I started this article as a full on bicycle recycle post but quickly realized that if I wanted to talk about recycling the aluminum and other metals used as bicycle parts that would have to be a whole ‘nother post. So today we’re just going to explore how to recycle or reuse a blown inner tube.
Next time your bicycle inner tube is trashed beyond repair don’t toss it in the trash. A damaged inner tube can be recycled in a number of ways around the house, to make a fashion statement or put back to use on your bike.
Inner Tube Belt
If you’d like to try your hand at making a bicycle tire belt check out this tutorial at Open Design Club.
Bicycle Tire Cuff
Bicycle Tube Leaf Earrings
Tire tubes can be used to fasten a milk crate or other basket to the rack on your bike. You can cut them across so that you have a long tie and then cut them into thinner strips is you like. Since the rubber is stretchy and pliable but not slippery it holds a knot quite well.
You could use this same idea to tie down a tarp or in other places where you might have used a bungee cord. You could even make your own bungee cord by punching a hole in each end of a length of inner tube, insert an S-hook or snap-hook and you’ve got your bungee cord.
Bicycle Chain Stay Protector
Those of you who ride a lot know that one annoying feature of the chain and sprocket transmission is the chain slapping on the chain stay. Besides being an irritating noise this also wreaks havoc on your paint job. An easy solution is to save the tube from your next flat. If it has a small hole in it, patch it up and use it for later, of course; but if the hole is too big to patch you can recycle it as a as a chain stay protector.
Cut the tube into a piece the length of your bike’s chain stay and split it up the middle length-wise. Clean the tube with solvent and rub with sandpaper to make it easier for the glue to adhere. Wrap the chain stay with the tube, making sure to cover it all the way to the dropout. Stretch the tube around and glue it into place by placing a bead of glue on the outside of the tube and rolling the other side of the tube over the glued portion. This will work best if the seam is on top of the chain stay facing either in or out. Tip: before gluing attach the inside part of the tube with a bit of tape to make it easier to stretch the tube tight. The tube will cover the tape once it’s glued in place.
A piece of tire can be used to hang your bike from a ceiling. Measure the distance between your seat and your handle bars. Nail two tubes to the ceiling according to your measurements.
Emergency Sidewall Repair
If you get a tear in the sidewall of your bicycle tire, your tube might be beyond patching as well. This isn’t a permanent solution but you can save your ride by cutting the punctured tube into a piece large enough to patch the sidewall. Glue the piece of tube over the hole on the inside of the tire. If you’re not carrying glue, place the patch over the hole and let the new tube press it in place. In the case of a very big hole use several layers of inner tube. Now carefully ride to your destination or to a repair shop.
Seal a drafty window or door with a length of inner tube cut to fit.
Cut the inner tube into the size you need to protect things from bumping each other. Cut small custom-sized pieces to place between your bike and an item you’re clamping to it to keep from scratching the paint.
Cut once across the tire so that it is a long tube. Run a chain through the tube to keep the chain from bumping and scratching other items.
You don’t often find a need for a giant rubber band very often, but when you do an old inner tube can be quite handy. Just slice the tube into rubber bands of the thickness you desire, keeping in mind that the thicker the band the less stretch it will have.
Check out Hollow Tops tutorial for making your own sandals from tires.
Wow! I never knew until I started researching this article just how many ways an inner tube can be used. I can’t wait until my next flat tire!