike on a stand then slowly turn the wheel looking at the wear indicators. You may notice some are more pronounced than others, as though the tyre has high and low spots. This is more common on front tyres. The rear we normally see a channel or flat spot in the middle of the tyre, if you like your cornering then maybe at about 20 degrees from the centre line. On the front often this channel is more obvious on one side than the other and it’s uneven. Releasing your grip on the handlebars my cause them to shake.
At a glance all looks good, however looking closer you can see some, if not all, of these signs. What else don’t we notice about tyre wear? There’s something else to check which also affects your safety, handling and tyre life.
Take a close look at the sidewall of your tyres. Do you see any cracks or splits anywhere? If you’ve had a flat tyre and had to ride on it for some time you will probably have damaged the side walls. Some chemical sprays used to clean the bike will attack the tyre and cause cracking and splitting. Sometimes it’s just old age, it is rubber after all and degrades. If you see any signs of this, please replace the tyre immediately.
What about the way the bike handles? That’s an interesting one. I often have customers complain of how badly the bike handles, most will say to me I think I need to upgrade my suspension, or I think the frame is bent, the forks are not straight. Here’s a common one, “I’ve just replaced the rear tyre and now it handles badly”, the front tyre or both tyres never come into their diagnosis.
I always say, “let’s have a look at your tyres mate” and often I get a blank look followed by “oh the tyres are good”. Almost always the tyres are in bad shape. The front will have a channel in it at about 20 degrees from the centre and if you rub your hand over it you can feel it’s squared off and almost has a point on it as the tyre rolls over to the edge. Do you find you are fighting the bike to turn a corner and then suddenly it wants to fall over? The customer eyes light as I explain that’s the tyre rolling over that pointy bit. This is made worse still when the rear tyre has a flat spot in the middle.
We ride our bike every day and tend not to notice this effect because it happens very slowly over the life time of the tyre. You are used to it; you know the bike and adapt to how it reacts subconsciously over a long period until it gets to the stage it becomes a problem and suddenly, we are taking more notice of it. Sometimes it’s not noticed at all, the tyres are worn out and you fit new ones.
Riding off into the sunset you’re reassuring yourself you bought the right set of tyres, everything you read about them was right, they feel so good, much better than those other horrible things you had. And you’re probably thinking I won’t buy that brand again………
Unfortunately, it’s not the brands fault, and there’s nothing wrong with any of them to a point, it’s just that you didn’t notice how badly worn those tyres were and failed to pick up on how much it was affecting the way the bike behaved and handled. The fact is any new set of tyres would have given you the same result and feeling to a point.