Old Bicycle Tires are Dangerous – Rider Beware

Old bicycle tire with sidewall blown out.

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Bicyclists should replace old bicycle tires before riding on them.  The tire pictured is a road tire on a mountain bike (26″ x 1.5″) and looked normal, with no damage.  It still had good tread that showed  very little wear.  I pumped it up like I always do and took the bike for a ride.  I rode about one block and back.  After I went inside I heard what sounded like a  car backfiring.

One of the neighbors who was walking by saw the tire blow and came over to  tell me about it.

I feel fortunate I wasn’t riding the bike down a hill or riding fast when it blew.  This was a front tire blowout and though it’s not particularly dangerous when riding at normal speeds on level ground, it’s extremely hazardous on downhill grades or when riding fast.

I’ve had sidewall blowouts like this while riding three times before:

  • Once when I was riding a bike that was over twenty years old and still had its original tires.
  • Twice while riding bikes that had sidewall damage to the tire.
Though the tread may look good on old bicycle tires they are still hazardous. This tire's tread shows almost no wear.
Though the tread may look good on old bicycle tires they are still hazardous. This tire’s tread shows almost no wear.

These tires were bought and installed about eight years ago.  I never considered their age.  Since the tires showed very little wear I never thought of them as old.  Spending a lot of time hanging on the back of my motorhome in the sun probably added more deterioration.

Inspecting the sidewalls of your bike tires for damage is a good practice, since that is what will give you the most problems with old bicycle tires.

If you have old bicycle tires on your bike you may want to change them now before you have an unexpected blowout.  Instructions for changing bicycle tires can be found here.

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About Greg Dickerson

I got my first 10-speed bike at the age of 14 and have been addicted to cycling ever since. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I've ridden the Seattle to Portland (STP) and Providence Bridge Pedal rides several times.  Due to having a traveling job, I've had the opportunity to ride in several states when away from home as well.

View all posts by Greg Dickerson →

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