DIY Thorn (and Puncture)-resistant Tyres





Introduction: DIY Thorn (and Puncture)-resistant Tyres

About: Hey guys, my name is Ahmad, I am 16 years old from Adelaide, South Australia. I created this instructables page to share the projects I have created over the years and any ongoing projects that I seek to cre...

Hey guys, Triplephase here and this is my first Instructable.

In this Instructable I will be using recycled tyres from old bikes to create a thorn-resistant tyre for me and my brother's bike.

Backstory: following some punctured tyres resulted from the thorns (which are everywhere in our area), we decided to construct a tyre which should be able to effectively withstand the punctures resulted by thorns.

In this Instructable, I use items commonly found around the household to build the tyre, which means you and anybody else can do it!

Step 1: Tools and Materials Required

A range of tools and materials will be required. These tools are common in many households and include:

A 15mm spanner

2 flat head screwdrivers (I used a knife)

A Stanley knife

A pneumatic pump

A new tube

An old tyre (This was lying around the house for a few years)

A new or used tyre

Step 2: Removing the Wheel Off the Bike

You want to start by removing the tyre from the bike by using a 15mm spanner to unscrew the nuts holding the wheel in place. Also, ensure you disconnect your brakes so that the removal of the wheel is much easier (as shown in the picture).

Step 3: Removing the Tube From the Wheel

Now you want to remove the tube.

You can do this by: Prying the tyre off the wheel with two screw drivers (i.e. insert a screw driver into the gap between the tyre and the rim, and pull down. Then, insert the other screwdriver approximately 5cm from where the other screw driver is positoned, and move the screw driver around the tyre to remove it. For more detailed instructions, there are other Instructables that detail how a tyre (and tube) should be removed from the rim of a bicycle.

Step 4: Shaping the Old Tyre to Fit

For this step, you want to minimise the size of the old tyre so that it can fit into your new or reused tyre. I did this by using a sharpie knife to cut and remove the edges of the tyre (as shown in the pictures). You want to make sure that the only part of the old tyre that you have left is the flat section of it. As you can see from the second image, I made the mistake of cutting the tyre too large, and when I tried to fit it into my tyre, it was simply too large, so I cut the recycled tyre so that it would fit.

Step 5: Inserting the Cut Tyre

Following this step, you want to insert the cut tyre into the new or reused tyre that is going to go back onto the bike. This can be simply accomplished by inserting the cut tyre into the tyre you seek to reuse on the bicycle. However, when you are inserting the tire, you will be faced with the predicament of the tyre not completely fitting into the tyre that is intended to be reattached to the bike, so, the tyre which is being inserted must be cut so that it could fit into the tyre intended for reuse on the bike. To cut the tyre, I used a Stanley knife, and measured the overlapping parts and cut that to make a perfect fit!

Step 6: Replacing the Tube

After this, you want to insert the new tube you purchased into the tyre, however, the tube must be pumped with a slight amount of air so that it can get back to its circular shape. After this, the tube can be placed into the tyre.

Step 7: Putting the Tyre Onto the Rim

Before you do this, you want to make sure that the air valve of the tube is in line with the valve hole of the time, then, insert the valve into the valve hole, and attach the tyre onto the rim. Attaching the tyre onto the rim can be accomplished by pushing one side of the tyre into place, and then the other side. You can use a screw driver to assist you in this process, but you must be careful not to puncture the tyre.

Step 8: Pumping the Tyre

After installing the tube back into the tyre, its time to pump it.

Step 9: Reinstalling Wheel Onto Bike

After pumping the wheel, you want to install it back onto the bike, using the 15mm spanner to tighten the bolts. Don't forget to hook the brakes up once again!

Step 10: In Conclusion and Improvements

Now you should have a bike which has thorn-resistant tyres, meaning it will be more resilient if punctured by thorns. This project is not only intended to protect your tyres from thorns, but also other puncture-incurring objects (such as glass, etc). Another advantage this wheel offers is that in the case of a puncture, the wheel will still be somewhat rigid, meaning the bike can continue to be ridden in fairly comfortable conditions. Also, the wheel requires less pressure to be fully pumped, since the tyre's volume takes up space in the wheel thus, the riding conditions will be a little better. If I were to make improvements to this instructable, I would:

Insert more layers of tyre to make the wheel more resistant to puncturing entities

Use lighter materials for weight reduction

Create a completely tubeless tyre using only recycled tyres

Using a thorn resistant tube along with the addition of an extra layer of protection

Apply this DIY to both rear and front wheels

Thank you for taking your time to read my first instructable!!!

Feel free to ask me any questions relating to this instructable in the comments or you can PM me!



  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest
  • Game Life Contest

    Game Life Contest
  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest

66 Discussions

Nice idea. Another thing that works is strips of soda bottles taped into a ring to fit but if you have a spare worn out tire this is much easier

Thanks for the ideas. I particularly liked the suggestion of window blinds. I just wish I had gotten this instructible earlier. I went to ride this morning just to find my mtb with a flat tire. Of course it had to be the rear tire. The main shock was when I pulled it off and put tube in water to find hole I found five of them. I just rode it yesterday so had to have picked them (Thorns) up then. Lol Will be trying one of these out soon and will let you know outcome.

Doomed to failure--after a week or 2 of flat-free riding, the sharp inner tire edge (made by cutting) will slit the inner tube. So before inserting the inner tire strip, feed it into an old inner tube with the valve stem cut off. (with enough overlap to cover the whole tire strip. I had great success with this method until i switched from Kendas to Schwalbes, which have their own reinforcing strip under the tread. (like all bike tires should) At this point, the DIY reinforcement was no longer needed.

I have found that i had more flats from spoke nipples and rim bands that were simply too old and had hardened. Several layers of masking tape work better than rim bands in my opinion. Next, I have found that on many bikes the drilled hole for the stem of the inner tube is a tad too tight. Careful use of a file to slightly increase the diameter of that hole helps a lot. In days gone by the outside of the tube was threaded on the stem and a nut pulled the stem up tight against the rim. That nut was a very good idea that made tube installation more precise. We also did not put any air in the tubes at all until the tire was installed. Then we would inflate the tube and deflate the tube completely about three times to get the tube to be relaxed in the correct shape before the final inflation. I have found that some bikes now have tires that are quite difficult to deal with. Mounting tires or dismounting tires in a tub of soapy water can make things far easier.

Recently, I saw a video on YouTube showing how to use a can of expanding foam to fill the tire of a wheel barrow so it would never go flat. He removed the tube stem valve and then poked a couple holes in the tube, squirted in the foam and it expanded to completely fill the tube and pop the tire onto the rim. Might be worth a try on a bike tire.


2 years ago

just curious, what about the clear plastic that you use as a scratch protector on cell phone screens? I was told this is a material used to cover helicopter blades for the military. The man at the cell phone store demonstrated almost impossible ability to puncture it by forcing it down over a ballpoint pen.

3 replies

Hey, thanks for your comment. Although that may seem like a good idea, most shatter resistant screen protectors I've seen are inflexible and are expensive, however, I was contemplating on adding aluminium strips of metal that fit inside the circumference of the tyre for added protection, as suggested by a previous comment. I think that aluminium can be used rather than those screen protectors since it is inexpensive, light and very easy to install.

Sorry, not that stuff. The flexible guard film. Like I said, the guy put it in a frame and leaned on it. Full body weight and the ball point didn't puncture it. That clear, smooth plastic you can still get for phones.

Forgot to mention that the aluminium strips can be found in window blinds (as suggested in the comments).

What about filling entire tyre with industrial slicone?. I think little expecive but worth it.

1 reply

Hey, thanks for the comment. Although silicone may be resistant to almost everything that causes punctures, it has a significant amount of rolling resistance, hence why air is used in contrast to silicone or foam tyres. Rolling resistance can be hard to deal with, since it makes it much harder to push the bike and maintain high speeds.

Not sure what Gorilla tape is since they make so many things. A trick I learned while living in Napa Valley, which is all thorns, is to use a good quality duct tape. Note it has to be good quality. My last use here in Sillycon Valley was a poor quality tape, ['borrowed' not bought] and it cracked and crumbled inside the tire, and let the first thorn it ran over in. This isn't perfect, as a big, fat thorn can get thru the duct tape, but usually you will spot the thorns on the outside first.

I recommend getting tire levers. They're much less likely than screwdrivers to puncture tubes when removing tires.

3 replies

Love this Instructable. I commute and tour so flats are always an issue. Note: I don't use tie levers or screwdrivers on my tires. Instead I line the tire/tube with baby powder before adding the tube. It makes a great mess but reduces the stickiness enough that I can remove and mount tires by hand. No more secondary punctures that I used to get caused by the screwdrivers pinching the tube. I only do this on my street bike so I don't know it it would work for other wheel sizes. My tool bag for bike touring has a small bottle of baby powder.

I agree, this should be done. However, I didn't have access to these tools. Thanks for the suggestion though!

teaspoons (preferably the handle end) is a good option it you don't have 'real' tyre levers.

Plastic levers are $1 or 2

You can just buy kevlar tire liners that are much lighter. I started using them for commuting in 1986 or so, they aren't new. These are a cool DIY version, but the kevlar is much lighter and thinner. These could get difficult on a skinnier tired bike, or a long haul road trip.

3 replies

Ive tried the kevlar liners.

Though they minimize punctures,

Ive gotten flats by the liners chafing the tube

almost as often as i used to get punctures.

Ive given up on liners.

We need airless tires that

have low rolling friction.

I had the same problem with the slime green tire liners and
found that lining them in with duck tape over the top worked a treat, never had
flat since

Good idea.

Also keeps em from shifting around when inserting the tube.

Back to liners, thanx.