Tire Mileage - CycleBlaze

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Tire Mileage

George Hall

A thread about the life expectancy of tires, especially touring tires.   Feel free to add your own experience and mention the brand/model of the tire.  

Before I started touring I rode narrower tires, and would usually get maybe 3-4 thousand miles out of a set.  Once I started touring, I discovered that I liked wider tires even when not on tour.  I've had 2 sets of Panaracer Tourgard Plus tires now that have each performed admirably for about 6,500 miles before I replaced them.  I rode the second half of my both-ends-to-the-middle Transam on 1 set of these, and continued using them for local commuting for a total of about 6,500 miles.  I rode the Western Express on another set and continued using them for bike commuting until I finally noticed the tread had worn thru to the flat protection layer after more than 6,500 miles.   And I rode the Northern Tier (4,300 miles) last year on a new set that look like they still have lots of life left in them, so I expect to get 2-3 thousand miles more before replacement.   I've been running the 38mm wide Panaracers - I was going to try the 42mm width on last year's tour, but supply chain issues made it hard to get any tires at all so I was happy to be able to get a new set of the 38mm version.    I've only had 1 flat on the Panaracers in about 17,000 miles, and that was caused by a particularly nasty goathead thorn in eastern Oregon.   Since then, I rode the Western Express and Northern Tier routes and did not have a flat on either route.

I have 2 touring bikes - doesn't everyone?  I bought the 2nd bike (a Fuji Tour) in Germany in 2019 to use for commuting to work and for lightly loaded day touring on the weekends.  I shipped it back home to Oklahoma, and since then I find it convenient to use it for training rides and local commuting and save my primary touring bike (Surly LHT) for the big tours.  Anyway - sorry for that digression - the Fuji has 35mm Vittoria Randonneur tires, and the odometer just rolled over 7,000 miles on today's ride.   They look OK still, so I think I'll probably get another 1,000 miles or so from them.   I've had 1 flat on them, from a shard of glass.  They are VERY hard to get on the rim - while I can usually mount a tire by rolling it on without tools, these tires require tools and a significant amount of effort and at least some mild cursing.  That may also be a result of the particular wheelset of course.  

So to sum up; I'm getting about 6,500 miles on a set of 38mm Panaracer Tourgard Plus tires (with most of that being fully-loaded touring), and 7,000+ miles from a set of 35mm Vittoria Randonneur tires.  I should mention that I rotate the tires after about 2,500 - 3,000 miles of use.

How does my experience compare with yours? 

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3 months ago
Keith AdamsTo George Hall

I don't know that I've ever really tracked the mileage I get from a set of tires.  And since I've done only limited loaded touring, the numbers I might have had from unloaded bikes (or from any of our tandems) wouldn't be exactly comparable.

That said: I do not recall having ever changed the tires on my Bike Friday.  It's currently got just under 3,000 miles on it if my records are anywhere near accurate.  I just swapped the tires around (back to front and vice-versa) in late December and I am guessing they're about halfway through their service life.  

But: they have not spent a lot of time carrying a fully-loaded configuration so take that projected 6,000 mile lifespan with a large dose of salt.  The tires are Schwalbe Marathons, 1.5 inch.

I'll be swapping them out for a fresh set just before I set off in July for a 4,200+/- mile fully-loaded ride.  Remind me in October to update this with how they fared.  :)

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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith Adams

You should have no problem getting your tour in with those tires, the same ones we use on our BF’s.  Ours were nearly new when we left Minneapolis for Rome last summer (well, three of them anyway - I tried to stretch the life out of an older one and had to replace it late in the tour).  Seven thousand miles later, Rachael’s tires both still have substantial wear left on them.  We’ll replace them all before leaving for our nine month tour this spring, but I expect they’ll last.

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3 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Scott Anderson

Thanks Scott- that's encouraging to hear!  I'll be trying to limit the number of burn-outs I do as I pull away from stop signs and stoplights, to prolong tire life.

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3 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo George Hall

I've never carried a bike computer, but I do like to estimate my annual mileage.  I'm sure my estimates are higher than reality, so you can take my comment for what it's worth.

When I bought my Long Haul Trucker, it came with Continental Contact II tires, so I assumed they were pretty good.   On my very first tour I got about six flats in the first two weeks.  They were all one one tire.   I did everything I could to find what caused them, including turning the tires inside out, but I could never find the culprit.

In Browning, Montana I met another bike tourist and we rode together for half a day.  Of course, I got another flat tire.  I told him about the problem I'd been having with the tire and we both rubbed the inside with our thumbs to find something--anything--that might be the slightest bit sharp.  I guess his thumbs were more sensitive than mine, because he felt something.  He said he couldn't be sure, and it was nothing he could postively identify--much less remove-- but he suggested putting an inner tube patch over that little spot.

Sure enough, I never had another flat for the next 1,000 miles.  Nor did I have one for the following few thousand miles riding around my home area of southeast Minnesota.

Before starting my next tour from Minnesota to Boston, I bought another pair of the Continental Contact II tires and I rode them for another 5,000 miles or so with only one flat tire.  I was sold on Continentals.  Perhaps that's because I couldn't really afford to test all the other tires out there, including the much beloved Schwalbe brand.

After that tour, I noticed some Continental Contact Plus tires in a bike shop.  I figured the "PLUS" would make them even better than the Contact IIs.  I don't know.  They looked exactly the same, and they also last approximately 5-6,000 miles.  Not all of those miles are fully loaded, but they include a lot of miles on gravel, snow and ice.  And it has been several years since my last flat tire.

I guess all of that is to say, 5,000 to 6,000 miles seems about right.  But I think I got close to 10,000 miles on my roadie bike with a pair of 23 cm. Bontrager tires.

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3 months ago
Mike AylingTo George Hall

I don't track my tyre mileages but our Thorn tandem (26" 559) and my Thorn Mercury (700c 622) came with Panaracer Paselas which wore well and only started to puncture near the end of their lives. I replaced them with Schwalbe Marathon Supremes which are still going well.

A thought for the tech nerds - 20"403 on the Bike Fridays are about 70% of the diameter and circumference of the 26" so should wear out more quickly than 26" and in turn 26" are 90% of 700c.

Any comments?

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3 months ago
George HallTo Gregory Garceau

I have found that the "Plus" designation is used (at least by some major tire brands) to indicate that the tire has a flat-protection layer.  This is a separate layer inside the tire that makes it harder for something to puncture all the way through.  The plus and non-plus version of the same tire look alike and have the same tread pattern and depth, so the tread-wear life should be about the same, but the plus version is less likely to have a flat.  Or so my own experience seems to indicate.  

You got pretty fantastic mileage on those skinny road bike tires!  I never achieved anything like that, usually I would replace my road bike tires in 3-4 k miles.  I'm not sure they were really wore out at that time, but most anytime after 3,000 miles when the tire was getting a bit worn, I would replace it whenever I had the next flat.  I definitely had a lot more flats on my road bike tires. 

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3 months ago
Mike AylingTo George Hall

I have a three strikes policy, when I get three punctures in three rides the tyre has to go!

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3 months ago
Kelly IniguezTo George Hall

I'm not fond of changing flats roadside (or anywhere!). When we leave on a tour, I always install a new set of Marathon Racers on my bike. Jacinto grumbles about all of the half used tires in our garage. The grumbled is now half hearted, as he can see it's ineffective. I'm not changing my ways!

I try to tell myself to put the old tires back on when I get home. It's difficult to motivate myself to mess with a perfectly inflated tire. My helmet off to those of you who rotate tires! 

With my recumbent, I'd guess I replace the rear twice for every one on the front. I don't track mileage . . . but am on the third rear tire since I ordered some very pricey Racers at the height of COVID-summer, 2020. 

Jacinto prefers the Marathon Plus tire and has used his until the blue protective layer is showing all the way around, like a skunk stripe. He gets several years out of each tire. It's a point of pride with him, how many miles he can stretch out of a tire. 

Similar to your Panaracer (I appreciate the good price), and the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, is the CST Sensamo. When Jacinto purchased his LHT, the shop suggested the CST as a cost effective upgrade, with the quality of a Schwalbe without the cost. He's purchased those several times since, and been happy with the quality.

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3 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Gregory Garceau

Tip: use a cotton ball when feeling around the inside of a tire for that mystery pokey thingy.  The cotton will snag on pretty much anything that projects beyond the inner face of the tire casing, and is therefore a pretty good (and sensitive) indicator of where the problem lies.

I assume that you take note of where a puncture has occurred, and check that section of the tire and rim extra-carefully.

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3 months ago