Are you wondering how long the unused bike tire hanging on the wall of your garage will last? I’m sure I’m not the only one who spots a good deal on the web and stocks up on tires before they sell out.
If you have some spare tires stocked up in your storage like me, you might be concerned about their shelf life and speculate how long it is until they will start to go bad.
There are various factors that can contribute to the damage of bike tires, even if you have never used them. But how long do bicycle tires last in storage?
Well, a straightforward answer would be more than 4-10 years, provided that you have kept them under suitable storage conditions. The longevity of your unused tires would largely depend upon how properly you store them.
In this guide, I’m going to discuss the usual factors that result in the damage of your unused bike tires and the top tips I’ve been following to boost their lifespan in storage.
What factors damage the bicycle tires in storage?
1. Direct exposure to sunlight
Exposure to sunlight does not spare a lot of materials, including rubber compounds. Directly exposing your bicycle tires to harsh rays of the sun will compel them to absorb ultraviolet light because of free-radical reactions from these UV radiations.
UV light can affect the flexibility and elasticity of your stored tires, which are quite important. You may also feel that your tires have shrunk if you expose them to the direct rays of the sun. Moreover, ozone cracking can further cause damage to your unused bike tires.
Even though the concentration of ozone is considerably low, it can still form cracks on your tire’s surface as it is harmful to elastomers, which are extensively used in tires. This would eventually damage the sidewalls of your unused bicycle tires. Once your tires crack, you will not be able to use them.
Exposing your tires to sunlight could potentially destroy the unprotected rubber of your tires with ozone cracking within two weeks. This is why it is important to store bike tires away from the harmful rays of the sun and prevent cracking.
2. High temperature
High temperatures and direct exposure to heat can damage your bicycle tires in the long run. In fact, rubber is bound to go through various changes and aging due to increased levels of heat.
Even in places with hotter climates and weather conditions, you would notice that the tires in storage would last for a reduced period of time. This is why it is always advised to protect tires from extreme heat and store them in a cool place.
Ideally, the temperature should not surpass 77 F and should not fall below 32 F either. Directly exposing bicycle tires to sunlight would also damage them because of UV radiation. With extreme heat, they will dry out and become brittle.
Furthermore, exposing your tires to fluctuating temperatures is just as damaging. High temperatures would cause the molecules inside your bike tires to expand, while low temperatures would make them contract.
If the temperature constantly fluctuates to expose your tires to constant contraction and expansion, your unused tires may lose pressure and eventually stress out. As a result, you may feel like your tires are under-inflated once you use them after keeping them in storage for a long.
It may sound surprising to some, but oxygen can break down the rubber in your bike tire from both the outside as well as inside. To slow down and delay this process to prevent rubber breakdown, your tires consist of special antioxidants.
Such antioxidant compounds are made to use rubber to delay this entire aging process. Oxygen can alter the polymer of your unused tires to deteriorate the rubber and make your tires much more brittle and rigid.
The rubber in your tires can also soften due to occasional molecular scission. Oxidation can make your stocked-up tires entirely unusable by forming cracks on them and completely drying them out. Moreover, you can unknowingly double the process of oxidation and breaking down of rubber by exposing them to extreme heat and higher temperatures.
This is why it is best to keep tires in lower temperatures and cooler garages by tightly wrapping the inner tubes to ensure their protection against oxidation.
4. Exposure to humidity
The longevity of your tires lying in storage is also affected due to the humidity and moisture in the environment to which they are exposed. If your garage has a water source, the resultant moisture can damage your tires as liquids are the source of ozone.
Since ozone is fatal for your tires due to the rubber present in them, it will make them moldy and compel them to rot. Furthermore, waterlogged tires are susceptible to becoming a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes and bacteria.
If you have stored your tires near water bodies, these risks from moisture will only increase as humidity can cause condensation on your rubber tires. It doesn’t end here; humidity and liquid condensation can also result in the formation of ozone, which is again harmful to the lifespan of your unused tires.
Adequate ventilation is necessary for an increased lifespan of your tires stocked up in your garage. The rubber in your tires is prone to quicker degradation in the absence of proper ventilation in the area where you have stored them.
Hence, in a poorly ventilated place, you should expect reduced levels of performance from your tires. Since airflow and ventilation are necessary for preventing damage from extreme heat and exposure to humidity, inadequate ventilation can aggravate the level of deterioration.
How to make bike tires last longer in storage?
1. Store your tires away from harsh elements
It is essential to protect your tires from harsh elements and store them in a cool place to prevent damage from heat. Make sure to store tires properly and keep them away from sunlight and ensure proper ventilation in the area, as airflow is necessary for the prevention of degradation from extreme heat and moisture. You should also abstain from exposing your tires to water sources, as humidity can affect their longevity.
2. Proper methods for storing
You should make use of reliable methods for storing your tires, as the way you store them can affect how long tires end up lasting. You can stack your tires by facing them down on their sides and setting them apart using cardboard sheets. However, leaving them in this setup for months can prove to be damaging.
The best and most professionally-recommended approach could be to simply hang them as it eradicates unnecessary pressure and prevents deformation of their shape. In any case, you should make sure that your tires are not being bent by another heavy object, as it would prevent them from maintaining their shape.
3. Cleaning before storage
There are a number of things you need to prepare for before storing your tires. It is extremely important to clean your tires and wash off any dirt before restoring them. You should also look up any signs of wear before storing them. Make sure there is no moisture and they are completely dry while you prepare to store them.
4. Wrapping up your tires
It is best and advisable to cover your tires in an airtight bag before you store them. This would prevent their direct exposure to extreme heat as well as humidity, which can prove to be very damaging for them. You can also use a cardboard box for the purpose of storage. Wrapping your tires would protect them against harmful ultraviolet rays and humidity.
Do bike tires degrade over time?
Whether you use your tires or stock them up in your garage, they are susceptible to damage and degradation. Over time, exposure to elements like extreme heat, humidity, and UV light would result in your tires going bad. How long bike tires end up lasting would depend upon the environmental conditions, your maintenance, and storage efficiency.
Should I deflate my bike tires for storage?
There is no need to deflate your tires for storage. In fact, deflating them can result in side-wall cracks and exertion of pressure on side walls. Keeping them inflated and storing them in the right position using a reliable storage method would be much better.
How long do bike tires stay inflated?
This might depend upon the type of bike you own. You may have to pump road bike tires every week, mountain tires once every 2-3 weeks, and hybrid bike tires once every 2 weeks.
Are tires still good after 10 years?
Unused bike tires can last for more than 4-10 years, provided that you store them properly under adequate environmental conditions. Exposure to extreme heat, humidity, and a lack of ventilation can hamper their longevity and shelf life.