A recent tire inspection has caused me to believe there is a very good chance I am courting disaster. Please see the above picture for the cause of my concern.
My rear tire is missing pieces of rubber. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how it is designed to operate. There is clearly an impending crisis in my life and I am struggling to decide how to avert it.
I really like my Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tire. After suffering a plethora of flats in 2010 and another flat this February, I purchased the Hardcase for my back tire and rode trouble-free all year until a few weeks ago when I slammed into a rock at high speed and caused a pinch flat. The Hardcase performed brilliantly and gave me a summer blessedly free of tire related issues. Another year of chronic flats may very well have driven me away from cycling, so it is not too much to say that this tire kept me in the hobby. It was a very good tire, but I am afraid it’s time has come.
You might think pea-sized holes in your tire would virtually guarantee a puncture within minutes. The fact that hasn’t occurred is a testament to the sturdiness of the tire. Under the rubber is a Kevlar band which is now unfortunately seeing the light of day. Still, the Kevlar is doing its job and the tire bravely soldiers on, puncture-free.
I’ve read that some people attempt to patch these holes with Shoo Gloo or other rubbery shoe repair glues. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the remains of my attempt at this sort of repair, which did not last 20 miles. It doesn’t appear this is the solution for me.
Initially, I was disappointed that the tire wore out so quickly. When I read reviews of this tire, I saw several satisfied owners who claimed to have ridden 5,000+ miles on the Hardcase. When reading the reviews, I neglected to consider two factors:
1. Online user testimonials are often outright lies perpetrated by vendors masquerading as consumers.
2. I am larger than the average cyclist and therefore tend to wear parts out faster than normal. So even if the testimonials were legitimate, I could not reasonably expect to see the same lifetime out of my tire.
Tonight I googled, “Average lifetime of a bicycle tire” and discovered several sources which suggest a typical lifespan is 1,000-3,000 miles, depending on the type of tire, road surface, and style of riding. My tire is currently at 2,800 miles so perhaps I shouldn’t be so disappointed at its performance.
At this point I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Steve, you dolt, the tire is clearly spent. Please buy yourself another one before you find yourself stuck in the wilderness in subfreezing temperatures, you cheap miser!”
You have an excellent point. It’s just that I would rather not buy new equipment for my bike in the middle of winter unless I absolutely have to. Winter puts a great amount of wear and tear on bike parts and it would be a shame to arrive in the springtime with “new” tires that look far older than they actually are. So I’m hoping to squeeze a few more weeks out of the old ones, which I strongly suspect will lead to another blog post which will chronicle the results of my folly in extreme detail. Stay tuned!