How Long Do Mountain Bike Tires Last? (And When To Replace Them)

Mountain bikes are quite durable, flexible, and versatile. Not only are they suitable for riding on the streets of the city, but they are also designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and treacherous downhill trails. 

So, understandably, they cost a bomb! Thatʼs why only a serious mountain biker will splurge on a new bike. 

Of course, like all products, bikes also break down, especially when ill-maintained; after all, they are abused on the mountains. And more often than not, the chains, rotors, drivetrain, brake discs, and other parts are clogged with grime, mud, and grease too.

The bike’s tires, the only link between the frame and the rough trails, are also exposed to rough conditions and, as a result, they need to be replaced quite frequently (but less often than road bike tires). 

The longevity of mountain bike tires depends on a wide range of factors. Factors that affect a tire’s lifespan are the quality of the tires, the trails, maintenance work, and frequency of use and riding style.  

4 Factors that Affect How Long Mountain Bike Tires Last

Quality of the bicycle tires

With an MTB tire, it’s a you-get-what-you-pay-for scenario. When you splash the cash on high-quality tires, you’ll get tires made of only the best and most durable materials, including reinforced rubber. 

Reinforced rubber is renowned for its durability and ability to handle the bumps and humps of stony, rough terrains.

Additionally, a higher-quality tire is capable of supporting a bigger load size without bursting, wearing, or tearing. A lower-quality tire, comparatively, wears out much quicker and is likelier to wobble on rough trails, causing a safety risk.

In a nutshell, there are so many different new tires on the market that it’s difficult to determine the average cost; however, only an MTB tire that costs a pretty penny is capable of standing the test of time.

Trails

Mountain bikes are meant to be ridden on rugged cross-country terrains full of sharp rocks, huge boulders, and spiky vegetation (broken and thorny branches). It wouldnʼt be far-fetched to say that you subject your mountain bike tires to punctures every time you bike ride on a mountainous trail. 

Even if your wider tire is of the highest quality, the rocky terrain can cut short its life span to hours or even minutes. If you want your tire to last long, avoid extremely rocky paths and downhill trails. 

Rough surfaces can not only puncture your tire’s inner tube but also degrade it through wear and tear. Navigation through obstacles on rough terrains leads to increased friction, which causes wear and tear of the tire.

You’re better off riding in parks and muddy areas than on dry and rough surfaces i.e. if you want to increase the life span of your tires. Bike parks and muddy areas are much softer and smoother compared to mountainous regions.

Maintenance 

Proper maintenance of a mountain bike tire is a must if you want your tires to last long. A tire undergoes severe abuse on the trails and, as such, accumulates plenty of grease and grime over time. 

If the unwanted substances arenʼt removed from the tires timeously, they can corrode the wheels and rims. When wheels and rims are corroded, you run the risk of them breaking, resulting in splinters. 

The sharp splinters can, in turn, puncture your tires and render them irreparable.

During regular tire maintenance, you should make a point to check your tire pressure too. The right pressure levels can significantly increase the life span of the tires. 

When tires are forced to operate at low pressure, the heavy load can damage them and, thus, lead to tire wear and punctures in the inner tubes. Also, bear in mind not to keep the pressure above the recommended level if you ride frequently as it could cause the tire to burst.

Frequency of use and riding style

Mountain bike tires wear down quicker the more frequently they are used. Thatʼs why in mountain biking competitions, professional bikers frequently change their tires in between rounds to prevent punctures. 

A mountain biker needs superior traction to stay safe on a downhill trail—a worn tire can be dangerous—and the front tire of a bike needs to have more traction than the back tire. 

The tire life also depends on what you’re using the tires for because the type of riding you do will affect the tire-wear pattern. For example, road tires, cross-country tires, trail tires, and touring tires will all wear down differently.

How you ride your bike also affects the longevity of your tires. If you ride gently, not much friction is produced. And, since there is less traction involved, your tires last longer and donʼt suffer as much. 

However, the opposite happens when you ride hard. You can expect your mountain bike tire to get worn after a few sessions. 

How to maintain your mountain bike tires?

Here are three tips to increase the average lifespan of your new MTB tires:

Tip 1: Maintain correct air pressure in your front tire and rear tire

Riding with a tire with low pressure will make the wheel constantly smack into the ground, and that can be extremely annoying. The frequent meetup of the wheel and the ground can cause damage to the rims and wheels too.  

When tires operate at lower pressure, they canʼt handle the bike and rider load properly. With so much stress, it is only a matter of time before they rupture.  

Itʼs also ill-advised to keep bike tire pressure above the recommended level as doing so can cause the tire to burst.

In short, keep your tires under the recommended pressure for your safety as well as the well-being of your tires.  

Tip 2: Keep your tires squeaky clean

If you want to prolong the life span of your tires, it is imperative to keep them clean at all times. Your tires accumulate plenty of dirt on trails, so to prevent the grime and grease from wreaking havoc on your wheels and rims, you must get rid of it, pronto!  

To clean your tires correctly, get a rag and soak it in warm water. Then, wipe the tires down to get rid of the stubborn dirt. 

If the tires and wheels are full of mud, use a wire brush to remove the caked dirt. Once you’re done wiping away the unwanted substances, clean the tires and wheels with a clean rag.  

During cleanup, don’t use a hose as it exerts too much pressure and can destroy the bearings. Also, keep the wheels and rims well-lubricated.  

Tip 3: Ensure that the mountain bike tires you use are suitable for the technical terrain you ride on

Not all MTB tires are created equally. As a result, while some may excel on rough terrain, others don’t. 

Therefore, don’t use tires on terrain that they arenʼt designed for. When you check your tires, look out for tears in the tread – small cracks in the tread are harmless.

You also need to examine the wheels and ensure they rotate smoothly without any resistance (wobbling action).

Finally, if you are unsure how to properly maintain your tires, call in a professional. Getting your bike professionally serviced may cost a lot at first, but the long-term results will undoubtedly save you plenty. 

Plus, a professional will ensure your mountain bike tires last longer and that they are safe. 

When should you replace bike tires?

You need to change your front and rear tires as soon as possible if you see any of the following signs:

  • if the knobs are rounded and not as tall as they used to be (tires stop offering traction when the knobs get worn out);
  • if the tire treads beneath the rubber are visible in certain areas;
  • if any areas are bulging;
  • if they are unable to hold pressure; and
  • if the tread is cracking excessively.

If the rear tire wears out more than the front tire, simply change the rear tire and vice versa. Since MTB tires cost a lot, there’s no point in swapping a completely good tire for a new tire.  

Conclusion

It’s impossible to say for certain how long mountain bike tires last. A new tire can go strong for anywhere between 50 to 1,000 miles, depending on how hard you ride, the type of trails (soft dirt or hard dirt) you frequent, the quality of the bicycle tires, maintenance work on the tires, and how frequently you use your bicycle tires. 

Bear in mind that a tire, irrespective of its quality, can burst within the first few miles of its first ride for various reasons, including if the air pressure is above the recommended level or because of contact with a sharp object. Getting flat tires is simply part of the mountain biking experience.

However, if you want to increase the life expectancy of your new tires, ensure you maintain them properly and inspect them before your next ride. It also helps to try to avoid excessively rocky trails.

Alternatively, you could invest in wider tires that come with special features, such as casings, protection, and puncture-resistance, etc.