Ever wonder how old are your tires? good to know
So how old of a tire should you use? The answer for this is easy. It depends! If you need to get the most out of your tires, then the fresher the better. If you like a tire to last longer, then the age of the tire is less critical. But you should never buy or use a tire that is more than six to seven years old. But how do you know how old your tire is? Carbon dating? Serial number cross-reference with manufacturers? Actually, your tire has the date of manufacture, or the "born on" date. How nice! If you look closely you will find a four-digit number stamped into the sidewall of your tire. It will read something like 4408 or 2101. What do these numbers mean? Well, a 4408 means the tire was manufactured during the 44th week of 2008. 2101 means the tire was manufactured the 21st week of 2001. Years prior to 2000 have a one-digit number to reflect the year, and after 2000, a two-digit number is used. This is a simple and easy way to figure out the age of a tire. But why is a fresher tire better? Well, first, rubber is organic and it decomposes. Second, after your tire is manufactured, it may sit on the top shelf of a scalding hot warehouse for four years, outgassing all the while. Then it goes to the local shop, where it sits in a south-facing window (outgassing every time the sun sets for another year before you finally buy it). So, you end up with a five-year-old tire that may already be worn out before you've ridden home. Then you'll complain every time the tire slides around underneath you. Not because it is a bad tire, but because it has gotten so old and outgassed so much it has become brittle. If your primary concern is a tire that lasts lots of miles, an older tire will do fine because it has gotten hard with age. But again, rubber is an organic material, and a tire that is seven years old is not as capable as the exact tire that is newer.
When is a tire worn out or in need of replacement? You guessed it . . . it depends! A front tire may be shot while there is still plenty of rubber on the tire. This is why you should always replace your tires in sets. If the rear is down to the wear bars, yet the front tire still has plenty of life, both tires have gone through the same number of heat cycles. The front tire may "look" great, but it is just as worn out as the rear tire. Keep in mind that your front tire is more critical to not falling down than your rear.
You may have a race tire that looks awesome but has gone through so many short heat cycles that it will feel and grip like wood. Front tires can also cup or scallop where the front tire wears uneven and causes poor handling - a good time to replace the tire.
Well, what if you get a flat tire? Can you just plug it like a car tire? You can, but I wouldn't. Motorcycle tires do way more than a car tire can. It has to grip while leaned over and it flexes from more directions. And if it fails, you only have one other tire to catch you, unlike a car that has three other tires to prevent you from falling. My advice would be to avoid plugged tires. Plugging will get you home, but it's best to replace the tire.
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