Tires are one of the most essential components to ensuring a perfect ride on a scooter. They are also the same parts that are most easily overlooked. In this piece, we will share all that we know about tires. This includes common tire problems, errors in their use, preventative maintenance, etc.
Spending the eight minutes that it will take you to read this article will help you get more familiar with tires and help you retain them, and your electric scooter for a significant amount of time. Well, the clock is ticking, no time to waste, so let’s dive into it.
Various Tire Types: The Pros & Cons
Currently, there are two types of tires on the market: pneumatic and solid tires.
1. Pneumatic Tires
These are the types of tires found most commonly on bicycles and cars. Their shape can be adjusted with pressure, so the more full of air they become, the smoother ride they yield for the rider. Pneumatic tires can be subdivided into two distinct kinds: inner tube pneumatic tires and tubeless air-filled tires.
Inner-Tube Pneumatic Tires
Of the two types of pneumatic tires, this type, involving an inner tube and an outer tire, is the more common one. The outer tube’s thread is thicker than that of the inner tube, so the outer layer serves as protection for the inner one from significantly quick wear.
As there are two layers, the outer one is detachable. This means that if you experience a flat tire, the inner tire (or air-filled tube) can be easily replaced. For optimum performance and stability, the inner tube needs to be filled with air, and the air pressure must be kept within the proper range while it is used. When the air pressure is optimal, the tire will possess a better road grip, enabling better rides regardless of the terrain.
Tubeless Pneumatic Tires
These types of tires maintain the tire’s sealed state via a layer of sealant between the rim and the tire. These tires can better resist weight pressure and are significantly more resistant to being punctured. Most commonly, these types of tires are found on cars.
If this type of tire is punctured, repairing it can be difficult due to its seal. When such tires are used on scooters, you would typically be required to take the scooter to a professional seal shop if one is punctured to remove the tire from the riding apparatus.
2. Solid Tires
The solid tires break down into two types as well: solid core and honeycomb tires.
Solid Core Tires
Unlike the pneumatic variety, solid tires do not need to maintain tire pressure, so they do not need to be inflated. Because of this, they are far less likely to be punctured, and in that, they are far more durable.
At the same time, because solid core tires are heavier, the scooter requires more energy to propel them forward, causing the ride to be less comfortable. Beyond that, solid tires are far less effective in absorbing road bumps, so they are not ideal for those seeking smooth rides.
Honeycomb tires were created to address some of the solid core tires’ shortcomings. The tires weigh less and are better at absorbing shocks during rides due to the many air-through holes in the tire’s ring. These tires can also bear more weight while being lighter than the solid core variety. Of course, the conveniences and advantages come at a higher price tag.
Common Causes Of Flat Tires
Regardless of your scooter’s tire types, tires require daily maintenance. Many people make the mistake of disregarding tire care, but it is essential to keep tires in good condition and extend the longevity of their use.
There are several common causes for tires becoming flat.
Sharp Object Puncture
The most common cause for flat tires is due to punctures by sharp objects (such as nails) being pressed into the tire. These can result in a variance of puncture sizes that cause air to leak from the tire. It is important to stay vigilant when riding the scooter in order to avoid riding over objects that can perforate the tire such as nails, rocks, wood, glass, etc.
The second most common cause of flat tires is strong impact. Hitting a rock, for instance, while navigating over rough terrains, such as when using an off-road electric scooter, at high speeds can be an example of such an impact. Riding over a rock quickly causes air to quickly reposition to other portions of the tire. The effect is comparable to squeezing an inflated balloon at its center with your fingers.
The air has to go somewhere, so it moves to other parts of the balloon. If the walls cannot support such displacement, the balloon pops. For the same reason of an instantaneous increase in air pressure inside the tire, the tire can also pop.
Insufficient Or Excessive Air Pressure Application
A commonly overlooked cause of flat tires is simply not filling the tire with the appropriate level of air. Neither results in ideal usability conditions. Having the tire be filled with too little air will increase the contact area between the ground and the tire, increasing driving resistance. It will also work to increase the wear of the surface, shortening the tire’s tread.
If the tire pressure is too high, the contact area decreases, reducing the tire’s grim. This is especially risky when the slipping risk is high, such as when the tire moves through a wet area. If the ground is too hot, this also increases the chances of the tire popping.
Improper Tire Installation
If the tire seems to be working well, many don’t consider that the tire is not installed correctly. When installing a tire, it is important to assure that the inner edge fits closely with the rim and is intact.
Some people mistakenly set the tire in the opposite direction of the rotation that the tire is intended to experience, reducing the tire’s efficacy and lifespan. It is important to pay attention to these aspects when a new tire is installed.
Lack Of Regular Maintenance
As many as 80% of scooter riders rarely perform maintenance on their tires, never mind regularly. If the tires are dirty, they might be wiped down. However, this is nowhere near enough to protect tires and increase their longevity.
By not regularly maintaining tires it is easy to overlook the loss of tread and forming cracks. Ignoring these defections increases the chances of getting a flat tire in the middle of a ride.
Preventing Flat Tires
So how would you go about preventing the above noted common tire-related mistakes and oversights?
Assure of Adequate Tire Pressure
Keeping the tire pressure in the appropriate range is the most efficient way to keep the tires in good shape. Tires on most scooters have a recommended tire pressure of 40-60 psi. Consider the Varla Electric Scooter for instance.
The tire sidewall notes that the maximum pressure is 50, but the recommended tire pressure should fall between 35 and 45 psi. It is recommended the tire pressure is lowered slightly when the weather gets hot and increased slightly when the weather is cold. However, at no point should it surpass 50 psi.
Adding Tire Sealant
If your tires do end up going flat, you can use tire sealant to repair the punctured area in most cases. A sealant can also be an excellent way to reduce the chances of punctures by applying it to the surface of the tire.
Installing A Tire Liner
Tire liners are another method of reducing the risk of tire punctures. The liner is installed between the inner tube and outer tube of the tire. It is a simple, inexpensive fix that yields terrific benefits.
Since the scooter’s tire is the only part to touch the ground, it will inevitably collect dirt and debris, much of which can compress into the tread. As the debris packs into the tire, it degrades the tire by adding wear, which ultimately leads to the tire wall being more vulnerable to punctures.
For this reason, we recommend cleaning the wheel every two weeks and applying a foaming wheel and tire cleanser once monthly for a deeper clean. We also recommend using Black tire shine aerosol to protect the tires by strengthening the rubber and mitigating the chances of cracks on the tire’s outer layer.
How you ride will be a significant factor in how well your scooter tires will be kept up. If you have ridden in excess of 1500 to 2000 miles on city streets, it is likely time for a tire check, or potentially a replacement.
If your preferred riding terrain is rough, and you like to race around quickly while braking often, tire replacements should be more frequent (about every 1000 miles). Reduction in sudden braking and choosing to ride on a smoother terrain can extend the life of the tire significantly by comparison.
Replacing Work Out, Old Tires
There are a few signs of tire wear to look out for. These can indicate the need that it is time to change the tires.
- If the tread begins to smooth, wearing down to less than 1mm, the tire’s side will protrude more, indicating that it has experienced excessive wear. This will mean that its grip to the ground will be minimal and is a sure sign of needing to be changed.
- If the outer surface of the tire shows signs of cracking, it is indicative of the tire being compromised, being more susceptible to being punctured when ridden.
- If the inner tube becomes visible through the skin of the tire, the tire should be replaced as soon as possible.
Replacing the inner tube is a process that needs to be understood ahead of encountering a necessity to do so. That way, if a problem with the inner tube is encountered suddenly, you will have a firm understanding of how it should be handled.
Changing tires from city tires to off-road tires is a relatively simple procedure you can do on your own, replacing the inner tube is much harder. If you follow our operator guide and have the following tools in hand, you can make the changes on your own.
- An assembly tool
- A 30cm high stool
- A pump
- A wrench (either an 18mm or an adjustable torque)
You can replace any tires that are no longer durable on your scooter, like on the Varla Eagle One.
But to keep that process for being necessary only occasionally, daily maintenance of tires is essential. The goal should always be to extend the life of the tire with proper care.
So save time, save money, and scoot with safety.