The other day I was talking to someone who was surprised that bike tires wore out. “You have to replace those?” she asked me.
Well, I suppose if you only ride on them a few times a month or so, no, you’ll probably never notice that your tires wear out. But if you use them a lot, you’ll eventually notice that the surface of the tire, where it hits the road, starts to wear thin. And then instead of simply seeing the rubber of your tire, you start seeing the “casing,” the usually nylon fibers that run through it to keep it from stretching.
If you keep riding it, it ends up looking like this tire that I just pulled from my trailer:
This is a dead tire. Can you see the hole in it? That’s not because I ran over anything that punctured it; it’s because I neglected to notice that I needed to replace the tire until I literally wore through it. I do not recommend this approach to tire replacement. Generally it’s nicer to replace the tire before it explodes.
If you look towards the upper right of the picture, you can see what it looks like when the casing starts to show but before you have a full-blown hole. That’s definitely the point where you should be thinking “wow, I should have replaced my tire a few weeks ago!” Beyond that point, you’re just tempting fate to blow your tire out at some inopportune time. Like when you’re already late for work or when you’re screaming downhill at 45mph.
So, yes. Tires do wear out, and it’s a good idea to inspect them every so often to make sure you’re not heading toward imminent tire death. Definitely if you can see the casing, get yourself the heck over to your local bike shop and replace those suckers.
I’m pretty psyched to have some brand spanking new tires on my Burley. Time to go places!:)