I've got a few sets of tires for my road bike, some of which are the same type of varying ages, others have been used on the turbo trainer, or have a suspected sharp object in them which I could never find.

I'd like a way of marking the tires themselves so that I can keep track of their age and what they've been used for. Just a couple of letters or numbers would probably do.

The question is what pen or paint could I use for this? As most tires are black, a normal permanent marker is no good. It would have to stay on the side wall through winter conditions without damaging the rubber.

Is there anything which would do the job?

  • Just brainstorming... but indelible labels on the inside of the tire might be an option. You could use a punch-type label maker that makes raised lettering and stick that to the inside of the tread (I should think the thickness of the label wouldn't be noticeable and the adhesive wouldn't damage the rubber too badly, but I've never done it.) Do you really need to be able to read the label with it mounted on a wheel?
    – WTHarper
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:23
  • 3
    Obviously, put an RFID tag inside the tire. Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 23:00

3 Answers 3


Metallic marker would probably work with periodic reapplication. I'd also suspect spray paint would work as well (even on the outside).

For car tires, they sell tire paint pens (such as these) which I think would work on a bicycle as well.

Alternatively, you could just hang tags (like repair tags) on the tires and attach/detach them when you want to use that particular tire. If you have multiple ones in use, just keep track of the tires based on which rims they're on or something in a notebook and update the notebook when you're done.

  • I do like Daniel R Hicks' RFID suggestion as well, actually. They are kinda pricey though (Adafruit sells a NXP MIFARE MF1ICS50 sticker (adafruit.com/products/362) for $2.50 each), but I'm not sure the antennas will necessarily be robust enough to last a ride (certainly, there are other tags, like the ones they use in large laundromats now to keep track of clothes, which will probably do better in this regard).
    – Batman
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 15:21

You use a reusable zip tie instead of marking the tire itself. Write the details on that, and put it on the bike frame or brake cable etc when the tire is on the bike and around the tire when its in storage.

I would suggest a simple numbering or letter system and a notebook for details would mean fewer letters and less chance of them being unreadable, while allowing as much detail as you can be bothered with being recorded.


Why not just use a simple paper inspection tag? The kinds with the string where you just write on the tag the info you need, thread it to the tire, and done. It is easy to remove and hang on the hook while the tire/wheel is in use so that you don't loose it.

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