Bike tire life

Yesterday I got a flat tire while on my ride to work. I was only a bit more than a mile from the office, so I walked the rest of the way and later that morning replaced the inner tube with the spare I keep in my saddlebag. Because the flat occurred as I was coming down off a small curb, I first thought it was a pinch flat. A quick inspection proved that wrong.

As you can see, I’ve let my tires get past their expiration date; I’m sure that whatever I ran over wouldn’t have caused a puncture if the tread hadn’t been worn away. I ordered new tires from Nashbar and should be getting them next week.

The thing that bugged me most is that these tires are not much more than a year old, and I can’t remember wearing out tires so quickly before. Because I rode about 1500 miles last year and have ridden about 550 miles so far this year, I figure those tires have only about 1800 miles on them. I’ve never kept track of my tire life before, but that seemed kind of short.

(It was the rear tire that punctured, and it does wear more quickly than the front. But I rotated them late last year so the two almost equally bald.)

So I went to Google to look for average bicycle tire life. This page, from a tire manufacturer, talks about 2000-5000 km (1250-3000 miles) for their standard tires; this page, from a cycle shop in San Francisco, talks about 1500-4000 miles. So my tires aren’t freakishly short-lived, although they are definitely on the low end of the typical range. I guess I’m just riding more, so the miles are piling up more quickly.

I’ve promised myself to pay closer attention to the tread on my new tires and not let them go so far. While I don’t hate changing tubes—unlike Jamie Zawinski—it’s never fun to have to do it the middle of a ride.

Update 8/20/10
After a two more years of riding, and a switch to a harder wearing tire, I’m now getting about 4000 miles from my tires, which is on the upper end of the ranges quoted above.