How can I reuse or recycle bike inner tubes?

bicycle tyreWe’ve already covered the wheel rims but Erika has emailed asking:

I was wondering if there were any ideas about old bike tubes….

I’m presuming we’re talking inner tubes anyway – it’s quite possible there is another type of bike tube since I’m not a terribly keen cyclist – I live at the top of a steep hill and prefer to tackle it on foot. If there is some other ‘bike tube’, please feel free to answer about both ;)

(Photo by kikashi)

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38 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle bike inner tubes?”


  1. apathetic says:

    Cut them up to make rubber bands.

  2. Bryan says:

    If you’ve had a small puncture you might be able to put a patch on it and continue using it. Park Tool makes a little box of stick on patches that work very well. Those and a pump and a tire lever will keep you rolling.

    I’ve also seen people wrap an old tube around the chainstay to reduce the noise of chain slap that occurs on some rear suspension mountain bikes.

    I’m thinking that if you had enough tubes you could cut them lengthwise and somehow bind them (heat) to make sheets of rubber for..i dunno mats? chaps? weather stripping? shoes? rubber is pretty versatile.

    The air valves aren’t needed for most of these so those would be a sub-item to recycle how

    • merrick says:

      I know someone who made it into sheets of rubber for a miniskirt, boobtube and choker set that she wore to a fetish night. The valve was left in to use as a sort of fastener.

      Thing is, once it got warm the glue went sticky and the whole thing came apart. Whilst this was appreciated by numerous observers, it wasn’t the desired effect.

      Still, with a better glue I reckon she’d be on to a winner.

  3. twinks says:

    Cut them up in small arch sections, when placed side by side they make a scalloped edge for a garden (attach to wire or sticks to make a decorative low fence)
    Or attach pieces to the sides/end of your garage where your vehicle (hopefully hybrid or less) doors may bang against walls or other objects.
    Cut out a wood dog leaping (check cartoon dogs in Google images) and hang da puppy from the centre of the reinforced tube as a piece of yard art.

  4. Brent says:

    I’ve seen them used for making tables and chairs along with the rims. Here’s a website that sells them. I made a table and used them to make a pad on the bottom of the legs. I tried to make patches from old tubes but the glue becoming tacky again was a problem. Water balloon launchers are popular at my college.

  5. Brent says:

    I forgot to put the website on there.
    http://www.bikefurniture.com/pagesSeating/modtype2a.htm Sorry.

  6. diana says:

    i use tire tubes to tie young trees to stakes.

  7. Paul says:

    We currently recycle old inner tubes from our local bike shop and transform them into trouser clips which we sell via the website http://www.ecoutlet.co.uk

    The stretchy nature of the material is perfect for the job and the trouser clips seem to be going down well with customers so far. If anyone has any inner tubes they would like to donate please feel free to send them in and we’ll happily send a pair of trouser clips in return.

  8. Bexxx says:

    I once saw at a craft fair someone used them to make really funky wallets.

  9. Ashley says:

    I know someone who sews them together and makes bags, backpacks and diaper bags out of them.

  10. Nani-Ka says:

    My dad told me once to use them instead of clamps when you’re making a box – because they’re stretchy it holds the box securely all the way around.

  11. bel biv says:

    They also make great weather seals for windows and doors. Cut them open to make a flat piece of rubber and nail or tack to the bottom edge of the window to make a tight seal. It’s a great way to save energy.

  12. Gulia says:

    Make a dripping hose.

  13. Bad Monkey says:

    You can cut them up to make new patches for puncture repairs, or use larger sections as non-grip handles on suitable items, roll or slide them over the handles,or use the elastic to make large catapults between two trees :-)

  14. PainChaud says:

    I guess you could use them as grip under stuff like carpets or chairs and such

  15. Gary says:

    Try IT Clips: They are specially designed (Patent Pending) to transform old inner tubes in to tie-downs. Check out the web site http://www.it-clips.com to see pictures and find retailers.

  16. Gary says:

    I just introduced a new product, IT Clips and IT Hooks. IT Clips are a unique system (Patent Pending) to re-use bicycle inner tubes as tie-downs or bungee cords. Each set of IT Clips/IT Hooks come with two clips (available in 4 colors) and two metal hooks. All components are made in the Denver/Boulder area. Both clips and both hooks are exactly the same. There are no male/female pieces. The clips can be used independently of the hooks, the hooks can be used independently of the clips, and the clips and hooks can be used together. The tie downs are more flexible than standard bungee cords as they are completely adjustable. They are can also be securely linked together to make a tie-down strap of any length. The resulting tie-down straps have as many uses in biking as they do in camping, skiing, golfing, and other recreational activities. Other features that users often mention is that they are lighter than standard tie-down straps, they tend not to scratch the surface/remove paint from the item being tied down, and that the clip only mechanism is easy to use and tends not to tear clothing like standard bungee hooks can. Check out http://www.it-clips.com for more information.

  17. Pat says:

    My uncle used to make sling-shots from them, he cut a Y-shaped piece from a tree branch and used a strip of intertube for the sling.

  18. flex says:

    use them for tiying thins down in trailers, bike racks, roof racks etc. They are good for this because a simple not can hold something very securly because of the friction.

    You can also use them for any sort of padding. They are very usefull for opening jars and bottles that are hard to open

  19. Casey Guber says:

    Similar to Flex’s comments, IT-Clips is a developed solution to create tie down straps out of old inner tubes. Currently we have a clip and hook solution that are not only affordable but extremely practical. They work great in truck beds, ski-racks, dollies, etc. Check out the website and help us all go green!!!!!!

  20. Alice says:

    They’re, um, good for gently tying people up…..

  21. Trash Kitty says:

    I used to make jewellery, bags and sometimes clothing out of recycled rubber inner tubes. The problem I had was getting the dirt off without damaging the rubber. Also It’s too thick to glue so I used to punch tiny holes and thread them together with rubber lacing for seams.

  22. Palepink says:

    I make notebooks. You can see them here.
    http://www.palepink.etsy.com

  23. craig says:

    You can make elastic bands out of them. Either cut straight into them for small ones, or cut diagonally for longer ones. The thinner they are the more stretchy they are. They work as good as bands you buy. Two inner tubes should be enough bands to last you years!

  24. The elder statesman says:

    You can stitch them together to make clothing, use studs to attach buckles or D-rings, or you can punch and lace for seams.

    As has been said, wallets and notebooks work.
    Or for those with a kink, effective soft but stingy floggers work, all sorts of harnesses, blindfolds, or restraints, because they can be tight, but with flex.

    Contact adhesive works better than rubber cement too. Sticks permanently. For cleaning cut the pieces as you would want, then wash in normal soap and water and allow to dry to get the talc and dirt off them.

  25. Bertie says:

    I use whole ones as bungies on my car roof rack. They can also be used anywhere you would use a bungy such as camping. How about using one as a kind of bullworker for building muscles?

  26. alexander says:

    stretch them tight from two points, and use it as a bookshelf (http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2010/05/Bike-Tire-Shelving-System-1.jpg)

  27. Alice says:

    There’s a great thread going on the CTC (cycling Club) forums here http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=30756

    These people get through a LOT of inner tubes :-)

  28. john henry says:

    if you use a large chain to lock your bike up (which you probably do if you live in a city) you can thread the chain through inner tube cut to the same size as the chain to protect the paint job on your bike. most bike chains bought in stores already have cloth over them for this purpose but you can buy the same thickness chain in a hardware store for a quarter of the price and then reuse the inner tube from the last flat! saving money and saving waste!

  29. thijs says:

    @John Henry: make shure these are hardened chains! Often the cheap ones at hardware stores are not, making them very easy to break

  30. ps says:

    Cut them open and use them to wrap up parts of your frame where locks ding the paintwork. A friend was considering covering the whole frame to prevent rusting (and to make it look less appealing to thieves)!

  31. nelson says:

    Stuff them with empty and sealed PET bottles. Tie the ends and wound some strips shaping it into a virtually free life vest or personal float device.

  32. Street says:

    Inner tubes can make excellent chain stay protectors or ‘lizard skins’ as I think they are sometime referred too. The cost around £7 in the bike shops which is a lot to stop the chain damaging your bike frame, so simply just cut up an inner tube and zip tie it to the frame. This of course won’t recycle the whole tube but will use a vast majority of it.

  33. I use the ones with a small diameter instead of band to wrap my handlebar, to keep hands clean and have better grip than on bare metal.
    They have a very slight tendency to slip away, but that’s ok.



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