My bike needs a bit of a tune up, particularly the tires since the back tube has a hole in it. The rims on the bike are 26"x1.5" and the current tires are 26"x2" and both have great tread, but the sidewalls look like they're worn through in spots (I can actually see through the fibers in a few spots of the sidewalls). Should I replace the tires, too, or is replacing the tube sufficient? Also, is a 2" tire OK on a 1.5" rim?

Here's what it looks like:

My tire


Yep, that tire needs to be replaced. (It appears that either it's been run underinflated or you've been using your foot on the side of the tire to brake a lot.)

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  • Thanks. That's what I was afraid of. I was hoping I could avoid replacing both tires and just get new tubes, but unfortunately I'll have to go all out. It's a bike I inherited a few years ago and I never ran it with low air or used my feet for brakes, but I can't say for the previous owner. At least I'll be able to get something with treads more appropriate for asphalt riding now - silver lining =) – Geoɹgǝ Jɐɹoƨ May 26 '13 at 15:04
  • After doing a bit more research it looks like it's probably also due to the age of the tire, too. It's probably also dry rot, which I guess is fairly common on tan sidewall tires, especially tires of this age (about 5 years old, probably). Thanks for your help Daniel! – Geoɹgǝ Jɐɹoƨ May 26 '13 at 15:24
  • @GeoɹgǝJɐɹoƨ - Yeah, the old gumwall tires "dry rot" quickly, and are quite sensitive to running underinflated as well. – Daniel R Hicks May 26 '13 at 19:03

You can see the fibers? then it's a no-brainer, change the tires.

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  • Not in the treads, these are fibers that are part of the sidewall. They'd be visible on the tire if they were brand new. But in spots they appear to be worn or scratched through. The tube causes them to bulge a little in the sides where the sidewall looks thin. The tires are only about 6 years old and have only been used on super short rides (to the store and back, etc.). – Geoɹgǝ Jɐɹoƨ May 25 '13 at 22:29
  • I added an image to the question. Thanks! – Geoɹgǝ Jɐɹoƨ May 25 '13 at 22:35
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    +1 : Hint to OP: It's the tire that holds the pressure. The tube only holds the air molecules.......That tire is stuffed. – mattnz May 25 '13 at 23:38
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    After seeing the picture: change the tyres! – tisek May 26 '13 at 0:47

Change the tire before it blows-out, and see what might have caused the damage in the first place. It's possible that the mis-matched tire size contributed to the wear.

Assuming you're not purposefully rubbing something on the sidewall and that your tires are properly inflated, the most likely culprit would be a mis-aligned brake pad. Take a look at your brake pads, one at a time, and make sure they only touch the wheel rim as the tire spins. Make sure they still only touch the wheel rim when they are engaged. Adjust anything that hits the wheel wall at any point during the tire rotation.

Since it looks like it the damage occurred in only that spot on the wheel, it's possible that your wheel is out of true, and the proper adjustment needed may be to true the wheel. This by itself may solve your problem, but would subsequently need a brake adjustment to account for the re-aligned wheel anyway.

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