Introduction: DIY Thorn (and Puncture)-resistant Tyres

Picture of DIY Thorn (and Puncture)-resistant Tyres

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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Pumping the Tyre

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

Step 9: Reinstalling Wheel Onto Bike

Picture of 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!


Databanks (author)2016-08-22

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

srdsteve (author)2016-05-05

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.

sidmarx (author)2016-04-26

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.

glorybe (author)2016-04-24

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.

cbmartin (author)2016-04-19

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.

R.Cast (author)2016-04-12

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.

triplephase (author)R.Cast2016-04-14

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.

R.Cast (author)triplephase2016-04-14

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.

triplephase (author)triplephase2016-04-14

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

Harenthiran (author)2016-04-14

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

triplephase (author)Harenthiran2016-04-14

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.

cayooper (author)2016-04-12

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.

Snake777 made it! (author)2016-04-08

helpfull if you dont want to be replacing your tires all the time

Meclizine (author)2016-04-03

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

zencuke (author)Meclizine2016-04-06

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.

triplephase (author)Meclizine2016-04-04

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

effgee (author)triplephase2016-04-04

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

Plastic levers are $1 or 2

lclaiborne (author)2016-04-03

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.

alzie (author)lclaiborne2016-04-03

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.

machete555 (author)alzie2016-04-04

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

alzie (author)machete5552016-04-05

Good idea.

Also keeps em from shifting around when inserting the tube.

Back to liners, thanx.

KellyW61 (author)lclaiborne2016-04-03

Kevlar is impact resistant not puncture resistant. This is proven by the fact that bulletproof Kevlar vests are not knife-resistant and they can be punctured by a knife just like any other cloth. To make Kevlar knife-resistant they add stiff hardened strands of wire woven into the fabric. This would not work for a bicycle tire because it needs to flex. Kevlar tire liners are mostly gimmick and work by adding distance from the tread to the tube, a couple mm at best, you would get the same results if they left out the Kevlar and just used a hard rubber liner, maybe even better.

I used to do a lot of off-road riding on my hybrid, and flattened several tires in the process. After getting the kevlar lining in my tires, I've not had another flat. From my personal experience, it's not a gimmick. But nothing is going to absolutely stop everything. But the wire stiffened kevlar does flex.

imcp1024 (author)KellyW612016-04-03

the ones that I used as a child were made of HDPE or Nylon.

spark master (author)lclaiborne2016-04-03

I have kevlar gloves to carve with, they protect against slashes, not punctures, so I must go to bike store and check it out, if theyare woven, they are not puncture proof, or even resistant. . But I like the idea and will check them out for the kids bikes. This method is free a big plus, neither is perfect I am sure.

nice instructable

annamemegonow (author)2016-04-04

Great idea. Another useful item from around the house is part of a window blind. They are slightly curved like the inside of a tire , are light & can be found in different widths & lengths.

That seems like a really good idea, I'll look into it on the weekend and possibly post an update. Thanks for that!

aebe (author)2016-04-04

Hello . Try sanding the inside tire down to the cord , it will take a bit of weight off the tire , and it will have less rolling resistance . Screwdrivers ? If you have nothing else , sand or file the sharp edges off . Save a lot of grief that way .

triplephase (author)aebe2016-04-04

Thanks for the suggestions!

DARRYL SIEMER (author)2016-04-03

Great idea and description - thanks!

Thank you!

JohnR124 (author)2016-04-03

Nice idea but IMHO too much compromise. Unless you're riding a 'lead-sled' the added weight will negatively affect the performance/feel.

Not to mention the time/anguish/risk of slicing a tire w/a razor and cramming/mounting it.

You may also need to buy new, smaller tubes, adding ~$10 to cost. For 2x more you can buy "Mr Tuffy" tire liners = light, proven, reusable and less than the Dr co-pay stitches!

triplephase (author)JohnR1242016-04-04

Sure, there are alternatives, but this project was created using only things around the household (with the exception of the new tube). And surprisingly, I didn't have to buy a smaller sized tube and I've been riding for a few days now with no problems. But in some cases, where tyres are not available around the home, it would be better to buy those tire liners.

KaloxaNL (author)2016-04-03

You can buy gloves under the name "Turtleskin". Just Google and it's not really Turtleskin at all. This material is used even military and control arrested people if they are having needles in there pocket. I bought it for animals. They have protection for snakebites, but I used it for the razor sharp cats nails. Even a normal needle I can't put trough it. It's really thin material like the tube from the tire.
Now tinking of it I wil use this idea for a wheelbarrow. I'm really tired of repairing the wheel in the garden here with all the roses needles.

triplephase (author)KaloxaNL2016-04-04

That is a good idea, considering the protection properties of the material, but it is expensive (especially if you have a tire with a large surface area to cover). However, I would love to know what sort of material the Turtleskin gloves use, to see if it is purchasable for cheaper.

cammers (author)2016-04-03

Well done. Great first Instructable. Welcome to the community.

triplephase (author)cammers2016-04-04

Thank you!

Ev (author)2016-04-04

A few thoughts. Use talcum or baby powder inside the tires to reduce chafing. (baby powder is supposed to be bad for infants, so you might get it free!) Inflate the tube to full pressure, then let the air out. This lets the tube position itself for less stretching.

triplephase (author)Ev2016-04-04

Thanks for the suggestion! I will implement this in the next install I do of this.

Ev (author)2016-04-04

Has anyone tried Gorilla Tape inside the tire? Much cheaper than the
liners and just as light. Maybe two layers, applied sticky side to the
inside of the tire?

deswiger (author)2016-04-02

Good idea, keep it up. Can't seem to make it work on my truck though. Tried three times now, fortunately I used my neighbors car first, really hard to cut thru the side walls of a 235-70x15........................ ;) just kiddin' nice job.

sconnors (author)deswiger2016-04-03

During WWII, when tires were hard to come by, we would cut the beads off a 14" tire and put it inside a 15" tire. This way you could use even badly damaged tires to get around.

deswiger (author)sconnors2016-04-04

Good job, like they say, "the father of invention is desperation....?" or something like that. Hey, it is what it is and if it works, even better!

batvette (author)2016-04-03

The last set of Continental Gatorskin slicks I put on my MTB, with slime green tire liners, went five years without one single flat. Meh.

KaiD2 (author)2016-04-03

What about tubeless? I recommend Stan's or Orange Seal. It would be around $20 for every thing, if you used gorilla tape and Stan's.

benchkey. (author)2016-04-03

Saw a different approach on Youtube. Mount the tire w/tube on the rim in the regular manner. then fill the tube with low expanding foam used to seal cracks in homes. Be sure it is low expansion foam. At the opposite side of the tire from the filler point, drill an 1/8" hole to allow air to escape. Once the foam has arrived at the drill hole the tire will be full. Allow to set up for a couple of days.

I'm not a bicyclist so don't know how this will affect the ride, but the youtube article said it was fine.

KaloxaNL (author)benchkey.2016-04-03

There are silicone tubes on the market. In the Off The Road they use them. Maybe it's possible to fill the tires with silicone, only like PUR.... How to hard it out.

lr10cent (author)benchkey.2016-04-03

There are tires you can get with foam in them, but it increases the rolling resistance. Probably by a lot, since you're substituting foam for air, and air is very easy to move around. I just poked around the net about this. The first few people I found who had actually used "airless" tires really didn't like them. Pneumatic bicycle tires have low rolling resistance while still being able to handle moderate bumps in the road, which is why they became so popular when they appeared in the late 19th century. Before that, solid or hollow rubber tires (with no air pressure) were used. These were heavy and had a LOT of rolling resistance.

lr10cent (author)lr10cent2016-04-03

Hypothetically, you could work out something with lots of metal springs inside the tire that would work almost as well as air, except for the weight.

lr10cent (author)2016-04-03

If you're looking to get a much better workout, without going faster, this will be great. It's been my experience that the more rubber the tire has, the more resistance you have to fight. For instance, I put slicks of about the same size on a mountain bike I had. My typical speed on a route that I often took (on roads) went up from 12mph to 14mph, or almost the same as when I used a road bike. When it was dry, I could still go off road with success.

Long ago I used what I think were some Tuffy inserts for my three speed bike. They took some of the fun out of riding the bike, but I could still go fast enough to be useful. Maybe they're better now.

I think this trick might work better if you use smooth tires on the inside, at least, if not on the outside.

I wonder if anyone has tried using fiberglass tape with some kind of rubber or silicone in it for this. Fiberglass tape, similar to that used for auto body work, is cheap and strong. I'm guessing it would have to have a fine, tight weave to work well. It might be best if you used cloth so you could cut strips on the bias. I'm guessing putting it on the bias would reduce rolling friction. As someone else mentioned, you can get bike tires with Kevlar belts in them to make them thorn resistant. Since fiberglass is more elastic (at least in tension) than Kevlar, I'm thinking it might actually be better for this.

For uses other than bikes, where rolling friction might be less important, maybe the foam makes more sense.

Of course, the bottom line is that, as someone else mentioned, going slow is better than not going.

About This Instructable




Bio: 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 ... More »
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