How to Get Your Bike Tire Tread Direction Right

If you’re relatively new to biking, you have probably run into many little questions that you never would have thought to ask before starting to ride. One of them might be: What is the right bike tire tread direction?

Yes, bike tires are directional. What’s more, it matters that you attach and use your bike tires correctly.

tread of a bike tire showing the arrows pointing toward the front of the bike

Let’s look at how to tell which way bike tires should face, how to make sure they’re attached to your bike properly, and why it matters.

Which Direction Do Bike Tires Face?

The right way, of course! If you take a good look at your bike tires, you’ll notice that there are arrows printed all along them. As you may have already figured, the tire should roll in the direction of the arrows.

Tread of a bike tire
Bike tires will almost always have arrows on them, or treads that ‘point’ in a certain direction. In this example, the bike should be rolling toward you because that’s where it’s tread is pointing.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your tires are properly attached (and inflated), especially if you put them on yourself or bought your bicycle second-hand. Simply locate one of the arrows on the tire. While focusing on it, roll your bike forward. The tire should move in the direction of the arrow.

Many tire sets also designate a specific tire for the front and the other for the rear. In this case, it matters that you have the front tire on the front of the bike and the rear tire on the back. The tires will say “front” and “rear” on them. Improper placement of tires can cause damage to the bike, injure the rider or even cause an accident.

Why Does Bike Tire Direction Matter?

There are a few reasons why bike tires are directional and why you must be sure your tires are properly attached. The most important has to do with tread and traction, which is especially crucial if you ride off-road or in inclement weather—particularly wet conditions. The tread helps optimize the connection between the tire and the ground, which is rather important for safety and speed. If the tires are attached backward, the tread will not work correctly.

In addition, front and rear tires are often designed differently. The front tires are designed for braking and steering while the rear tires are optimized to deliver power and speed.

Bike Tires Need to be Attached Correctly

While it is recommended that you rotate car tires, the same principle does not apply to bikes. For both safety and performance, bike tires are directional, and the proper placement and direction must be maintained at all times.