Stupid Question- When are MTB tires worn out?

When are MTB tires considered “worn out”? I’m not talking about the tread being completely gone. But when, between brand new and no tread left, should you toss the tire. For example, my rear tire has worn to about the bottom of the siping on the tread blocks. However, traction seems ok. Is it dead? Should I toss it or keep it? How do you decide.


I’ve been guilty of riding my MTB tires so long that when I do replace them I’m completely gobsmacked by how much additional traction is available. I set most of my PRs on new tires.

After experimenting a few times; I go by mileage. Down here on the relatively dry, hardpack, with a bit of smooth rock I can get about 750-1000 miles of singletrack before the tire just doesn’t corner or climb technical features well. This is about a season of riding. Usually have wear on the lugs, tire is much smoother overall, and sidewalls are showing wear.


It Depends! :sweat_smile:

What type of MTB tyre? Front or rear? Conditions, trail type, etc?

I tend to rotate through a selection depending on season and what I have left. But in general I go by “when they’re no longer fit for purpose” and even that is a huge operating window.

For example; this years summer front, may move over to a winter rear. A summer rear I can let wear down much further than any fronts. A winter front will definitely become a winter rear etc.

I tend to go by the shoulder shape of the tread. Square edges grip. If your square knobbles are no longer square then its time to relegate them to the rear, or the bin, depending.


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The rear is the most worn. The front looks practically new. Similar to a road bike where one front tire lasts about the same as two rears. That is how the wear looks on my MTB. The main question is when are the knobs worn enough to warrant changing the tire? When the blocks are 50% original height? 25%? I know someone will say “when the traction gets too compromised” is the right time to swap. So, how do you tell when the traction is compromised? Here in AZ we have a mix of hard rocks, loose small rocks, and loose sand. In the two loose conditions the traction is never that great and I can’t say that my rear tire, at about 1/3 worn off blocks is noticeably worse than it was when it was new. My wild guess is that at 50% were I’ll probably want to change the tire. I was just hoping for a few tips about how people decide when the traction is enough worse to change the tire.

All I can add is that it’s definitely not a stupid question.



Well thats up to you, if you cant tell then it doesn’t matter.

Here’s a pic of my front old vs new. I might keep the worn one for a winter rear. Also note that I use 3C tyres which have softer outer tread so the outer tread wears quicker.


When new tyres you fancy are on sale.


Snap! I’m always surprised after new ones that I’m not washing out and getting up loose climbs again.

This is about how my rear tire looks compared to a new one. The front is much less worn. I’ll probably change it in the next month or so.

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300 miles , 10 rides. Even after only 10 rides the performance gain is noticeable. As an XCO and Marathon racer, I value the performance, I am also sponsored by Trek and the LBS that sells Trek so I get Bonty tires for about 37$ us.

I am actually battling the same question - Have a decently worn front forekaster 2.4 (new version) and rear forekaster 2.35 (old version) - was wondering if I should move the front to the rear and get a new front forkaster 2.4 for the winter - then change both tyres in april/may for the summer race season.

I came from road where I would never put a front to the rear but there is a lot more thread on MTB tyres and these tyres are probably only 3-4 months old @ 10hours per week?

I ride in Ireland where its mostly natural, wet and greasy!

I would.

Pffft. I always do it. :smiley:

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Tires are cheaper than ER visits. HOWEVER, I do like a nice worn in tire for XC racing. For me, only MAXXIS. Mezcal’s and Saguaros are awesome but the rubber wears differently… like chunks instead of smooth wear. I ride dry chunky loose over hardpack with slickrock and some jaggy stuff. Bottom line for me: as long as they can still stop short of, bunny hop over, or dispatch a rattler. They’re gtg

I think those are Ardents. But now they look like Ardent Races! GTG!!