9 Hacks to Upcycle Your Inner Tubes

Marc Lindsay
by Marc Lindsay
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9 Hacks to Upcycle Your Inner Tubes

As we become more attuned to waste and trying to find multiple lives for our possessions, there’s an obvious opportunity for cyclists: inner tubes. Flatting is never fun, and while patching and reusing tubes as many times as you can is still the number 1 way to recycle old tubes, there comes a time when they just won’t hold air like you need them to.

Instead of tossing them, there are plenty of ways you can get more use out of those old rubber tubes. Check out these nine hacks to save money and put your inner tubes to use for years to come.



You know those little protectors you have to buy for your frame to keep the paint from chipping when your chain slaps against it? An old inner tube works just as well as those $15 strips of plastic you buy online. Simply cut a section of the inner tube and wrap it around your frame, then secure it with a few pieces of electrical tape and you’ve got yourself a frame protector.



After you adjust your helmet so the straps fit snugly under your chin, you’ll likely have an extra bit of strap that dangles from the buckle. Some helmets come with a piece to secure the leftover, but those tear easily, leaving you with a small problem that can become bothersome (ever descend with that extra strap slapping your cheek? No fun). To remedy this, cut a small section of the inner tube width-wise and slide it over the buckle for a new helmet strap.



Heavy chains make for terrifically sturdy and hard to break bike locks. The problem is that some chain locks don’t have a protective covering, and can scratch your bike frame when you secure it. To prevent this from happening, use an old mountain bike tube to cover your chain and protect your frame. Cut the tube to the desired length and slide it over the chain for an easy solution.



Repair stands and storage racks for your bike can be expensive. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, try tying your old inner tubes to the ceiling in your garage and hanging your bike by the saddle. You can adjust the height easily to your preferences, and even if you don’t need it for storage, it can be a really quick and easy way to elevate your bike to perform basic maintenance jobs like cleaning your chain or cassette.



Vents in the bottom of your cycling shoes do a great job of keeping your feet cool during the summer by circulating airflow. However, during the winter, these vents can make it difficult to keep your feet warm. To keep the air out when it’s cold, line the inside of your shoe beneath the insole with your old mountain bike inner tube. To do it, cut the tube lengthwise and place an insole on top. Cut around the insole to get the sizing right.



Thicker handlebar tape is more expensive because of the extra cushion. The bad news is, it wears out just as fast. To save a little money, upgrade your cheaper bar tape by wrapping your handlebars with your old inner tubes before wrapping it with bar tape. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how cushy and shock-absorbing this hack is.



Punctures are a problem and the reason you have inner tubes lying around the garage in the first place. To add an extra layer of protection and keep small, sharp objects from reaching your new inner tubes, use your old tubes to line your tires. You can either use the entire deflated tube as is or cut it for a single layer of extra puncture protection.



If you’re like me, then you probably like the convenience of C02 cartridges over a mini pump. They’re easy to carry in a jersey pocket and air up your tire to a suitable psi with minimal effort. On the downside, if you carry more than one, the metal canisters can clink together during your ride. To make a silencer, cut a few small sections of inner tube and fit it around each of your canisters or wrap them around the canister as needed.



You know those different colored resistance bands physical therapists use to strengthen and tone? Well, cutting up your inner tubes and tying them to a door handle or bedpost works just as well. To make your exercises more difficult, simply use a shorter piece of inner tube.

About the Author

Marc Lindsay
Marc Lindsay

Marc is a freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Portland State University and is a certified physical therapy assistant. An avid cyclist and runner of over 20 years, Marc contributes to LAVA, Competitor and Phoenix Outdoor magazines. He is the former cycling editor for Active.com.


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