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Tire wear question

I have Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tires on my bike. I’ve had them about one year as of this month. They were great during RAGBRAI last year and I’ve done a few rides since then. I probably have ~1200 miles or so on them. The front tire looks normal but the back tire has flattenned at the point were it meets the pavement. It has about a 3/8 inch, very evenly worn, flat and treadless surface all the way around the tire now. I’ve never seen a tire do this. I pump up to about 110 to 120 psi before each ride. I’m thinking I should replace the back tire only or just rotate them out. I’m leary about slick roads during RAGBRAI if we were to get rain and using a tire with that 3/8 ” flat surface on the road. I know the easiest and safest thing to do is to replace it but just wanted to see if this is a a common phenomenom and if anyone has experienced this before with their tires. I’ve been riding awhile and necer seen other tires wear like this.

14 Replies

Ken, June 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Hi Blue. You might want to check out the link below in which he explains the benefits of a smooth tire. He actually concludes that tread does nothing for traction.



jeffreydennis, June 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm

I bet your tire has wear indicators in the tread, they would look like little holes. Check that first. Your pattern is consistent with tires used on a trainer, at least that is how mine wear. The “slick” part is not the issue, it’s that there is less tire where you are susceptible to punctures. Que Iceman for the advantages of tubeless. Me, I’d change the rear but I like starting RAGBRAI with fresh rubber.


SteveS, June 26, 2014 at 5:13 pm

That’s how my tires wear when i do a lot of climbing, or lots of accelerations. You are basically doing a zillion micro skids, and that flattens the tire out. No biggee…the tread pattern does nothing.

It is annoying on descents as the bike doesn’t roll over as nicely, but if you are cheap (like me) you can get another few thousand miles out of them–just flip the tires around (back to front, front to back).


Sandaltan ., June 26, 2014 at 9:49 pm

The late Sheldon Brown recommends you run the best tire in front. I agree.



Luv 2 Ski, June 26, 2014 at 10:18 pm


I agree. Always have the best tires up front. Just like in a car. More control steering and braking.

If it was me I would replace both if you can afford the expense. At the very least get the same tire and put it up front and move the old front to the back as Sheldon recommends.


Pdiddly, June 27, 2014 at 8:26 am

Hi Blue,
My rear tire always wears like you have described. Probably because I tip the scales at 200 lbs. The poor thing can’t stay round with that pressing on it! I always assess the tire for bulges, cover tears, and exposed reinforcing cordage. Replace when any of those conditions are present. 1200 miles for me is about 1/3 to 1/2 of the usual life expectancy of the rear tire. I don’t use Vitoria’s but I believe those are considered good tires.


rd thompson, June 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Others are correct that lack of tread is a none issue other than making the tires more flat prone.

Inspect the tire closely.
a) Any exposed cord – replace ASAP.
b) Can see diagonal cord relief under thin rubber – riding on borrowed time. Replacement is priority.
c) Examine tread at the nicks and debris cuts to determine tread thickness. Replace at discretion, but you want at least noticeable thickness like several layers of duck tape as minimum.


VIKING, June 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm

On a car you want your best tires on the back.


andytetmeyer, June 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Your tire is getting worn. If you’re cheap, keep going til you get a flat or two. It will happen eventually as the rubber gets thinner and thinner. In this scenario, replace the tire after a couple flats.
If you would rather not wait around and get every last inch of riding out of the tire, or you don’t relish the thought of roadside tube changing – replace it now. You are not guaranteed to be flat free with a new tire but your chances are much better than with a tire that has the crown worn away. I would replace now, so you can have your pick of tires. Better that than somewhere on the road during ragbrai where you have to take what is on offer, and might have to wait in a long line to do so. You can always put that worn tire back on after the ride and wring every last mile out of it.


Luv 2 Ski, June 27, 2014 at 3:36 pm


You are right about a cars tires. I stand corrected.


Brian Zupke, June 27, 2014 at 3:44 pm

VIKING, thanks for helping me learn something new. I was first surprised by your statement about putting the best tires on the back so I did a quick Google search and learned why (less chance of over-steering in wet weather).


GetAClue Blue, June 27, 2014 at 5:43 pm

This makes allot of sense. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


GetAClue Blue, June 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I’m going to rotate them and go with it. The other post here shows me that the lack of tread is not an issue. I’ll just rotate them and then buy new next year. Thx for the info.


Shaun, June 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

Vittoria makes good tires and my guess is there’s a lot of life left in that tire. Doing a supported 400-500 mile ride doesn’t justify replacing a good tire with a new one. But I’ve seen a lot of people do just that. That kind of mileage is a fraction of what you’ll get out of a good tire.

Swapping them front to back like you’re going to do, is exactly what I’d do. The good thing is that if do have a catastrophic tire failure on RAGBRAI, you’ll be able to get a lift to the next town where someone can set you up with a new tire. We’re not touring the Australian Outback.


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