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There are spots on my rear tire that have developed rubber hairs, almost like the edge of the tire is shredding and the structural integrity is starting to go. You can also notice in the pic a waviness to the tire, which I’m thinking is because it is starting to deform.

I should also state this is a Raleigh used for hybrid road/mostly trail cycling.

  • What is this?
  • do I need to adjust something or is this normal wear and tear?
  • do I need to replace my tire and if no, how much life does it have on it from this?

tire wear

  • Are you talking about the white stuff just adjacent to the rim? That looks like the weave holding the tire together is starting to fray. Add to that the apparent cracking on the sidewall, and I'd say it's time for a new tire. – DavidW Aug 25 at 16:27
  • The weave, yes that must be it – mlhDev Aug 25 at 16:32
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    This image could benefit from a freehand circle... – Luuklag Aug 25 at 17:10
  • Also you might want to check your brakepads, this picture looks like there is significant wear on the rim from the breakpads, or most likely the brake callipers that are now doing the breaking since your break pads wore out. – Luuklag Aug 25 at 17:12
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    I see marks on the sidewall that look like they're due to the brakes rubbing, but no "hairs". The tires are moderately cracked, however, and that's approaching a point of concern. – Daniel R Hicks Aug 25 at 19:00
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See also an earlier answer: How do I know when to replace my tires?

To quote Sheldon Brown:

Many cyclists waste money replacing perfectly functional tires simply because they're old, or may have discolored sidewalls. If you just want new tires because the old ones look grotty, it's your money, but if you are mainly concerned with safety/function, there are only two reasons for replacing old tires:

  1. When the tread is worn so thin that you start getting a lot of flats from small pieces of glass and the like, or the fabric shows through the rubber.
  2. When the tire's fabric has been damaged, so that the tire has a lumpy, irregular appearance somewhere, or the tube bulges through the tire. Cracks in the tread are harmless.

In my opinion, this tire can still be used for certain types of riding, for the following reasons.

  1. Sidewall cracks are minimal and cosmetic. No inner layers of tire nor tube can be seen through them. The rubber does not fall in chunks off the carcass.
  2. I cannot see the tread, but if you do not get punctures often, it may be OK.
  3. The "hairs" are likely to happen because rim brake pads occasionally touch the tire. This is not good, the pads must only touch the brake surface of the rim. Replacing them (fresh pads are "thinner" at the tip in the beginning of their life) and adjusting them (move them just a bit lower) until it is too late is in order.
  4. The bulging of the tire is disconcerting. However, it seems to be caused by an uneven installation, and tire's bead sits just deeper at that section of the rim. For wide tires (2 inches or 50 mm wide), this does not affect the ride quality.

I would not take this tire to a long multiday touring trip or onto a blue mountainbike trail. But for running daily errands and commuting it should work for at least a season. Of course, regular visual pre-ride inspections (at least bi-weekly) are recommended to monitor the situation, as it is for any tire.

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Yes, you need to replace the tire.

The hairs are the fibers in the belts that are normally concealed by the rubber. The belts are what give the tire its pressure-bearing strength, and the fact that they are falling apart means they will not be able to resist the pressure they were designed for. You can also see the rubber sidewall is crazed and cracked, probably by long-term UV exposure. I'm guessing this bike is parked outdoors most of the time.

If you mostly ride on streets or well-groomed gravel paths, slick tires (or minimal tread) would give you a better ride and would take less energy to pedal.

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    Agreed. The hairs are not the only concern. There are also cracks in the rubber. I had a similar tire. I reduced the pressure and rode on it. I offer that as an example of a bad idea. I should not have done that except to get home after noticing it. But, one does these things in college with limited funds. – Andrew Aug 25 at 16:49

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