As we gear up for a couple of cycling events in May when we’ll pull our Mark Johnson designed / Dennis Bushnell fabricated “Precision Triplet” down from the storage hooks it dawned on me the tires on the were the same ones I installed right after we acquired and overhauled the frame and components in March through April 2012; these are the before, during and after photos….
Again, the problem here is that those wonderful 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires were now 7 years old. And, even though there were less than 1,000 miles on those tires with plenty of tread still remaining, time has sucked the life out of the materials that make up the tire.
As you can see in the photo below, the outer tread that overlays the puncture resistant strip between the tread and tire carcass had dried-out and was cracking at the outer edges of the dissimilar material as the tires were simply hanging in the fairly-well temperature controlled garage that fluctuated perhaps from 50°F during the coldest winter days to 95°F during the hottest days here in Georgia. This is not what you want a tire carrying three adults at speeds up to 50mph to look like. Truth be told, this not anything you want to see on any bicycle tire that you’re depending upon for your safe arrival at the end of a ride.
I was recently reminded of this when I pulled a set of old but never used Vredestein Fortezza tires out and fitted them to my ’99 Erickson single bike. They looked just fine when I pulled them out of my storage cabinet and fitted them to the wheels. However, after sitting inflated on those rims for a week the threads in the tire carcass simply failed due to their age and the ravages of dry heat such that, when I pulled the bike down to go for a ride, I could clearly see the tire had ulcerations and not fit for use.
So, the Erickson received a fresh set of fresh, soft and supple tires as did the wheels for the triplet. Both were Continental-branded tires, noting I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Continental bicycle and car tires. However, having looked at all of our tire options and knowing both sets of tires on these two bikes will suffer a similar fate to the tires they replaced, i.e., death by decay not from worn-out tread, the Continental Gran Prix Classics on the Erickson and the Gatorskin Reptile on the triplet should be more than adequate.
So, how old are the tires on your tandem or bicycle? If you can’t remember, it might be a good time to take a closer look.