Mountain biking is a great way to have fun in the outdoors, however there are certain things that you should take care to check if you want to ride with your mind at ease. One of these is to make sure that your tires installed properly so that they do not pop on you.
Depending on if you are referring to tubed tires or tubeless tires, both pop more easily if the tire is old, however this is in different ways. Tubed tires that are old do tend to pop more easily in that the tubes can burst, meanwhile tubeless tires that are old also can pop in that the bead comes off of the rim due to not having enough sealant or due to getting too hard.
Either way, a tire popping on you is not a good thing, especially not if you are in the middle of nowhere on a mountain biking trail. Knowing of few of the other things that can cause tires to pop can be helpful to know as well as knowing just why an old tire is more likely to pop.
Reasons Why A Tubed Tire Might Pop
As a tire ages the rubber often gets hard, especially if you store your bike outdoors in direct sunlight. If you are doing a lot of mountain biking then you are wearing out the tread which might not have the time to harden then, however if you have a long stretch of time when you are not riding your bike at all then the rubber may even look a slightly different color as it hardens.
When the tire hardens it also becomes more brittle. This means that instead of bending when you hit something in the trail that the rubber will be more inclined to crack and split. If the tire gets bad enough of a crack in it or if it is really hard then it is perfectly possible to pop your inner tube this way.
However, the inner tube also deteriorates over time and, though it is extremely rare, it is perfectly possible for your inner tube to pop on you simply because you left it out in the sun on a really hot day. But that would only be likely if it managed to live to being a few years old and had been out in the weather for at least a fair portion of that time.
If you keep getting your tube popped and cannot figure out what is causing it, then there are a few possibilities of things that it could be. One of these is that you went over something like glass and a piece of glass that you missed is still stuck somewhere in the rubber of the tire and that it pokes the tube anytime a rock happens to hit that spot.
In order to prevent something like this from happening it is vital that you make sure that you get every single piece or glass, automotive tire wire, or anything else that might get imbedded in your tread out. If this is what is causing your tube to pop then you may notice that this happens at roughly the same spot of the tube every time.
Since it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint an exact spot to know if this really is what is happening, you can use something like a piece of duct tape or a silver permanent marker or something that will show on the tire as a way of marking the spot. This will also be helpful when it comes to helping you find the exact spot that the glass might be.
Sometimes though there is nothing in the tire and it is simply because there happens to be a small hole or slit in the rubber at a certain spot. Depending on what made the cut you may not even really see it until you go pulling around on your tire on that spot, but if it is big enough to let a thorn through to puncture the tube then it is big enough to cause your tube to get holes in it as you ride along and it should be patched up.
If, on the other hand, the hole seems to be at the same spot but it is mysteriously on the inside of the tube next to the rim, then it is most likely due to one of the tire spokes or something poking it on the inside. To fix this and to prevent this from happening you should be using rim tape even with tubed tires in order to protect your tube.
Another reason why tubes in a tuber tire can pop is because there is not the right amount of air pressure in it. Too little air pressure can cause the cause the tube to get a kink in it and to either burst or to get what is known as a pinch flat. You can also get this type of a flat by airing up the tire too fast when there is a kink in it. For this reason you should install the tube with a little air already in it.
An air pressure that is too high can also lead to blowout, more so when the weather gets hot. This is because as air gets hot it expands some, so if the tire already has as much air as it will hold then this can make the tube pop with the pressure. In addition to when the weather is hot, this can also happen when the tire heats due to riding on hot surfaces or by a lot of braking like you might end up doing if you are doing a lot of downhill riding.
Reasons Why A Tubeless Tire Might Pop
As mentioned, in an old tire the rubber can get hard and therefore brittle. This brittleness means that a tubeless tire is more likely to pop its bead when you hit a really hard bump in the trail because it will be more rigid and will have less bend to it.
However, since tubeless tires literally are their own tube, they can pop just like an inner tube can, and this is also more likely to happen when the tire gets old due to the hardening of the rubber. In this case though the rubber only has to get one big crack in it from being hard in order to pop.
Another option for why a tubeless tire can pop off of its rim or simply pop like a tube is that the rim tape can be damaged in some way. The job of the rim tape is to act as the inside part of the tube and to help hold air inside of the rim, especially on tires that were not made with tubeless tires in mind.
Sometimes the spokes protrude on the inside, and there can even be a part of the nipple and other things that are potentially spiky. If these poke through the rim tape then you could end up with a slow leaking of air. Another reason that you could end up with a slow leak is due to a small hole somewhere in the tire that the sealant is not taking care of either because the sealant is not working or because you do not have enough of it.
In either of these cases the bead of your tire is much more likely to pop out of place once you get to a certain pressure that is too low for it to handle. Of course, you are likely to notice and fix the low pressure before this happens, however if you are riding at too low of a pressure by choice then you should be aware that this can happen.
Finally, another reason why a tubeless tire can pop is because it was not installed properly. If the bead or the rim is damaged in any way then it can prevent the tire from getting a good seal on it and could make it pop off.