photo of bicycle tire
Extreme heat may cause bicycle tires to crack, warp, or burst.

URBANA, Ill. – Recreational equipment takes a beating from intense summer sunshine. Proper care will extend the life and may avoid unexpected and dangerous breakdowns.

"Ultraviolet radiation penetrating the skin can have cumulative negative effects of human health," says Curt Sinclair, University of Illinois Extension 4-H natural resource specialist. "Although some manufactured materials are unaffected, many materials, such as rubber, vinyl, leather, and many plastics, suffer degradation with prolonged exposure to direct sunlight."

The effect may be extreme during summer months when people use recreational equipment, such as vehicles, bicycles, boats, motorcycles, saddles, and fishing. Bicycles tires crack, warp, and weaken in direct sun, making them unsafe. 

"Fishing line is quickly impacted by UV rays, making it weak and brittle," Sinclair says. "It’s no wonder rock climbers store the ropes they use inside UV resistant bags whenever they are not being used. The integrity of that rope is literally their life line."

In the direct sunlight, paint and decals of recreational vehicles may fade and plastics may turn brittle. Headlamp covers may turn cloudy as the UV rays change the chemical compounds of these materials, making them undesirable and unsafe.

"Vehicle tires depend on proper air pressures to operate safely, but hot summer temperatures will cause the inside pressure to expand as the road surface temperatures heat," Sinclair says. "Tires that get too hot can explode from the pressure, so monitor them with a tire gauge."

Careful storage away from the sun can extend the life of recreational equipment and reduce the risk of unexpected breakdowns and accidents.

SOURCE: Curt Sinclair, 4-H Natural Resource Specialist, Illinois Extension

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