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A little over 5 years ago I bought a Magna bicycle. Within the first summer of riding it the rear brake fell apart. I finally got around to having he brake fixed this past month but I am worried about the quality of the tires as the bike (which has been hanging in my un-insulated garage for 5 years with many cold winters) has not had the tires inflated in 5 years. I recently checked the PSI on the tires with my gauge and it is 2 PSI. I'm wondering if I should get the tires replaced. I haven't tried putting any air into them as I don't want the tires to pop. Any help is appreciated.

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    Five years is not that old for decent bike tires. So long as they weren't sitting flat on the floor for an extended period and weren't exposed to strong petroleum fumes they should be OK. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 30 at 22:18
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    If you're just tootling about your driveway then there's not far to go if you have a flat. Which is a different matter from being miles from anywhere, or a blowout while rolling fast. Where are you intending to ride this bike ? – Criggie May 1 at 1:09
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If the bike has been hanging rather than sitting with weight on the tyres (and hence damaging the sidewalls), there is a good chance the tyres are still ok.

You can check the tyres by going around and looking for hairline cracks in the rubber and feeling if the rubber is brittle/flaky.

If they look ok then go ahead and inflate them and recheck the following day. If they still show no obvious signs of damage then I would go ahead and ride them.

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    -Would you recommend using a manual pump over an air compressor? I'm assuming I shouldn't inflate the tires to maximum PSI on the first day and if all is good the second day and the tires are holding the air I can inflate to maximum? – Ai_OB Apr 30 at 14:50
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    Manual pump vs compressor doesn't really matter - if anything I find compressors inflate slightly slower than by hand. Unless you are very heavy its actually rare to want to inflate a tyre to its maximum rating, modern trends are towards lower pressures. – Andy P Apr 30 at 14:55
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    The tires won't blow up - the carcass that gives the tire strength will not have substantially degraded. The rubber does degrade however so the worry is fast wear and decreased grip. The tubes may have degraded also. If you inflate them them may rupture. If they do just replace them. – Argenti Apparatus Apr 30 at 16:17
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    Also: I'd be much more worried about a garage in blazing sunlight during hot summers than about cold winters. Five years is about as long as as tire rubber stays good if it's not heat treated too much. So the tires may still be fine, but they likely won't stay fine for long. – cmaster Apr 30 at 17:02
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    At the risk of getting a little sidetracked, I wanted to respond to where @Ai_OB commented: "I shouldn't inflate the tires to maximum PSI on the first day and if all is good the second day and the tires are holding the air I can inflate to maximum?" Depending on where/how you're riding, you may never want to inflate to the maximum on the sidewall - it's literally just the maximum and is probably too high for many people/bikes/rides. Here's a good guide: bicycling.com/repair/a20004232/… – dwizum May 1 at 13:20
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There are ways tires get damaged other than by having weight on them. For example, ozone and ultraviolet light can cause dry rot.

If the tires were stored in a cool area, out of sunlight, and not near any electrical equipment, they're likely fine.

If, however, they display cracks, or are brittle, or were stored in sunlight or near electrical equipment, I'd recommend replacing them along with your tubes.

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I agree with Andy P. If the tires are hanging, then I would check the side walls for cracks. If all is good, then I would inflate to see what happens! If they do take air I would get new tubes before taking the bike out of walking distance, because I do not trust old tubes.

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I assume it's very unlikely that a tire gets damaged because of not being inflated. I would be more worried about how brittle and hard the rubber got during the years. Some tires are more - some less affected by this. Especially when you are planing to ride also in the wet a front tire with hard and brittle rubber can be a serious safety issue.

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In my experience, it is not the winter that ruins tires but rather the harsh summers. Heat causes the tires to expand. Although vinyl is elastic, it has certain limits.

I would say ride for about a mile. Check the tire afterwards because some cracks are insignificant and were probably going to develop either way. Other cracks do not last long.

I received a bike with cracked tires one and I had the same question but it lasted me several months.

There are two important parts to a tire, the tread and the inner tire. When tires are no good,the inner tire is typically fibrous and falls apart. Tires are not good when the tread is depleted. Only way to figure any of this out is to actually strain the tires and go from there.

I would inspect the tire tread and inner tire before riding and then after riding. When the inner tire fibers have come loose, the tread will wear out easily despite excellent tread. This is because the fibers hold the tread in place while riding and prevent significant deformations.

I would even go as far as saying the inner tire is more important than the tread here because tires with excellent tread will still deform when riding if the inner tire has loose fibers. Also, loose fibers will cause the tread to rip. Cracks tend to occur in tires simply because of the constant deformation that tires go through and then weather imbalances the chemicals inside of it. So it is possible that the tire has cracks but the fibers still hold up.

Thicker tires such as those on mountain bikes and the like will often have cracks but still be good. With road bike tires, cracks tend to be more common with loose fibers. So if a road bike, these cracks have a higher chance of loose fibers than does a mountain bike. Mountain bike tire have very strong inner tire fibers. You might not even notice the fibers because they may be covered in any bike or they might be uncovered.

But like I said, ride the bike and take notice of any changes. If fibers cannot be observed, try deforming tire by folding it around the cracks and fold it at other locations where there are no cracks. Two things should happen. Cracks shouldn't form where they weren't, and cracks shouldn't worsen where they are.

  • Welcome! Don’t forget to take the tour. If you break things down into more paragraphs that would help the readability. – Swifty May 1 at 5:05
  • I'd like to know more about the fibers and vinyl – ojs May 2 at 4:56
  • Vinyl is used for inflatables The fibers are typically composite materials. Lastly the tread is made out of synthetic rubber(I am not sure about this). Most bicycle tires are meant for speeds under 20 mph/35 km/h. Past this limit tires will rip more easily the faster you go. Quality has nothing to do with materials and is affected by the fibers in the tire. The fibers do 2 things, 1) they keep the shape of the tire, and 2) they "help" deform the tire by compressing against current movement for a comfortable bike. The quality of tire is all in the fibers(fibers don't rip easily on good tire) – Jonathan Aguilera May 26 at 7:28
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Tires should be ok, just ck for cracks as said above. Use the airchuck. Remove the wheel. Inflate to about 5 psi so you can squeeze with your hand.
Check that the tire bead is set around the whole rim, and spaced fairly evenly. Inflate to 15 psi Roll the tire on floor and ck bead again. Inflate to at least 20-25 psi

For hybrid tires 35-45psi Road tires 80-120 Hope this helps :)

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