Today’s QT comes to us from Premium Member Richard M., who offers a few suggestions for what you might do with your old tubes after a puncture. I’ll chime in after Richard to tell you the most common thing I use my old tubes for. And I invite you to share your own uses below. It seems that of all the old bike stuff, tubes have about a million and one uses.
Here’s what Richard wrote:
I have given up patching inner tubes. Too many times, when I needed a spare and had a patched tube, I found the patch no longer held.
I have also needed to lend a new tube to companions experiencing similar issues.
I have found that cutting up punctured tubes can make nice rubber bands for storing ear phone and charger cords. Also, living with cats, running cables and power cords through an old inner tube keeps the cats from biting the cords (and also helps prevent cords and cables from becoming a tangled mess).
My Own Favorite Use for Old Tubes:
For years, I’ve been cutting differing lengths of old tubes and storing them in my car, and near my workstand.
They make just about the perfect tie-downs for when I carry bikes on my car’s hitch rack. Anywhere on the bikes that might clang together in transit, I simply grab an appropriate length of tube and tie those pieces together.
The tube tie-downs are also great for keeping wheels from moving, both on the car and in the workstand. There are times while working on your bike that you want the front wheel to be immobile. Simply wrap a section of tube around the rim and tie it off behind the down tube.
The best thing about the tube sections is that the consistency of the butyl rubber holds fast to itself, making a nearly slip-proof knot. But it’s also quite easy to untie when you’re done.
Next Article: Dealing With Hearing Loss While Riding
Zvi Wolf says
I used a section of tube to make a chain slap protector for the right chainstay of my MTB. You can use small pieces to protect your bike and prevent movement when mounting things to the frame or seat post. Another thing I’ve used old tubes for is to hold non-locking file cabinets closed when moving them. The uses are pretty much endless.
Greg Titus says
I used to patch tubes, but, like Richard M., don’t anymore. Just not worth the bother. But back in the days when I did patch, I’d put the patched tube on the wheel and carry a new one for my spare. That way the patched tube proved it’s reliability (some I’d use for over a year), and I’d always have a new reliable spare on the bike. Using a patched tube for your spare when you haven’t ridden on it is taking an obvious risk…you’re testing it at a time when it’s critical that it has to work and you don’t really know if it will or not. A new spare tube is much more reliable.
I still patch tubes using glueless patches, which for me can hold up for the life of the tube which is around 5 to 8 years. I’m not going to spend $9 on a tube every time I get a flat, what a waste of resources. I’ve had as many as 15 glueless patches on a tube.
Anyway, uses for old tubes, those of you that have CF bikes can wrap an old tube tightly around the chainstay to prevent chain slap from damaging the CF stay. If you have problems with loose bottles or stainless steel bottles that rattle too much simply wrap the portion of the bottle that contacts the cage with an old tube, no more possible ejections and no more noise. You can cut an old tube and use it as a tire liner to reduce flats. Those with fenders can make a rubber end flap and glue it on the end of the fender. If you’re into knitting or crocheting (not sure which is the correct term since I don’t do either) you could save up a bunch of tubes and make yourself a doormat, or have someone who knows how to make one! The doormat comes out looking pretty good too, I had a friend into crocheting I think it is, and she made one and it looks better than the ones you find at home improvement places, and the durability is quite high.
SCOTT LODER says
I’ve tried patching tubes with glueless patches without success. Any tips on making it work?
Use Park ‘clueless’ patches. The only ones I have had success with.
No connection to Park, just a happy customer.
Harald Portig says
I have passed a chain that I use to lock up my bike through an old tube. In this way the links of the chain will not ding the paint.
David Ertl says
If you plant trees and stake them up, tubes are great for wrapping aroundthe stem to stabilize it and doesn’t harm the tree trunk. I recently planted a tree and fortunately got a flat soon after to use for my tree. From now on I’m going to keep a stash of tubes on hand so I don’t need to wait for the next flat to plant a tree.
Jim Mason says
I keep a stash for exactly the same purpose and occacsionaly other tying situations.
Mark "Killa" Barrilleaux says
Here’s a photo of a slightly different, less practical use for old inner tubes – displaying my Lone Star State pride..
Don Macrae says
Very creative, Mark..
I have used an old MTB tube to make “Tires” for my desk chair to keep it from wearing out or scratching our laminated flooring. The chair has 5 spokes and on each spoke there are two plastic wheels that dirt and sand can embed into and cause scratches, I cut ten sections about 1/2 inch wide. They look sort of like rubber bands. Then I used a little Elmer’s rubber cement on each wheel to keep the sections from coming off. The chair rolling quieter is another benefit.
The company Alchemy Goods makes products out of recycled inner tubes. https://www.alchemygoods.com/pages/recycling I have a belt from them that I like.
I cut sections about 1/4″ wide, slide three of them up my right fork leg, and space them equal distance apart. I use them to hold the wire going from my light to my dynamo hub for a clean look without zip ties.
I use old tubes for a variety of uses – mostly as extra large rubber bands. I have used them to hold the bag on my kitchen trash can, wrapped them around chair legs when needing to “clamp” together as the glue dries on repair jobs, and tie downs for the whatever is in the back of the pickup truck.
Rick Ankrum says
I use patched tubes like a giant rubber band. When I used to rake my yard I would put a plastic bag in a trash can and use a tube as a band to hold the folded over part of the bag on the outside of the can. I also cut small pieces to use as cushions when I need to mount or hold something and don’t want the surfaces to rub.
A lot of great comments…a few additional.
I repair a lot of bikes and not all fit well into the Park stand because of bike tube/seat post size or shape. So, I open the clamp as needed and then “tie” the frame where it intersects the clamp with an old tube…keeps the bike from slipping out of the clamp.
When replacing a stem on a bike in the stand, I will use a tube inserted under the top of the fork and tied over the top tube…keeps the wheel/fork from falling or from having to hold it with one hand while working on the stem. Also use this when installing the upper part of a headset..
I store wheels on a metal bar suspended from the ceiling of my garage. Rather than using hooks and to prevent scratching the rims, I use strips of old tubes to just tie them so they hang under the bar.
When I am using a washer with a nut and do not want the washer to mar the surface of something, I cut a piece of old tube in the size/shape of the washer and glue it to the washer.
When taking a long trip using a hanger type of bike carrier, I will use old tubes tied around parts of the bikes which are prone to touch to prevent damage.
Jim Langley says
Great tube tips, Walt. Regarding your first one, I think you should upgrade to one of Park’s new clamps that fit almost all frame/seatpost tube sizes and shapes. You’ll love it. I reviewed one back in 2012: https://www.roadbikerider.com/park-tool-100-3d-professional-micro-adjust-repair-stand-clamp-d1/
I used to patch tubes. But now a friend and I split a box of 50 bulk tubes. We currently are using Sunlite 18-13 mm tubes with a 42 mm stem that work on all my rims except a 50mm pair. Cost is $130 shipped or $2.60 per tube. Works for us.
I cut about 2-3″ of tube and slide it over 16gr co2 cartridges so I don’t freeze my hands when blowing up a flat after repair.
Chas Blackford says
Wow, a few suggestions I’d never thought of – never underestimate the ingenuity of a cyclist!
When I’m not riding I’m making art. I’ve used surplus tubes in a number of sculptures, mostly weaving them with sticks to create interesting textural surfaces. I, know, hard to imagine so please check out a couple of examples on my website:
Scroll down to Uncertain Journey
Scroll down to Sikuli:
John Tonetti says
I put CO2 cartridges inside a 1″-2″ piece of cut inner tube. It keeps them from rattling in the bag, and also from freezing your fingers when you have to use them.
I cut the stem out and use the tubes as stretching bands.
Rick Andrew says
Green Guru makes eco friendly bicycle seat bags and other bike related products out of recycled inner tubes. Made in USA too! Out of Colorado I think. At greengurugear.com.
Andrea M. says
Great ideas! I use old tubes as shims for a variety of needs.
For example, I put it around or inside a clamp for my bike’s light. It looks fairly decent and doesn’t slide,