Do tyres age well?

battered

Über Member
If it's been in a warehouse it will be fine. If you leave them in the sun, less so. Rubber will eventually go hard and crack, but this takes years (say 10+).
 

accountantpete

Brexiteer
The answer in short is


"Tubulars today are manufactured by a variety of methods and in a variety of materials. One of the basic distinctions to make for this thread is whether they're vulcanized or not. Vulcanized tires use high heat to more or less melt the tire tread onto the casing. If the treads are vulcanized, they use a rubber compound high in sulfur that doesn't gas off meaningfully (i.e., cure). Consequently, there's no improvement from storage, and they are best off used as soon as possible. If you spent under $50 for a tire, it's probably vulcanized, but you can tell by looking at the edge of the tread -- if it looks like it's melted or squashed into the casing, it's vulcanized. If it sits on top of the casing at the edges and looks like there's a glue holding it on, it's not.

If it's a nonvulcanized tire, it's made by a more expensive method and may be made of a high-grade natural rubber, which in turn is made of a mixture of solvents, stabilizers, and the molecules that make up rubber per se. This is all sort of like a jello -- and like jello, if you let it dry out a bit, it toughens up quite a bit. Unlike jello, this treatment actually improves most tubulars made of such rubbers. Not all nonvulcanized tires use natural rubber treads, but natural unvulcanized rubber is more supple, which creates the more comfortable (and more grippy) ride that is the holy grail of good tires. When the rubber dries out a bit, it doesn't reduce the suppleness meaningfully, but it dramatically improves the cut and puncture resistance of the tire, increases wear resistance, and actually improves wet weather performance slightly.

At the same time, on that better tire, if it's got a cotton or silk casing, the aging allows the latex on the sidewalls to dry out. This happens in a month or two (versus six months to a few years for the rubber), but it also improves the suppleness and durability of the casing quite a bit. So even if you don't have the time (or money) to store expensive tubulars for years, you still can realize a meaningful improvement just keeping tires in storage for a couple months. Plus that time is enough to make a lot of the solvents gas out of the rubber.

This is all complicated because you can get weird combinations of materials and assembly methods. For example, the famed Dugast tubular tire works (once located in a little cubicle under the banking of the Gent velodrome, but now in new hands and relocated) will strip the tread off a tire whose tread you happen to like and reapply it to a cotton or silk casing -- they'll put a Conti Steher tread on a Dugast silk casing, or a Michelin Mud cyclocross clincher tread on a Dugast cotton cross tubular. And then you have the inventive Thai who combine newer materials with older assembly techniques on Vittoria's high-end tires.

So how to store tires? If it's not going to benefit from storage, it's best stored (if it's a nice tubular) in an open circle -- i.e., not folded up or flattened -- in a heavy plastic garbage bag, in a big tire box (to protect it from dings) in a dark, temperature controlled space. I.e., don't leave it in your garage for the summer, or in an attic or anywhere that cooks the tire. Good tubulars hate heat. Keep the tires lying flat if possible (tire boxes, which manufacturers ship clincher tires in, are great for tubulars -- they open on the large flat side so you can lay tires in flat and get easy access to them). You don't have to keep the tires on rims, but plan on stretching the tires on clean, unglued rims for a day or two before mounting. You can put a thin coat of glue on the basetape of a new tubular, brush it in really well so it gets into the fabric, let it dry well for a few days, and then stretch it on a clean rim. You won't get much if any of the glue coming off onto the rim. I usually keep a pair of tubulars of this variety stretched and ready to go.

If you have some very nice tubulars that merit aging, I'd suggest stretching them for a month or two, inflating regularly to 50-60 pounds and hanging them (letting them sit on their own weight is worse than not aging them). Then put them in a rim box, but don't put a plastic bag around them and cut some holes in the box so it can breathe. If you happen to have a bunch of extra tubular rims around, you can always store the tires on them, but then you have to inflate them regularly, find a way to hang them in good controlled conditions, never let them sit on the ground, and keep them from getting whacked or from getting covered with dust (which is also bad for them).

Butyl tubes in tubulars will last pretty much forever, but latex tubes will gradually dry out and deteriorate -- they get worse while the exterior of the tire gets better, ironically. Latex tubes used to have a weight and suppleness advantage, but butyl tubes have gotten so thin that the differences are pretty small, and more and more manufacturers have switched to them. I don't mind them and I don't have to worry about aging these tires as much. But be aware that you can't keep latex-tubed tubulars around forever.

One last thing: If you have bare fabric sidewalls (i.e., no colored rubber painted over them), then the aging process will dry out the sidewalls long before the tread has aged well. This is easy to address. Get a bottle of latex solution for tubulars (Jevelot is the most common brand, but you'll probably have to special order it) and paint it on the sidewalls every six months or so. It protects the casing and keeps it supple. Once you've mounted a tire on a wheel, it's worth using this solution every couple months or so (or more often if your tires get wet regularly). You'll prolong the life of your tires quite considerably.

Sorry this thread is a bit ambiguous about how to handle tires. You just have to figure out how your tire is constructed, and the materials, and decide whether aging is better or worse for you. It's only in the past few years that tire construction has gotten so diversified that it isn't an easy decision like it used to be."


Matthew A Brown
 

Garz

Squat Member
Location
Down
I seen a program on LA, his team had special cellars where this guy 'aged' the tyres so they were better for the tours..
 

andyhunter

New Member
Location
northern ireland
Garz said:
I seen a program on LA, his team had special cellars where this guy 'aged' the tyres so they were better for the tours..
Tyres sit and lie for a while before shipping and then lie in a warehouse or bike shop..this aging process is a myth. A tyre being good or bad or puncturing is down to compound, pressure, surface..nothing to do with ageing for no time or a long time.
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
I'm going to find out soon.
The rear tyre on my new-at-Christmas Singular Peregrine is getting towards worn out, besides having a big cut in the sidewall.
I've got a 1995 vintage Michelin 700x35 World Tour folder to go on that's been sitting in my parts box since last time I had a bike it would fit on.
 

Garz

Squat Member
Location
Down
andyhunter, I seen the program.. doesn't mean I in any way believe it! :blush:
 

Bayerd

Über Member
accountantpete said:
The answer in short is


"Tubulars today are manufactured by a variety of methods and in a variety of materials. One of the basic distinctions to make for this thread is whether they're vulcanized or not. Vulcanized tires use high heat to more or less melt the tire tread onto the casing. If the treads are vulcanized, they use a rubber compound high in sulfur that doesn't gas off meaningfully (i.e., cure). Consequently, there's no improvement from storage, and they are best off used as soon as possible. If you spent under $50 for a tire, it's probably vulcanized, but you can tell by looking at the edge of the tread -- if it looks like it's melted or squashed into the casing, it's vulcanized. If it sits on top of the casing at the edges and looks like there's a glue holding it on, it's not.

If it's a nonvulcanized tire, it's made by a more expensive method and may be made of a high-grade natural rubber, which in turn is made of a mixture of solvents, stabilizers, and the molecules that make up rubber per se. This is all sort of like a jello -- and like jello, if you let it dry out a bit, it toughens up quite a bit. Unlike jello, this treatment actually improves most tubulars made of such rubbers. Not all nonvulcanized tires use natural rubber treads, but natural unvulcanized rubber is more supple, which creates the more comfortable (and more grippy) ride that is the holy grail of good tires. When the rubber dries out a bit, it doesn't reduce the suppleness meaningfully, but it dramatically improves the cut and puncture resistance of the tire, increases wear resistance, and actually improves wet weather performance slightly.

At the same time, on that better tire, if it's got a cotton or silk casing, the aging allows the latex on the sidewalls to dry out. This happens in a month or two (versus six months to a few years for the rubber), but it also improves the suppleness and durability of the casing quite a bit. So even if you don't have the time (or money) to store expensive tubulars for years, you still can realize a meaningful improvement just keeping tires in storage for a couple months. Plus that time is enough to make a lot of the solvents gas out of the rubber.

This is all complicated because you can get weird combinations of materials and assembly methods. For example, the famed Dugast tubular tire works (once located in a little cubicle under the banking of the Gent velodrome, but now in new hands and relocated) will strip the tread off a tire whose tread you happen to like and reapply it to a cotton or silk casing -- they'll put a Conti Steher tread on a Dugast silk casing, or a Michelin Mud cyclocross clincher tread on a Dugast cotton cross tubular. And then you have the inventive Thai who combine newer materials with older assembly techniques on Vittoria's high-end tires.

So how to store tires? If it's not going to benefit from storage, it's best stored (if it's a nice tubular) in an open circle -- i.e., not folded up or flattened -- in a heavy plastic garbage bag, in a big tire box (to protect it from dings) in a dark, temperature controlled space. I.e., don't leave it in your garage for the summer, or in an attic or anywhere that cooks the tire. Good tubulars hate heat. Keep the tires lying flat if possible (tire boxes, which manufacturers ship clincher tires in, are great for tubulars -- they open on the large flat side so you can lay tires in flat and get easy access to them). You don't have to keep the tires on rims, but plan on stretching the tires on clean, unglued rims for a day or two before mounting. You can put a thin coat of glue on the basetape of a new tubular, brush it in really well so it gets into the fabric, let it dry well for a few days, and then stretch it on a clean rim. You won't get much if any of the glue coming off onto the rim. I usually keep a pair of tubulars of this variety stretched and ready to go.

If you have some very nice tubulars that merit aging, I'd suggest stretching them for a month or two, inflating regularly to 50-60 pounds and hanging them (letting them sit on their own weight is worse than not aging them). Then put them in a rim box, but don't put a plastic bag around them and cut some holes in the box so it can breathe. If you happen to have a bunch of extra tubular rims around, you can always store the tires on them, but then you have to inflate them regularly, find a way to hang them in good controlled conditions, never let them sit on the ground, and keep them from getting whacked or from getting covered with dust (which is also bad for them).

Butyl tubes in tubulars will last pretty much forever, but latex tubes will gradually dry out and deteriorate -- they get worse while the exterior of the tire gets better, ironically. Latex tubes used to have a weight and suppleness advantage, but butyl tubes have gotten so thin that the differences are pretty small, and more and more manufacturers have switched to them. I don't mind them and I don't have to worry about aging these tires as much. But be aware that you can't keep latex-tubed tubulars around forever.

One last thing: If you have bare fabric sidewalls (i.e., no colored rubber painted over them), then the aging process will dry out the sidewalls long before the tread has aged well. This is easy to address. Get a bottle of latex solution for tubulars (Jevelot is the most common brand, but you'll probably have to special order it) and paint it on the sidewalls every six months or so. It protects the casing and keeps it supple. Once you've mounted a tire on a wheel, it's worth using this solution every couple months or so (or more often if your tires get wet regularly). You'll prolong the life of your tires quite considerably.

Sorry this thread is a bit ambiguous about how to handle tires. You just have to figure out how your tire is constructed, and the materials, and decide whether aging is better or worse for you. It's only in the past few years that tire construction has gotten so diversified that it isn't an easy decision like it used to be."


Matthew A Brown
I take you're taking the piss? The answer in short is...WTF?
 
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