A Pin Punctured My E-Bike Tire – What Should I Do?
I’d say, there are three degrees of E-Bike tire damage:
1, Pointlike damage like small pin can be ignored entirely. The tire will work the same as before the damage.
2, Cuts large enough for you to bend the rubber away far enought to be able to shine a light through the puncture. Such a tire won’t fail immediately if you reuse it, but it may fail sooner than you like due to some small stones working their way into the pre-punched hole, and then proceed to destroy the tube inside.
3, Cuts large enough that they weaken the inner structure of the tire, allowing the pressure in the tube to push the hole open. Such a tire needs immediate replacement.
Of course, the lines between these three cases are a bit blurry, but I think this is a useful classification.
When to change your E-Bike tire
We all know that E-Bike tire don’t last for ever but exactly when do they need replacing? Here’s how to tell when the time has come for a new pair.
There are essentially five parts to a clincher tire (standard tires that use inner tubes, held in place by a bead that hooks to the wheel rim, as opposed to tubulars that are bonded to the wheel):
The supple body of the tire, made of nylon (usually) in various numbers of threads per inch (TPI), that’s covered in rubber.
- Protection Layer
Manufacturers sometimes use various different types of material underneath the tread to provide resistance against punctures.
The compound that comes into contact with the ground.
The bit around the edge that secures the tire to the wheel rim. These are made from wire or foldable Kevlar.
- Anti-chafing strip
The reinforcement that protects the bead.
Most road bike tires will go through their lives without experiencing too much in the way of trauma, but you might hit a pothole, a big stone, or some other obstacle that causes damage to the structure, or something might ping up from the road surface.
“A casing breach of any size in the sidewall/ 2mm under the tread would usually render a tire disabled and ready for replacement,” says Shelley Childs of Cambrian tires, the company that distributes Continental bike tires in the UK.
“If you hit a pothole and feel the wheel rim has made contact with the road surface, then there is a chance that the tire sidewall (casing) has been breached, even if there is no air loss of the inner tube. Stop and check.
“Also, if you ride over something that causes an obvious bump or jerk to the handling of the bike, your tire may have been damaged, even if you don’t suffer a puncture. Again, stop and check just to be safe.
“If you do see a tear anywhere on the exposed surface of the tire (tread or sidewall), inspect it thoroughly and try to see if the inner tube is visible. If so, the tire is unsafe. If not, then the casing should still be intact and you can ride on, but get the tire checked by your local dealer just to be sure.”
Check the wheel too.
“If the tire/tube survives a pothole smash then it’s essential that after you’ve checked the tires you should also check your rims to make sure that their structure hasn’t been compromised,” says Schwalbe’s Dave Taylor. “A dented rim or displaced spoke can cause unwanted friction for tire and tube which could lead to a puncture on a later ride.”
Tread wear indicators
Most often, though, tires simply wear out gradually with use due to contact with the road.
Some tires come with tread wear indicators that tell you when it’s time for a replacement.
Continental road tires, for example, now have two small ‘tap-holes’ in the central area of the tread. These are designed to disappear as the tire nears the end of its serviceable life. Once the holes are gone it’s time to bin the tire, no matter how tempting it is to try to wring a bit more life out of them.
If you’ve skidded your bike it could be that the tread wear indicators are still intact but you’ve worn through the tread in another area. You need to change your tire in this situation.
What are E-Bike tire wear indicators?
Some road tires have a wear indicator molded into the tires. For Continental brand tires, they have 2 dimples molded into the bottom surface. When the dimples disappear the tire is worn out. Other tire manufacturers use different types of wear patterns.
What if your E-Bike tire don’t have tread wear indicators?
“A tire will change its shape slightly once it has worn out,” says Shelley Childs. “As well as affecting the handling of the bike slightly, it will no longer look round in the cross section [as above], it will look more square, as the tread area has worn significantly.
“If your tire had a tread pattern, this will have disappeared and in extreme cases, you may even see the casing material showing through.“
Dave Taylor says, “When the puncture protection belt or the carcass threads can be seen through the tread the tire has reached its wear limit and must be replaced. As puncture resistance also depends on the thickness of the tread layer, it may be useful to replace the tire sooner.”
If your tires don’t have tread wear indicators, repeatedly getting flats from small stones and pieces of glass is an indication that the tread could have worn thin and it’s time to replace your tires.
If the protection layer or the casing is showing through, it’s definitely time for some new rubber.
A tire’s sidewalls will sometimes fail before the tread is worn out.
“In most cases, this premature failure is due to prolonged use of the tire with insufficient inflation pressure,” says Schwalbe. “Checking and adjusting the inflation pressure at least once a month with a pressure gauge is most important.”
The sidewalls may be damaged if a bike is left on flat tires for a long period. If fitted on a wheel, tires should be inflated or the wheel should be hung up for storage.
If the bead is damaged and is blown off the rim when you inflate the inner tube, you need to replace the tire.
Swapping front and rear tires
Your rear tire will invariably wear quicker than your front tire. Some people will swap over the front and rear tires after some use to make sure they wear out at roughly the same time, but Shelley Childs doesn’t think this is good practice.
“It is not advisable due to the change in handling characteristics of each tire as they become worn,” he says. “A rear tire will be square, whist a front tire more rounded. To put a worn rear tire on the front wheel would negatively affect the handling of your bike.”
Schwalbe’s Dave Taylor isn’t so opposed to the idea.
“This is really up to the individual rider and takes into account things like their own budget, riding style, riding distance, and riding surfaces,” he says. “You would want fresh rubber front and rear for a gran fondo, for example, but would settle for a front and rear swap for your daily commute.”
Should I replace both bicycle tires at the same time?
You do not need to replace both of your bike tires at the same time. A lot of people wear one tire or the other out faster depending on how they ride. If one tire is worn bald but the other tire looks fine, then by all means, only replace one tire. If you are going to a completely different tire or tire style, you may want to replace both of them. A bike with a road tire on one wheel and off road tire on the other wheel may handle pretty weird.
Why do E-Bike tire go flat when not in use?
Rubber has porosity to it. Over time air leaks out through the molecular sized holes in the rubber. Just like the tires in your car lose air over time. Your bike tires lose air over time also. There is nothing you can do to stop this. You should regularly check the air in your bike tires to make sure they are still properly inflated.
Do I need a new E-Bike tire or just a tube?
You went for a bike ride and got a flat tire. If the tire has lots of tread left, it’s most likely time for a new inner tube. If the tire is worn down, the tire may have contributed to the flat tire. Take the inner tube out of the tire and inflate it to check for leaks. Either use a patch kit to fix it or get a new tube.
If your tires are set up tubeless, you don’t need a new tube. Look for a puncture or cut somewhere in the tire.
I hope this has helped you learn when to replace bike tires. If your tires are worn down, having handling problems or getting lots of flats, it’s time for new bike tires.
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