How Long Do Bike Tubes Last (an Expert’s Opinion!)

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Every biker has faced the issue of flat tubes at least once during their biking career. The frustration that you face when you encounter a flat tire can’t be described in words. And this incident seems to happen at the worst time possible.

So, if you have already faced flat tubes or don’t want to experience this problem in the first place, then you need to learn how long do bike tubes last.

Generally, a bike tube can last for 15 to 20 years with proper care or can get busted in a week of usage. There are a lot of factors that come into play when your bicycle inner tubes are concerned.

Don’t worry, in this article, we will go through all of these factors! 

What Is an Inner Tube?

how long do bike tubes last

Before we can dive into the factors behind the longevity of a bike’s tubes, we need to understand what a bike inner tube is in the first place and how it functions.

Inner tubes are inflatable balloon-like ring structures that are made of either butyl rubber or latex material. They are placed inside tires and provide the necessary structural support along with suspension for the tire.

Without its support, the outer tire won’t be able to function properly, and you won’t get the smoothness or the steady grip on your touring bike.

So, it’s not just a tube, it is the base that holds the entire structure of a bike tire.

Inner Tubes Functionality

The functionality of all inner tubes is the same. So, whether you are using butyl rubber or latex inner tubes you will need to use a valve or pumps for inflating or deflating the tubes. If the tube can hold air properly, you will have a smooth & fun bicycle experience.

Also, if your tube flattens then don’t think that you are facing the issue of flat tires. Because most of the time, your bicycle tires will remain unharmed, and only the inner tube will take the fall. So, there’s no need for tire replacement if it’s just an issue with the inner tubes.

That being said, if your inner tube fails, it’s safe to check out the tires, especially if you are using a mountain bike.

Adding new tubes to your mountain or road bike tires is quite easy. You just need to use tire levers to pull out the damaged tube and then add a new inner tube.

Also, the front tire is most likely to wear out before the rear tire, and this is the same for the inner tubes as well.

Factors that Decide the Longevity of a Bike Tube

From our personal experience and feedback from novice to professional bikers, we have listed the following factors that directly affect the longevity of inner tubes:

Type of Tires

Many ignore these factors, but the type of tire plays a huge role when deciding how long the inner tubes will last. We will ignore car tires as we are focusing on the bike’s inner tube and its durability.

  • Mountain Bike Tires

When it comes to tire durability, there are only a handful of bike tires that can offer the structural resistance and durability of mountain bikes. This is because these tires are built to tread through rough & uneven terrain.

For this reason, the air pressure inside mountain bike tubes is kept at a minimal amount. This ensures that the tires become more squishy so that the bicycles can roam effectively without facing any trouble.

Maintaining this squishiness is the main reason why you may encounter flat tubes. If you go with low air pressure, then your inner tubes might break. But if you go with too much high pressure, then you risk the change of puncture from sharp objects and edges.

You can opt for protective tire liners if you want to be extra cautious and want to preserve the life of your mountain bike’s inner tubes.

  • Road Bike Tires

Generally speaking, if we are looking at maximum usage, then we ride touring bikes or road bicycles more than any other bikes. Road tires are completely different from mountain bikes as they are more vulnerable.

This is because road bikes come with narrow tires. And for full-sized adult bikes, this narrowness can make riding a lot difficult as during long periods of riding, the held air inside the tubes will shift.

Thus causing uneven inflation among the tubes. This will ultimately lead to the tube wearing down and getting easily punctured.

You also need to maintain high air pressure for this type of bicycle. So, when you are riding at full speed you don’t just run over objects unscratched. Instead, the wheel and the rubber on the rim will likely go through rough patches. This forces you to replace and get a new tire entirely.

That being said, there are road bikes that are different from the rest and puts up a decent competition against MTB bikes. A great example of this type of bike will be the BMX bike and its variants.

Storage & Environment Condition

How you store your bike after using them is very important for maintaining bike inner tube longevity. The storage conditions that you need to look into are:

  • Location

The storage location should be in an optimal environment. For this, it is best to keep the bike inside a shed or someplace cool. Heat will only wear down the tube’s rubbers, and in a few months, you will end up with a flat tube.

So, if you leave your bike in the open or store it outside of your house, be prepared to replace it very soon. Our recommended bike storage is always inside the house, preferably in a dark place.

  • Light, Temperature & Humidity

If you don’t want to replace bike tubes regularly, then you have to keep them in an environment with low light and humidity. And unless you want to burn out the rubber wheel, then keep the tubes and bicycle tires away from extreme temperatures.

Bike Maintenance

If you ride your bike on a regular basis, then you need to take care of it regularly too. When you ride a bike for a long time, visible cracks will show up and you need to patch them up unless you want to replace the bike tire.

Too many patches are also bad for a tire, and you won’t be able to tread difficult surfaces without opting for new tires. If your tire comes with high-quality tools like carbon rims, then always clean the tires after a long ride.

Also, try not to put too much pressure on the rim brakes, otherwise, a tube replacement will be the only option left for you.

Final Thoughts

A new tube can last from a few hours to a few years depending on how you take care of the bike, its tubes & tires, how you ride it, and where you keep it.

Hopefully, this answers your question regarding how long bike tubes last. So, follow this guide, and you won’t have to replace your inner tubes for a good amount of time!