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As the title suggests, I have just put on two new tires but now I'm not sure if I put them on in the right direction.

No directional arrows so I presume anyway is fine, however me being me it made sense to have the tread pattern going in the forward direction.

So do these look right or should I flip them around?

enter image description here enter image description here

  • Aside from the great info in the answers below, it might make sense to just call or email the support team for your tire's manufacturer and ask. – dwizum May 15 at 13:27
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Tires with directional arrows usually have a tread that's asymmetric in terms of rotation of the tire about the hub (i.e. the tread appears to "point" forward or backward along the direction of travel of the bike).

Asymmetric tread is designed to improve traction in certain scenarios. For example, they can be designed to encourage water, snow, mud, and other liquid or semi-liquid items to move out from under the tire, improving traction. Mounted incorrectly, they will do the opposite and encourage the same stuff inward toward the center line of the tire.

The direction arrows you mention are to reduce the guess-work and just tell you exactly how to mount the tire to get the tread pointed the right direction. If there is no explicit arrow, look at the tread and see if it has a pattern that "points" in one direction (forward or backward). In every case I've seen, the pattern should point behind towards the back of the bike when it contacts the road, or forward when you look at it from the top.

If there is no direction arrow, and the tire is either slick or has a symmetric tread (doesn't "point" forward or backward), I would say mount it either way. Shouldn't matter.

Also, make sure to look very close for the arrows. Sometimes they're painted onto the tire and easy to see, but other times they're just traced with a raised ridge of tire rubber and that can be hard to spot. Check the entire perimeter of the tire on both sides, in good lighting.

Summary

  • Did the tire manufacturer include an explicit rotation direction arrow printed or embossed on the tire? If so, follow that.
  • If there is no explicit rotation direction arrow included by the manufacturer:
    • Is the tread asymmetric in the direction of rotation, i.e. does it appear to "point" forward or backward? If so, mount the tire so the tread is pointing forward when viewed from the top of the bike.
    • Is the tread symmetric (doesn't appear to point forward or backward)? If so, mount it either way, rotation direction doesn't matter.
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    I should be good to go then, i have put them on so from above they point forward and while moving the face backward – Dan K May 14 at 18:15
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    Some patterns are designed to be mounted in one direction on the front and opposite on the back. This prioritizes traction for acceleration on the rear and braking on the front. – mattnz May 14 at 19:50
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    From the photo, these tyres are not symmetric though. You can see it most clearly in the "triangles" down the sidewall, but also if you look closely at the angled squares in the next level. So what is your advice if there is no direction arrow, but the tyres do not have a symmetric tread? – Sparhawk May 15 at 10:10
  • @Sparhawk Images were not included in the post when I wrote this, just linked, and I didn't notice the links. Regardless, I stand by my advice. My point was exactly about non-symmetric tires lacking direction arrows from the manufacturer. I've added a Summary to clarify the three scenarios I discussed. – SSilk May 15 at 14:38
  • @mattnz I'm unfamiliar with the type of tire you've described, but it sounds fairly particular so hopefully in that case the manufacturer would include very clear marking like two arrows, one labeled Front and one labeled Rear or something like that. – SSilk May 15 at 14:39
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Although hard to tell, I’m pretty sure for those tires it does not matter, if it had a specific way it would say so. If it looks the wrong way then change it, but I would just leave it the way you put it on.

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If the company did not bother to add rotational direction (especially one like Continental), it mostly doesn't matter.

On that matter, I've had experiences where if the tread/knobs are angled and seem to point to a direction, putting it in either direction gives different performances for different intentions/applications.

If we see the tread as a V-shape, installing the tire with it pointing forwards would result in less rolling resistance and very grippy braking (typical), while installing the tire with the tread pointing back will have massive grip when pedaling (mostly in climbs) but less grippy braking.

That's just my experience so take it with a grain of salt, but it might give a bit of insight.

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