Introduction: Several of 1000 Uses for Old Bicycle Tubes

Picture of Several of 1000 Uses for Old Bicycle Tubes

Our throw away society has begun to irritate me. Therefore, I have become a COB (Cheap Old Bastard). I grew up in an era when you made do; you didn't throw it away or buy a new one, just because one bit broke. So, welcome to the Tommi Potx COB Recycling School.
I carry a bit of inner tube, paracord, duct tape, zap straps and a multitool whenever I venture into the wilds. I am almost invincible with these items.
With these, you are a repair god.

Step 1: Strap Retainers

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I know this is a little OCD, but I hate it when my pack is all rigged up, and there are all these spare bits of strappage hanging around all over the place. This is especially true of more recent packs / load bearing vests. I use slices of bike inner tube about half inch wide, and wrap them around the offending strap after I roll it tightly to the pack. They are also handy for use elsewhere, as they are already on your pack.(Note paracord zipper pull in background)

Step 2: Laptop Key

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Yes, a lap top key. About a year ago, the /? key went AWOL on my laptop. I took a small rectangle of bike inner tube, and wedged one end under the .> key and the other under the shift key. This keeps the all-important little rubber thingy in place. (Without the little rubber thingy, you're hooped...unless theres a 'little rubber thingy' Instructable out there.) A small piece of white surgical tape can then be stuck to the rubber key, and the / and ? can be drawn on. Beware, this is temporary, and may require adjustment from time to time.

Step 3: GPS Retainer

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One of these inner tube slices keep your GPS firmly attached to your home-made GPS rack (See GPS Rack Instructable.), and act as kind of quick release as well. They provide enough tension to keep the GPS in place, yet the GPS can be removed quickly and easily. If you happen to lose a slice of inner tube, it's no big deal, because you have Spare inner tube wrapped around your small bottle of bike lubricant.

Step 4: Bonus Use:

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Spare Inner Tube Slices, on a small bottle of bike lubricant or lock de-icer.(lock de-icer is excellent for unclogging iced-up brake and shifter cables during those below zero winter bike rides)
Need I say more

Step 5: MP3 Player Battery Door Closure

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Yup, the little door to the battery compartment of my MP3 player is busted; therefore, no tunes.
So, a slice of inner tube to the rescue. Stretched from end to end, the slice provides plenty of tension, and keeps the battery door closed, and doesn't interfere with the controls. Therefore, tunes return and we are happy.

Step 6: AA or AAA Battery Storage

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Being a COB, I resent high priced batteries,poor battery performance and the poor battery technology we suffer from.
Therefore, to keep AAs from rolling around your kit and losing their charge, I strap them in pairs. Problem solved.

Step 7: Dog Tag Silencers: Silence Is Golden

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Ok army guys: as a former army guy (25 years infantry) I came up with several ways to silence those 'rattle-bing-bang' dog tags / ID discs. This is only one of them. U.S. tags are ideal, as a double wrap of an inner tube slice keeps them tied together nicely. Canadian army dog tags are a single piece, so they aren't as rattly. However, I used this method on mine to keep mojo items from rattle bing banging.
(In addition: the rattly ball chain of your dog tags can be fed through a piece of gutted paracord.
This helps keep noise down, as well as not interfering with the ball chains function. The ball chain is designed to break if force is exerted on it; therefore if tangled, the soldier is not hung / choked by his dog tag chain.) I've attached a small ear plug container; note how the chain goes through the tube slice, to prevent loss. Loss of kit is bad!!!

Step 8: Shims

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Instead of metal-on-metal when mounting a hose clamp on a pipe, put a slice of bike inner tube between the hose clamp and the pipe; I've used this with good results on the handlebars of my mountain bike and the mounting of my GPS rack. Sorry, this is not the best pic ever.

Step 9: Friction Provider

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I suppose some of us know how slippery a Zippo or Bic lighter can be, and how easily they can slip out of your pocket. A slice of inner tube wrapped around the lighter provides some friction that will keep your lighter in your pocket.
Take this a step further by duct taping a slice of inner tube or paracord to your Bic, which provides a tie-down for your lighter. One should always have a make good.

Step 10: Ghillie Suit Camo Loops

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Sew a few slices of this on to your ghillie suit base jacket / hood; they provide excellent attachment points for foliage while you are on missions of goodness (Sniping baddies).
Use linen thread, or the inner strands from paracord for stitching, as they are uber strong; get a big needle. There are also ideal, in that they will break before tearing a hole in your jacket.

Step 11: Bike Armour

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I'm a veteran, with a messed up pair of knees and a bad back, so my bicycle is a vital form of transport for me. We have no pets, so I treat it like my pet. It's my main fitness device, and as the infantry guys out there know, it beats walking with a zillion pounds of crap on your back.
I've used zip-ties (Available at any good hardware store or electicians shop) aka 'zap straps', to attach pieces of sliced inner tube to parts of my bikes frame, to heep them from being scratched by road crap. The chainstays, bottom tube, and where the top tube meats the seatpost tube and the headset are all good spots for this, especially if you put your bike on a rack; these handy bits will prevent rack bite on your cables. Be careful though; don't zap strap over top of cables which will bugger up brakes or shifting. AACCKK!
I also like a piece on the suspension seat post, to keep rain / snow off the post. You can also put a 3 inch slice on the headset, where the forks meet the handlebars, to protect the headset nut assembly from moisture. See Many Pictures!!
Yes, I cycle in the winter. I will cycle down to -20°C, which is -4°F. It can be challenging.
(Who wants to see a studded bike tire Instructable?)

Step 12: Bicycle Armour 2

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Bottom tube armour.

Step 13: Suspension Seat Post Protector

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This protects the suspension seat post from weathering.

Step 14: Bicycle Armour: Headset

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Cool, eh?

Step 15: Valve Stem Wrench

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Hmmm...what to do with the valve stem from your old inner tube? Recycle it into a valve stem wrench! For this, you need the metal valve stem caps with a slotted top. Remove the valve stem, and keep it as a spare. Then, cut out the old valve stem, glue the valve stem cap onto it and voila! A specialty tool for sorting out valve stems while repairing flats.
Muy bueno, eh?
There you have ...enough of this throw-away, disposable society!
Reduce waste, Re-cycle, Re-use!
I'm sure there are hundreds of uses for old inner tubes, large and small. Catapults, rafts, shoes; the list goes on!! Take care and Have some fun!!
I'll add on as the cranium produces ideas.

Step 16: Carabiner Anti-Slide Device.

Picture of Carabiner Anti-Slide Device.

I hope this doesn't seem lame.
The climbers among you will know the frustration of having a carabiner sliding up and down a piece of cordage, or on a piece of webbing. Here is a simple solution.
All you do is loop the slice around the strap; then, insert the carabiner through the 2 eyes formed by the tube slice, as well as the strap; I think you'll find this pretty effective. I've put this on the grab handle of my pack, to prevent it sliding all over, and conking my helmet while bike riding.

Step 17: Ice Axe / Ice Hammer Grips

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Here's another for the ice climbers- slide a foot or so of this on the grips of your ice tools; give it a bit of a rub with sand paper, and are going up.

Step 18: Waterproofing

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This works for tubes / pipes of a diameter larger than the tube you are waterproofing. A good, cheap ,but really ugly, alternative to a waterproof case. Makes a good geocache container.

Step 19: Gun Grips

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Hooyah! Got this one from esqueue, and couldn't wait to put this on here; I bought Pachmayr grips years ago, but having seen this makes me think "Damn, wish i'd thought of that"
It may not look that pretty, but in a push, one tends not to mind.

Step 20: Automotive

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How fortuitous that the latest cold snap broke the windshield washer hose connecting the reservoir to the nozzle, so I could pass this on to you. Inner tube to the rescue! For a temporary fix, I placed the hose inside each end of a 3 inch slice; then using small and mini zip ties, I tightened it up. There is some leakage, but with the muddy slush we get here, you gotta have an operable windshield washer.


gearhead1951 (author)2012-01-29

The hillbilly creed " use it up , wear it out , make do or do without " !!

I was born and raised in the Great Smoky Mts of East Tennessee and I garuantee that when I am done with something , Its DONE !!

Amen brotha! I grew up in East Tennessee too, and I like to "squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste", if that makes sense.

DaveS35 made it! (author)2016-06-26

guitar humidifier

DaveS35 (author)2016-06-26

handy for making guitar humidifiers. cut series of small holes along tube. Fill tube with kitchen anti bacterial foam bought from market. dampen and place in guitar or case.

brannon67 (author)2016-04-26

There are many different uses for old bicycle inner tubes. I use old inner tubes now for gloves(grips) on all my pistol grips. Great and tacky. Saves me $12-$15 from buying them online. They wear out over time anyway, so I can get an old tube and have a few to cut and use when they wear out.

SimonG5 (author)2015-07-13

I made a Octopus shower caddy ( ) with an old inner-tube. Holds bottles perfectly and is completely water proof.

Turban Masher (author)2014-08-10

I made some nice home made mag-pulls

3366carlos (author)2014-05-31

hua hua! c130 rolling down the strip, airborne dady is gonna take a little trip.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2013-07-28

Oh. Another good use is wrapping wheelbarrow handles.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2013-07-28

When traveling with batteries, either 2 or 4 of them, i hold them together with rubber bands, but inner tubes are tougher. Thanks.
This is useful:
I always align the rubber-banded poles when the batteries are fresh (or rechargeables are charged), and alternate the poles of the batteries in the rubber bands when the batteries need to be recycled or recharged. This keeps me from making stupid mistakes with flashlights and cameras.

ngadhno (author)2013-06-24

I've used inner tube to wrap the stabilizer bar bushings of my car that were far away loose. It works great. Did this about 3 years ago and yet no need to replace the bushings.u

Mihsin (author)2013-03-20

One more: Treats leaks in water lines or irrigation pipes. lol

jschap1 (author)2012-07-11

I've been trying to figure out what to do with my old bicycle tube for months. Has anyone seen anything in-depth about bicycle-tube powered launchers?

jack002 (author)2012-04-05

The small maglite, I put some road bike inner tube on it so I can hold it in my teeth without feeling the metal and slipping. A 700x20 tube fits it perfectly.

Yard Sale Dale (author)2012-03-03

I like to save sandwich bags to keep my batteries in. It keeps them from contacting things in my tool pouch, and keeps them dry. Just save sandwich bags that weren't too greasy, and rinse and dry them, can even put the rubber band on the outside of the bag after sealing them.

Agentfern (author)2011-12-04

One of your keyboard keys went AWOL? Have you read "Unwind"?
Where does that term come from?

rickharris (author)Agentfern2012-01-29

Absent With Out Leave

batonas (author)2012-01-29

I used old bicycle tubes to reduce my washing machine vibrations, works like a charm.

I am in the shed! (author)2011-12-11

Another... I ride my (motor)bike all year round, some parts don't respond well to the wet/salt (our roads are gritted with rocksalt) so whenever possible I bind these with inner tube , good on upper fork tubes cut spirally/hellically to about40mm wide, and for other chrome stuff, good for cable ties too

andrew_allen (author)2011-09-15

I have done similar to this on my bicycle computer, but used zip ties instead. Inner tubing is agree great to recycle, I have also use it along with what you have listed to keep my shed door open when it's windy and I'm getting my bike out, I'll just wedge it under the door and the door stays.

I have also wrapped some around my shower head to replace a broken washer and then keep it in place. (best thing about that one is that you have extra grip when you have wet hands)

And finally the price for handle bar wraps is ridiculous, instead I have wrapped inner tube around to give grip on the bar.

jamievandegrift (author)2011-09-08

i did this as a machete grip a while ago it worked great

zebutron (author)2011-08-30

I made a water proofish wallet out of old bike tube. Maybe not totally waterproof but no more sweaty soggy money.

ken26101 (author)2011-07-07

I used an old inner tube once to fix a leaking faucet. I was pulling my windo a/c out of the kitchen window for the winter and accidently dropped it down on our faucet causing it to crack just about where it came up from the base. i wrapped a section of the hose around the faucted and used a couple of metal screw clamps and never saw another drop of water leak out. Sadly, I have to admit that my faucet is still like that and its been that way for several years.

jploss (author)2011-05-06

This is clearly an excellent idea -- but it gets even better!

Inner tube is an excellent tinder: you can start a fire with it literally 10 seconds after pulling it out of a puddle: shake, shred (increase surface area for ease of lighting) and spark!

To prepare a high-friction fire starting kit for all occasions, slide a Bic inside a length of tube, fold some excess tube over the top of the lighter and then lock it down with an innertube band (all this to waterproof the flint and striker).

Ain't it great when you find out a good idea is even better than you thought?

SteampunkManiac (author)2011-04-20

Step 21. Phone Saver! Just check out my instructable by clicking here for more info

Jan in France (author)2010-09-01

I like this idea. Its a standing joke in my house that my zippo spends more time on the floor than in my hands

frogmeetcog (author)2010-07-18

Kudos to you, fellow COB. As my bicycle frame does not mate flush with my new fork, I put 1" sections of tube around the partially exposed headset bearings to seal them from dirt/mud/offal. When traveling with batteries, I stretch a thick piece of MTB tube around the ENDS to protect the poles from shorting on other metal stuff. My spare spokes are strapped to my frame with tube strips, as is the extra waterbottle cage. The uses while camping probably number at least 300 out of the 1000.... I have a loop of tube strip tied around my two seatstays, so I can buckle my helmet through there, and have it sitting snugly atop my saddle while the bike is on a busrack, rattle free. Oh yeah, when my cycling shoes got a hole in the toe, I sewed a square of tube on for a patch!

hughscott5 (author)2010-07-16

If you fill a one foot length of bike tube with sand it can be used as a weapon. It's sometimes called a "Concussion Maker". You can guess what happens to you if you get hit in the head with it. I used some left over string to sew the ends shut but I'm sure a knot on each end would do fine.

kiwing (author)2010-06-22

made a draught stop for my brother's front door out of a length of bike tube filled with sand. knotted both ends and used the rest of the tube cut into rings to attach to a straightened wire coat hanger nailed across the bottom of the door. the ends can be rolled back to cover the knots and the end of the wire

bdblock94 (author)2010-04-12

wheres the sling shot?

sonicx059 (author)2010-04-11


seanrdz (author)2009-11-14

i have fingers on my hands, will they act as a holder instead??

sonicx059 (author)seanrdz2010-04-11

When your biking without any place to put your items what do you do? I like this for it allows you to create a hold that will help organization. Among other things.

mysss (author)2010-03-16

 When you store batteries, you should always put like poles together, to minimize discharge between the poles of the batteries themselves. It's just a better practice, and I'm sure it has some effect, if not a huge one.

mysss (author)2010-03-14

It's for storage of the inner tube pieces themselves for when you need them. 

HappyToBeAlive (author)2008-10-24

BRILLIANT USAGE OF INNERTUBES Many of you seem to not realise what this Dude is About....... HE WANTS TO SAVE MONEY, re use, what he has, if everyone was the same this planet would be a whole lot less screwed up! I applaud this Guy! (author)HappyToBeAlive2009-03-21

but if no-one threw anything away then it'd just build up on YOUR land

Kactapuss (author)mr.space2010-02-18

 UM.... It would only build up on your land if YOU didn't throw anything away....right?  If nobody else threw anything away then how would it get to your land?

Kryptonite (author)mr.space2009-11-14

He wasn't implying "don't through ANYTHING away", but "reuse, reduce, recycle." The Instructables robot will now hunt you down.

stuartonintstructables (author)2009-12-21

is there somthing wrong with using a rubberband? it seems to me that in most of these situations, a rubberband may be a little bit easier...

 There is nothing WRONG with a rubber band.  However there is something RIGHT about turning one garbage inner-tube into 200 rubberbands.

bike innertubes are stronger than normal rubberbands.

Jur (author)2010-02-07

Excellent Instructable!
I suffer from the same OCD about those loose straps on by backpack and have for a very long time tried to come up with a solution, and this is by far the best one yet. The carabiner anti-slide solution is also totally awesome. I've also used bicycle tubing to suspend my external hard drive under a table (_much_ less noise). From now on I will always carry some extra bicycle tubing wherever I go.
Great work!

seanrdz (author)2009-09-19

erm. not being funny, but what's this supposed to do? is it just a disguise to fool people into thinking its an inner tube?

Kryptonite (author)seanrdz2009-11-14

I think it's intended as a holder, but, I don't know.

videophreak90 (author)Kryptonite2010-01-26

if it fits snugly in the tube, you could cut a ring into the end of it and put it on a spring clip. Then attach it to a D ring on a back pack or a belt loop on your pants so it's handy, instead of packed away.

geekdude (author)2009-12-29

you can use them to hold the sole to some kangoo boots if one of the clips break. I cut about 10 little rubberbands out of an innertube and streached them over the botom shell into the slot where the clip went. if it werent for this instructable i wouldnt have came up with such an elegant solution.

xsmurf (author)2008-03-20

I sure would like to see that instructables. Seen and have been told a couple of how to's, but none seem to match the real thing. I'm just too cheap to buy a pair, specially since it sorts of require another set of wheels for city commuting... after a few days they've cleared all of the snow and the studs become a disadvantage. Mind you I'm sure it would have been great to get to work the next morning after one of the half dozen foot+ falls. Anyway, why stop at -20°C? We haven't really seen any lower this year here, but I did for a ride on one of those days just to test it out... it's not that bad.... you just don't wanna stop too much ;)

xenobiologista (author)xsmurf2009-02-10

The irony is, sometimes when it's super cold it's safer to ride because the ice on the ground is rock hard - as opposed to when the temp's right around zero C and you keep slipping on the melty bits.

xsmurf (author)xenobiologista2009-02-10

So by now I'm in my second winter riding... Funny you mentioned that, we just had some freezing rain, so little you could barely see it on the road. I think it's the most slippery thing I've ever seen. Saw three cars miss their stops and one rear end a parked car on my way. And then I wiped out trying to avoid a ped that decided to cross (with his kid) from between two parked cars. Then met up with 3 other experienced cyclists. Out of us 4 only one hadn't wiped out, but he also came close. This year however we've seen constant < -20°C for a about a week or two. It can be a little intense when coupled with 30kmh winds (that's ~-35*C with windchill, not include your own "wind"). But really I see as many cyclists on the road as the day it started to snow. How winter treating you?

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