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Bike tire storage is an often-overlooked aspect of bicycle ownership, yet it is crucial for ensuring optimal tire performance and longevity.
You might be thinking, why do I need to store my tires carefully?
Storing your tires incorrectly can lead to damage, deformation, and irregularities that compromise your safety on the road or trail, as well as reduce the tires’ lifespans.
By taking the time to store your tires properly, you can prevent these issues.
How Long Do Bike Tires Last In Storage?
New tires can last up to about five years in storage according to various sources, including Schwalbe on its bicycle tire wear page.
As you might expect, this duration is affected by the way you store the tires and the types of bike tires in question.
Tips For Storing Your Bike Tires
There are tips and tricks you can use to maximize the lifespan of your stored bike tires.
Store In A Dark, Dry Place
Heat, humidity, and sunlight all cause rubber to deteriorate over time, so it’s best to protect tires from this in a cool, dry, and dark place. A basement works well.
Prolonged UV light exposure damages the elasticity and flexibility in a tire by breaking down the chemicals within it. That’s why tires are best kept in the dark.
Ozone cracking also shortens a tire’s lifespan. This refers to a breakdown in the molecular structure of a tire’s rubber compound when exposed to O3 gas.
It’s harder to protect against ozone exposure, but keeping tires away from electrical equipment and lighting helps, as does flexing the rubber of tires periodically.
Unfold Tires (Especially Handmade)
Many bike tires are foldable and they’re sold and delivered in their folded state. It’s best to unfold these tires before storing them for any significant period.
This applies particularly to handmade tires or tubulars that have a separate tread bonded to the tire casing. The glue is placed under strain if the tire is left in a folded state for long and may begin to detach.
Storing handmade tires in their rounded state is a good idea, either on hooks in your garage or on an old wheel rim. It’s also wise to unfold and hang vulcanized tires.
Video: Storing Unfolded Bike Tires On Ceiling Hooks
Keep Away From Chemicals And Solvents
Keep tires away from chemicals and solvents. Chemicals like gasoline, oil, and cleaning solutions can all damage rubber, so it’s vital to keep your bike tires away from them.
This is a particular concern when storing tires in a garage or workshop where such substances may reside. Dedicate an area to your bike tires and tubes. Bike tubes have similar storage requirements to tires.
Latex tubes are especially sensitive to UV rays, so it’s best to keep those packaged up and in the dark.
Hang The Wheels Or Bike
If you’re thinking about suitable ways to store and preserve tires on a bike, for instance over winter, it’s better to hang the tires up on the bike or the wheels. This is in preference to letting the tire go flat on the ground.
You can store tires on a standing bike provided you keep the tires adequately inflated. A bike standing on flat tires can damage the structural integrity of the tire, as mentioned by Continental in its mounting and care instructions for clincher and folding tyres.
Video: Hanging A Bike By Its Wheels
Don’t Keep Washing Your Tires!
Bike tires contain waxes, antioxidants, and antiozonants, which are designed to protect tires from natural degradation (including by ozone concentration).
If you incessantly wash tires while they’re in storage or because you want them to look like new, you are purging them of these built-in protectants.
Flexing the tire occasionally helps bring these elements to the surface of the rubber and may delay ozone cracking in a standing, mounted tire. The best way to do this is to ride the bike, even if it’s around the block. New, unused tires are less of a concern.
Rotate Your Tires
Rotating your stored bicycle tires is an important step in maintaining their condition over the long term. When tires are left in the same position for extended periods, they can develop flat spots or wear unevenly, leading to a shorter lifespan.
This idea also helps prevent damage caused by ozone, which attacks the surface of tires when they don’t move, eventually causing cracking in the sidewalls. Regular rotation will help resolve this.
Additionally, regular rotation can help you identify any potential issues with your tires before they become more serious, keeping you safer while riding.
Use Tire Covers
Using tire covers on bicycles can be beneficial in several ways. They can protect the tires from dust, dirt, and debris, which can cause damage and wear over time.
Additionally, tire covers can prevent scratches and scuffs, particularly if the bike is stored in a crowded or shared space.
Perhaps most importantly, tire covers protect your bike tires from a damp concrete surface or a surface that is potentially contaminated with spilled chemicals.
Overall, tire covers offer a simple and effective way to protect your bike tires and prolong their lifespan.
Separate Faulty Tires
If you’ve ridden a tire and something’s gone wrong with it, such as sustaining a puncture or cut, don’t just hurl it alongside healthy tires.
Ask yourself if you’re likely to use that tire again and if not take it out of your bike tire rotation. At the very least, create a separate stack of tires that are damaged, ready to be patched up as soon as possible.
Make sure you always have a healthy stock of tires in storage, rather than a mishmash of great tires and unusable ones.
Maintain A Cool Temperature
Although advice on optimum storage temperature for tires varies significantly, our advice is to aim for between 41°F (5°C) and 59°F (15°C).
The above is based on the low end of a recommendation by Michelin and a statement from Continental. If you have no control over the temperature tires are kept in, room temperatures of 68-77°F (20-25°C) should be fine (once advised by Continental).
This need for low or modest temps arises partly because tires continue to cure or vulcanize at higher temperatures, albeit at a much slower rate than during manufacture. And this hardens the tread.
Rubber gradually absorbs moisture over time, which causes rubber tires to eventually deform. For this reason, always make sure your tire storage space is ventilated.
A storage space like an attic or utility room with vents is a cheaper and more eco-friendly option than using dehumidifiers.
Avoid storing tires in a shed unless you’re able to ventilate it or are willing to regularly open doors and windows. Sheds are notorious for attracting a build-up of moisture and condensation. They’re also likely to become too cold over winter.
Storing Bike Tires: FAQs
How Do I Store Tires With Wire Beads?
If you know you’ll be storing a wire bead tire for a long time, store it open and vertically in an unfolded state.
It is possible to fold a wire bead tire in a looped fashion, but this may gradually harm the rubber over extended periods.
Should You Deflate Bike Tires For Storage?
Bike tires that are installed onto the wheel rim should be regularly inflated during storage. Otherwise, they’re generally stored in a deflated state.
Is It OK To Store A Bike On Its Tires?
You can store a bike on its tires provided you don’t allow the tires to go flat. Letting the tires go flat on a standing bike invites deformation and accelerates ozone damage. The protectants included in tires dry out on the surface when the tire is not flexed.
Should Tires Be Stored Vertically Or Horizontally?
Ideally, store bike tires vertically if you can over hooks or arms. This helps them retain their natural shape.
How Long Can Tires Sit Unused?
Tires can sit unused for up to 5 years on average. Specialized has said in the past that tires begin to lose suppleness and grip after 3 years but are safe for 6 years.
Can Tires Be Stored On Concrete?
Yes, bicycle tires can be stored on concrete. However, note that concrete absorbs moisture, which can cause the tires to deteriorate over time. You could put a piece of cardboard under the tires to help protect them from this.
Does Hanging Your Bike By The Wheel Damage It?
No, hanging your bike by one or both wheels will not damage it, particularly if you use coated hooks to protect the rims.
Read more: Does Hanging A Bike By The Wheel Damage It?
Conclusion: Giving Your Tires Proper Storage Loving!
You can store tires for up to 5 or 6 years and still ride them safely, though you should follow a few simple rules on bike tire storage.
Above all, store tires in a cool, dry, dark place and unfold them whenever you know they’ll be stored for a long time. Tires last longer in their relaxed, rounded state.
Better still, ride your bike often and don’t allow tires time to rot in storage!
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