Rotate Front & Back Bicycle Tires? Myths and Facts of Tire Rotation & How to Rotate Tires

Rotate Front & Back Bicycle Tires? Myths and Facts of Tire Rotation & How to Rotate Tires

It is common for a front tire to outlast a rear tire by as much as three to one. Rear tires have more weight on them, and also have to deal with drivetrain forces and therefore tire wear is more prominent. This disparity in tread life is made worse in the case cyclists who rely on their rear brake which you should not do since the front brake and tire supply most of your braking power (See our video on How to Brake Like a Pro). Well-meaning cyclists, even some mechanics who don’t know any better, sometimes try to deal with this by swapping tires, putting the less worn front tire on the back wheel, and moving the worn-but-usable rear tire to the front. The idea is to equalize tire wear on the two tires, but this is a serious mistake, since, as mentioned, the front tire supplies most of the breaking power and that’s where you want your best tire.

How to rotate bike tires: The only time tire rotation is appropriate on a bicycle is when you are replacing the rear tire. If you feel like taking the trouble, and use the same type of tire front and rear, you should move the front tire (provided it looks good without nicks, cuts, tear or sidewall damage) to the rear wheel, and install the new tire in front (how to make your tyres last longer).

Mountain bike tires are another story in that the tire makers are now designing the front and back differently with the rear having a tread to grab into the dirt and mud and the front designed for stopping power, in which case – bike tyres rotation is a bad idea.

Also remember that many bike tires have rotational markings on the sidewall. This is especially important with threaded tires to give you the best performance in terms of power, cornering and stopping. With slick road tires, it’s probably more cosmetic, at least in my opinion.


  1. William Grissom on January 19, 2023 at 3:12 am

    Many people suggest orienting the "arrows" in the tread in different directions for front and rear tires. At the top, the arrows should point forward on the front tire and point aft on the rear tire. That lets the "V" at the bottom contact "scoop mud" in the front when braking and "push mud" at the rear when driving. It also makes the top of the front tire more aerodynamic (arrowheads go into the wind). If true, how is the directional arrow on some tires to be interpreted? Is that the direction to install it on the rear wheel? If so, should you install it the other way on the front?

  2. trackie1957 on January 19, 2023 at 3:20 am

    Nice IF frame, Tony! From Summerville, MA, a hotbed of frame builders (Merlin, Fat Chance, Seven, etc.) My favorite road bike is a Peter Mooney, from the next town over, Belmont. A 40th birthday present to myself, it’s 24 years old now and I will not part with it!

  3. trackie1957 on January 19, 2023 at 3:21 am

    I tend to use the front brake more than the rear, but I’ll still go through at least 2 rear tires for every front. Rotating tires just is a waste of time and money.

  4. Ashid ASD on January 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Hi sir , yesterday i decided to clean my bottom bracket so i took everything of and cleaned then i decided to reinstall but when a checked my grease can nothing left in it . Due to the pandemic shops all closed, can’t even do online shopping, so can i use vaseline or something instead of grease

  5. Rudy Gold on January 19, 2023 at 3:23 am

    Thanks for this Tony!

  6. Roman Lozynskyi on January 19, 2023 at 3:27 am

    As always great explanation. Thank you! And also perfect timing as I’ve recently started thinking about swapping tyres between the front and back wheel. You saved me from making a mistake πŸ™‚

  7. Anthony Rothfork on January 19, 2023 at 3:27 am

    Thanks for clearing that up.

  8. George C on January 19, 2023 at 3:28 am

    A nice explanation of ‘proper’ rotation! It’s always good to hear an informed second opinion on ‘directional’ road tires. I’ve always wondered how important the direction is, and put them on the ‘correct’ way just in case. Thanks Tony

  9. Gabriel Barbosa on January 19, 2023 at 3:29 am

    I was ablut to rotate my tires to try for a more even wear. Before doing it I just google if, and how, I should do it. I’m not going to do that anymore. Thanks for the tips!

  10. Jozef SK on January 19, 2023 at 3:32 am

    off topic: Whats your opinion on fixing broken parts instead of just buying and swapping a new one? I know that bike shops have incentive to just replace stuff, but so many times its just one broken piece inside a shifter or a torn spacer in the freehub body. Yet I cant find any spare parts, I have to either buy a new whole assembly or get a replacement part from a donor part. Its so frustrating that I feel like I am the only person who fixes broken parts, gotta fabricate everything from scratch…

  11. Bob Bagley on January 19, 2023 at 3:32 am

    Such informative and useful content. Thank you again Tony!

  12. T Mayberry on January 19, 2023 at 3:34 am

    I’ve got a new tire on the rear with 21.92 miles on it. I noticed the threads are starting to show in three places. Why would that happen with so little miles?

  13. Alex Mark on January 19, 2023 at 3:37 am

    Hi, if I just replaced one new tyre in the front, and the old front one rotated to the back. Is it ok if the brand and treads are different (road bike) ?

  14. Brian Phillips on January 19, 2023 at 3:40 am

    Thanks Tony

  15. Tim Y on January 19, 2023 at 3:47 am

    Wow, eye opening for this novice. Thank you.

  16. Alejandro Romero Reyes on January 19, 2023 at 3:47 am

    Thank you, very useful tip.

  17. Saleh_ hma on January 19, 2023 at 3:51 am

    Thanks alot, I’ve a question, why road bike tyre no direction arrow?

  18. Golden Fleece on January 19, 2023 at 3:52 am

    I I recently just rotated my mountain bike tires. I still have to purchase two brand new tires anyway thanks for the great tip.πŸš΄β€β™€οΈ

  19. Paul Desjardins on January 19, 2023 at 3:54 am

    That made a lot of sense, thank you for the advice

  20. chocoluckystar on January 19, 2023 at 3:57 am

    For slick tires without wear indicator markings, how to know when to change?

  21. Randy on January 19, 2023 at 3:59 am

    Got a new bike in Jan 2020 and had to replace rear tire at 2,000 miles due to wear. Now at 3,000 miles and front tire looks nearly new.

  22. Andrethetiny on January 19, 2023 at 4:09 am

    Had no idea. A buddy recommended swapping tires every now and then. Good to know I don’t have to