When Should I Replace My Bike Rims?

Are your bike wheels not feeling right? How often should you replace your bike rims? Find out the when and the why changing them is important!

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Bike rims on a wall

When I got my first mountain bike, it lasted a couple of years before I realized I needed a new MTB rim. After replacing the rear tire twice in six months, I decided to visit my local bike shop and get a second opinion on what was going on with my bike.

I was stunned by how fast they diagnosed the problem. The store manager looked at my bike rim and instantly saw the problem. At that moment, I realized I needed to take better care of all parts of my bike, including the bike rims. Some signs let you know your bike rim is bad, and you want to keep an eye out for them.

When Should I Replace My Bike Rims?

There isn’t a set mileage for bike rims like there are tires. This is simply because a well-maintained bike rim will last you for thousands of miles and even several tires before they need to be replaced.

If you notice that the rim is warping, and you have to replace tires or put a lot of air in them when they are fine, then it is probably time to replace the bike rim.

If you do not take the time to replace your bike rim when it is time, you can find yourself financially and possibly physically in trouble. Having to keep up with repairs on your bike can end up costing you more than the cost of the rim itself over time. 

Also, if your rim is terrible, and you continue riding on it, it could make the damage worse. It could lead to the rim breaking and causing your bike to fail when riding. Being out on a trail away from others and in an area with poor cell service is not where you want to be when it decides to finish breaking.

Man repairing bike in workshop

Signs My Bike Rims Are Wearing Out

Before I had to start replacing damaged tires on my bike, I believe the writing was on the wall for the bad rim since a few of the signs below were there.

  • Constant loss of air in the tire
  • Damage to tires is happening in the same place
  • The groove was no longer there

Constant Loss Of Tire Air

This was probably the first sign that the rim was going bad.

My bike was on its second set of tires, but only the rear tire kept deflating every few days. This started happening more frequently until I got to a trail where I put in the air before the ride and had to add more after only a 12.5-mile ride!

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Damage To The Tire

When the rim is warped or bent in a particular area, it will start to wear the tire down in that place. This can rub a hole into your tire, and you must replace the tire and the rim on your bike.

In my case, there was a hole in the tire, and it was about an inch away from where the rim ended up breaking. All it takes is a slight bend, even beneath the tire, and it will start to cause additional friction against the rubber.

Sometimes, you will not see the damage happening until it is over!

Related article – When Do You Change Your Mountain Bike Tires?

Damaged bike tire

Your Rim Groove Is Missing

While you may not realize it, there is usually a groove or a hole on some types of rims.

They will let you know when the rim needs to be replaced because they will smooth it out. Not all rims have these, so if you do not see one, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your rim is bad.

If you haven’t had any other signs, it may not exist!

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What Caused My Bike Rim To Wear Out?

There are a few things that can cause your bike rims to wear out. If you do these consistently enough over time with your bike, it will cause them to bend and then ultimately crack – needing to be replaced!

  • Rims double as braking surfaces
  • Riding over potholes
  • Excessive jumping and poor landings

Rims Double As Braking Surfaces

Since your bike has front and rear brakes, they must attach to something to help you stop and slow down when necessary. Because of a mountain bike’s design, the rim is a surface if you have caliper rim brakes. 

Disc brakes, however, do not affect the rim. Most mountain bike models have moved to disc brakes. This probably isn’t a concern of yours, but something to keep in mind if you have one of the few models that do. For example, if you use an older mountain bike, this may apply to you.

Woman fixing a bike

Potholes And Trail Damage

When you take your mountain bike along trails or just around the neighborhood for a ride, you need to avoid potholes and unevenness on the trails.

The pressure that comes with a sudden drop or fall can cause your bicycle rim to shift or start doing a slight bend. This is similar to driving a car, hitting potholes, altering the alignment, and wearing down wheels.

Many of the trails I have taken through a few mountain ranges also seem uneven. Especially in the mountain ranges after a good rain or Spring when the snow has melted down. When I first started mountain biking, I didn’t take this seriously enough.

It is probably a big part of why my rim needed to be replaced because of the trails I regularly took, especially in the spring months or late fall after rainstorms.

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Excessive Jumping

Some trails require you to challenge yourself and take a few small jumps.

When biking, you need to know how to make these jumps and have smooth landings. This is important for your bike as a whole, including the rim. Too much pressure coming down on your rim can crack a weak area that is already bending.

Stock rims that come on most mountain bikes can handle some of these hard trails or stunt riding for a limited time. However, if it is something you plan to do long-term, you may need to make a new rim choice for replacement.

Jumping mountain bike

Can I Upgrade My Bike Rims?

No matter what type of mountain bike you have, you do have the option to upgrade your bike rims if it is time to replace them. You know how you plan to ride; if the stock rims are not strong enough, then you know it’s time. 

Know what size rim your bike takes and choose a new set for your next ride. You need to consider various factors so that it is right for you when you make that investment.

Some of the more popular aftermarket rims are Superstar, Moto, DT Swiss, and Bontrager Line. These sets consider the type of riding you are doing on your mountain bike and adapt to your preferences.

If you want challenging trails and lots of jumps, you need a set of rims that can accommodate that pressure change and stay strong when landing.

Not all bike rims are made from the same material, either, so understand that you can go with durable metal and even lighter than others if speed is your concern. Carbon fiber is the lightest material (and expensive!), but aluminum is the most common rim you will find on the market.

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