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Bicycle Wheel Care

Keep Your Bike's Wheels in Tip Top Shape with these Tips and Best Practices

Riding electric bikes has become a very popular alternative for many urban travelers in the US. This is because biking can be plenty of fun. And when you have the opportunity to hit speeds around 35 to 45 miles per hour without anything between you and the pavement, you may feel like you can fly.

You may know that in addition to its light environmental footprint, an e-bike is a great cost-saving alternative to using a car. Also, it is an excellent way to incorporate regular exercise into your everyday routine since riding a bike can be quite the workout and will keep you fit.

However, note that despite its several advantages and conveniences, electric bike ownership has a few less-than-fun aspects. And one of these aspects is maintenance. There is no doubt that most parts of an electric bike, such as a motor, are vital for its optimum functioning, but one of these parts is important with respect to both safety and functionality: the e-bike tires.

Whether you are exercising or commuting, or exploring the trails, it is essential to make sure that you take good care of yourself as well as your bike. And having high-quality bike tires is essential as it can keep you safe and comfy as you ride on the road. An often-overlooked or ignored part is the wheel of your bike. If you ensure that your bike wheels are frequently maintained, it will help you minimize repairs while extending the life of your e-bike.

Although handling, traction, and control are crucial, your bike tires should also resist punctures and offer good wear. They should also withstand ozone, sunshine, and rain as well as survive the abuse of any striking potholes, steel grates, debris, and stones.

Here are some best practices and tips you should consider when maintaining your bike tires.

Maintain the Correct Tire Pressure

As a rider, you may often go for several weeks without pumping enough air into your bike tires. Although it seems quite obvious at first, keep in mind that not regularly putting air in the bike tires can often cause severe damage, and you don’t want that. Depending on your level of experience, you may be able to determine your PSI (pounds per square inch) with simply a quick pinch of your bike tire.

If you are not, you may be a bit surprised to know that e-bike tires have to be checked more frequently than tires on your car.

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is essential for many reasons. For example, when the air in your tire is low, it may feel as though the tire is constantly sticking to the road or pavement, which can be a nuisance in itself. And that is not all; riding on tires with low air pressure is likely to damage the rims.

As a result, you may have to buy new wheels much sooner than would otherwise be necessary. This is why it is crucial that you keep 40 PSI (at least) while the maximum should be 60 PSI. It is worth noting that the lower end of 40 to 45 PSI is perfect for speed and comfort.

Did you know that most mountain bike tires are usually rated for 25 to 50 PSI? In contrast, road tires are often 80 PSI to 120 PSI. If you’re a regular rider, you should get used to pumping air into your bike tires each time that you ride or on a weekly basis (at least).

You can quickly check if your e-bike tire is properly inflated by pinching both sides of your wheel; it should ideally feel firm to the touch. And if you are going on a long ride and would like to be on the safe side, then you may also buy a pump with a gauge. It will tell you the exact air pressure in the tire.

Make sure that you stay within the recommended pressure range for your e-bike tire to allow for the best performance. Are you a heavier rider? If yes, you should preferably stay in the high range of the air pressure in order to be on the safe side. This is because your body weight is also an essential factor in the strain exerted on the bike tire.

Regularly Inspect Your Rims

You should know that rims often go unnoticed, especially when bikers assess the cause of a tire puncture. Also, note that as your bike rims degrade, you will start to lose the braking ability. Although rims should ideally last a considerable period of time, you cannot ignore them.

Many bike owners make the mistake of neglecting to pay due attention to their bike rims, instead opting to focus all their efforts, time, and money on more visible parts of the e-bike. The first and most important thing is to look at your rim and carefully examine it for any visible signs of advanced wear. Note that this often manifests in the form of a concave depression, usually in the middle of the rim.

You should also look for any grooves on the sides of your rims. Dirt caught up in your brake pad can cause grooves, causing the rims to fail prematurely.

And if you have recently had a flat bike tire that was not caused by hard impact or a sharp object, you can inspect your bike rim for the following:

  • First, make sure that your rim tape is smooth as well as flat around the wheel; it should not be bunched.
  • Carefully check to determine if the rim tape is adequately covering every spoke hole on the surface of the rim.
  • You should also inspect the valve hole carefully and all the edges of your rim where your tire is held.

Have you noticed any of the above issues? If yes, fix them before mounting the tire. It is also important to file any sharp edges and replace your old rim tape. Refrain from using electrical and other household tapes in order to cover the rim. Usually, they don’t provide the adequate protection needed to prevent a puncture.

Clean Your E-Bike Tires Regularly

One important task that many bikers can do to extend tire usage is to simply keep the tires clean! Whether you are a casual or hard rider, you will likely put your electric bike through a lot of work. And remember that like any other kind of machinery that’s responsible for a heavy workload, you have to clean it every once in a while.

You know that one of the biggest parts of your tire is the rubber. Also, depending on the specific tread, it may carry plenty of dirt and debris. You can clean the rubber with a biodegradable bike cleaner. You can also use dishwashing liquid.

First, you should get a clean rag and some lukewarm water and carefully remove all the dust and dirt particles that are stuck to the wheel. Don’t make the mistake of using devices like hoses as they may exert excess pressure, which might damage the bearings. And if mud is caked up in your bike wheels, you may also use an excellent wire brush in order to help remove this caked dirt.

After you have done this, go ahead and thoroughly clean the rim of your wheels. This is important as it will help you easily identify any rusted spots that you may have to lubricate. Regularly cleaning your bike tires will help keep them in great shape and also help you quickly identify a puncture and the need for more air.

Use a Wider Tire

Do you ride or commute frequently on rough roads? In this case, a wider tire may be an excellent option for you. This is because the higher volume of air in the tire will help resist impact punctures and pinch flats that are quite common on rough roads.

However, there is one tradeoff to a wider tire. It is the increased weight that you will have to support. But unless you are climbing steep gradients or racing, this will not make a big difference in your daily commuting.

Use Tires Appropriate for the Terrain

If you are a frequent rider, you must not use your e-bike on terrain for which it is not intended. So, if you own a road bike, keep in mind that your tires aren’t appropriate for use on rough terrain. Did you know that there are 4 different kinds of tire grip that you can choose from? These include slick bike tires, inverted tread tires, semi-slick tires, and knobby tires.

Manufacturers design slick bike tires for the road as well as urban commuters that have cruiser beach bikes. The best thing about semi-slick tires is that they provide minimum rolling resistance and quicker acceleration. Note that knobby tires are best for biking trails, whereas inverted tread tires offer a lot more grip.

You should know that road bikes are often built to be more aerodynamic and lightweight. This enables easy usage on most flat surfaces. However, it is worth noting that riding your road bike frequently on various rough surfaces may cause the wheels and rims to gradually wear down. This can increase your risk of a puncture.  

One useful tip that can extend the life of your electric bike tires is to physically inspect them. You should check whether or not your tires rotate smoothly without sticking.

And when they rotate, are they wobbling, or do they rotate straight? During the inspection, if you observe anything unusual or strange, it might be time to have your e-bike professionally serviced.

 

Choose the Right Inner Tube

Have you decided to use a wider bike tire? If yes, make sure you are using the right inner tube as well. It is worth mentioning that inner tubes, just like tires, have widths. If you purchase a tire with a width of 25 mm but have an inner tube with a width of 23 mm, the rubber of your tube will likely be spread too thin, which will increase your risk of a flat. It is vital to use the right size tube in order to match your tire and be safe.

Also, you should be wary of race-light inner tubes. Although these tubes are lighter, they do not provide you with the same protection and safety that the more economical tubes made from thicker butyl rubber.

Average Lifespan of Bike Tires

Although many different factors usually affect tire lifespans, and it’s not very simple to tell the exact lifespan, there’s still an expected average. Typically, you can expect to get about 1,000 to 3,000 miles out of an average tire.

As you can see, the mileage variation is quite significant, even on average. You should know that one of the best ways to ensure that your tires will last a long time is by purchasing puncture-resistant tires.

The best thing about puncture-resistant tires is that they might last up to 5000 miles as they are made from high-quality materials. On the other hand, lightweight tires or tires made of soft or thin materials will likely last for about 2000 miles or less. For example, many special racing tires are very minimalist and tend to focus on speed. This is why they only average about 1,000 miles or less.

Storing Bike Tires

You may not live in an area where you can cycle throughout the year. Inevitably, it means there will come a time when your e-bike is forced to retire for a few months. Many riders typically toss their bikes in their garage, attic, or basement. However, you should know that improperly storing your electric bike will likely damage its valuable tires.

You will be happy to know that we have made it relatively easy to ensure that you are ready to roll whenever the time comes.

Preparing Your Tires for Storage

It is best to start by cleaning the bike tires of any grime, dirt, or gravel that is stuck in the tread. You may know that some manufacturers, such as Continental, recommend that you use a combination of soap, water, and a good tire brush to achieve this. On the other hand, some manufacturers, like Michelin, suggest that water alone is enough.

Regardless of what you use, you should carefully inspect your tires for excess cracking, wear, or other visible signs of damage while cleaning. After that, make sure that your bike tires are dry. It is worth noting that a popular method for storing bike tires involves wrapping each one in a secure airtight plastic bag, like a lawn or leaf bag. After that, close the bag tightly with tape.  

This method is effective as it not only blocks harmful UV penetration but it can also help lower the evaporation of valuable waxes and oils that your tires need.

Suitable Places to Store Your Electric Bike Tires

You should know that most bike professionals and tire manufacturers recommend the same ideal storage conditions for bike tires. You should store bike tires in an area with low humidity and no light. The place should not be susceptible to extreme cold or heat.

So, if you’ve the available space, some suggestions are an indoor closet, drawer, cabinet, or even under your bed. While attics and garages are always good options for storage, depending on the overall climate in which you live, sometimes, these locations may subject your bike tires to potentially problematic or extreme temperatures. And if you have any vents or windows in these places, you may unwittingly expose your tires to UV rays.

However, don’t worry as there is another popular option. Depending on where you live, you can store your tires in your basement, which may solve the temperature fluctuation problem. If you are storing your tires in the basement, you should keep them away from various ozone-emitting devices, such as electric motors or generators, switches, furnaces, sump pumps, and hot pipes.

Warning Signs of Worn or Aging Tires

You can do several things to make sure that your bike tires are still in good shape. Here are some things you have to remember when checking your bike tires and then deciding on a suitable replacement time.

Check Your Treads

There is no doubt that one of the best ways to determine how well your bike tires are doing is to check their treads. Note that treads are the dips in the rubber. Treads are hard to check on bikes, particularly on racing bike tires. You should take a photo if possible. This will help you compare how their look changes over time.

And for tires without treads, you can easily examine the contact patch. Keep in mind that this is a protective layer that goes over the bike tire. It is carefully designed to come in contact with the pavement or road while you ride. Among some other subtle indications, you will likely notice this when your bike tires begin to get worn out.

Cracked Rubber

Did you know that rubber tends to become brittle with age? It can be quite dangerous if you don’t replace it. If you see cracks appearing (usually they start appearing on the sidewalls), it is best to throw away the tire and buy a new one.

Flats

Another important indicator that your bike tires are close to the end of their life is a notable increase in flats. Note that as the rubber starts to wear away, there is less cushioning between your tire tube and the junk and sharp objects on the road.

Criss-Cross Threads

You will see a piece known as a protection belt under the rubber of your bike tire. This is usually woven from carcass thread in either a crisscross or diagonal pattern. Note that if this pattern is visible on any part of your tire, you will have to replace your bike tires pretty soon.

Holes and Cuts

Often the edges of roads are full of all types of junk and debris. This is especially true after rain. And even if you do not see a puncture, it is likely that you will notice a steady build-up of minor nicks and cuts. You should check to see if any of the holes have managed to puncture through the casing. If they have, you might have to replace your bike tire.

You should also lookout for any sidewall cut or tear, especially near the bead of your bike tire. And this may cause a blowout. You should discard any tire with a compromised casing (especially near the bead) immediately.

Final Thoughts

Replacing your bike tires frequently can offer you some peace of mind, taking away stressful moments. Maintaining your bike tires is one of the best and most affordable ways to make your bike tires last longer. Each feature of your electric bike was designed carefully to deliver the best riding performance and experience.

Protecting, maintaining, and keeping your electric bike tires, particularly new ones, in top shape will help extend their lifecycle. It is no secret that proper tire care and maintenance save you considerable money in the long run. This is because you do not have to replace them very often. Regular maintenance of your bike can entail having a specialist check your bike tires and air pressure during tune-ups. They can make a recommendation or estimate the number of miles left in your tires based on your specific riding style.

When your bike tires wear out, you should look for high-quality and durable tires to replace your old ones. Trading your old tires in before they are dead will help keep you from getting injured or stranded. This is why the peace of mind is worth it knowing that whenever you go riding, you will not need to worry about the tires.


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