Introduction: Make Bulk Bicycle Tube Patch Kits

Picture of Make Bulk Bicycle Tube Patch Kits

Last year I helped organize and prepare my Venture (scout) company to go on a 200km cross country bike trip along the Kettle Valley Railway. Once everyone (10+ people) had a suitable bike and panniers (saddle bags), and cooking and cleaning equipment the only things left was to maintain about 8 bikes that were bought from local classifieds and un-tested. Buying 20 (two each for good measure) patch kits would not have been terribly expensive, but saving any cost is always good. Besides all the things that are in a patch kit were laying around my house. 

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

Most of  the things you need can be bought at a hardware store.
Contact Cement (500ml or less)
Sandwich bags (1-2 per kit)
Sand Paper (1 square inch per kit) - optional
Old Inner tube (1 will do)
Spoon (disposable hopefully)
hammer and/or tin opener  (or  COLD chisel) to undo and do up the contact cement can. 

Be careful when opening the can and read and follow the warning label on the contact cement.

Note if you're not using sand paper use sand from the location you're in instead, if you're location doesn't have any sand or gritty substances make sure to pack the piece of sand paper. 

Step 2: Cut to Size

Picture of Cut to Size

Start by cutting the inner tube and sand paper into smaller sizes. The Inner tube should be cut into patch like shapes, circles or ovals not squares and rectangles. Also when cutting the inner tube make sure to cut the final patch with the scissors on an angle so that the patch has beveled edges, slanting up to the center of the patch. The sand paper can be cut to whatever size is convenient, if you're using sand paper. 

Step 3: Package Contact Cement

Picture of Package Contact Cement

Take a spoon of contact cement (or less) and add it to the plastic bag. Squeeze all the air out or the cement will harden in the bag and then your stuck with a flat tire. Don't suck the air out with a straw, the contact cement is quite poisonous. Roll the bag up so it takes less space. I used a Ziploc bag and rolled and squeezed all the air out before sealing the last bit of the bag.  

Step 4: All Together Now

Picture of All Together Now

Next add everything to a sandwich bag or just chuck the various components into your backpack or seat pouch. Squeeze the air out so it takes up less space. 

Step 5: How to Use

If you've never had need to use a patch kit or this patch kit is a different kind then the ones your familiar with this is how to use it.

1- locate hole, this patch will only work on small holes so if your whole tire is blown up then you'll need a new one. The best way to find a leak is to first take the tube out of the bike, just like replacing a tube. Pump the tube up a little bit, listen and feel for ware the air is escaping. Run the tube around your ear when you hear something, move the tube down a little so you can feel the air on your cheek. A faster but less trail side way is to submerge the slightly inflated tube and look for bubbles. Also be sure to check the inside of the tire to avoid a re-puncture by the same object, mark with chalk (or mud) the location of the tire .

2- scratch up the patch and the tube, sandpaper is best but just plain sand or gravel can also do the job. Roughen up the area around the hole and the back (white) side of the patch. 

3 - contact cement. Apply a little cement to the back side of the patch and the tire tube, less is more in this case just a thin layer will do. Next wait for the cement to get sticky, once it is sticky apply the patch. For more detailed info on how to use contact cement see back of the tin. 

4 - wait a bit and then re-insert the tube into the tire and pump up, these patches if done correctly can last for years. One of my friends ran on four patches for two years, before selling the bike complete with patches. 


diamar79 (author)2012-07-25

I wonder what whould happen if we just replaced all the air with spray foam? Just

Besides a bumpier ride, it would probably be necessary to cut the tire and tube to get them off when necessary. There is a manufacturer of solid tubes (I think they are owned by Bell now) and a maker of solid tires. The problem with solid tubes is that they are impossible to use when the tire has those metal rings in them and I think most do. Even if you get a solid tube in a tire installed and working, you might have to cut the tire to get it off. The problem with the solid tires is that you must measure the width of your rim precisely and get the right size tire to match that width.

I imagine the ride would be much bumpyer.

RamonD7 (author)2015-10-26

It doesn't work, the contact cement simply wont hold. I have a road-bike tube so I assume your talking about mountain-bikes? Which take up to 80-120 p.s.i. Ive done this over twenty times. And even let the cement adhere for the next day. It wont hold. I even used duck-tape to hold the patch down. Waste of time. I would assume if one could find out the type of vulcanizing liquid that's in a patch-kit you might have a better chance. Im sure I can find other uses for contact cement.

Sorry to hear that. I admit I have never tried it on a road tube. The smaller surface area, and significantly higher pressures are probably why. Yes if you can find vulcanizing fluid (Look at an auto parts store, maybe Princess Auto?) you should have better luck. It could also be the temperature that is affecting the cure on the contact cement, was it cold when you tried?

ryant_xc (author)2015-08-14

I'v gotten 3 flats in the last week and a half and I'm done buying new tubes! this should work great.

behrouz.amini.31 (author)2015-04-23

Thanks. I fixed 2 tubes with 8 and 7 inches long cut alont the tubes. This is for a road bike. Works great. Bought 3 oz contact cement in a small hard-to-break glass bottle for $4 plus at Lowe. A nice brush is part of the cap. Done with buying endless patches. Wonderful!

Thanks glad you found this useful.

behrouz.amini.31 (author)2015-04-23

Thanks, worked great!

behrouz.amini.31 (author)2015-04-22

Thanks so much. Fixed 2 blown up inner tubes with 8 inch and 7 inch cut along the tubes. Works great. This is a road bike. Holding 70 psi. Bought contact cement from Lows (sp?). comes with small hrad to brake glass bottle with very nice bruch as part of the cap. It was $4 plus, Thanks, done with buying patches.

omikeo (author)2015-03-24

thanks, i already use used tubes as an endless supply of patches, but i couldn't remember if i needed rubber or contact cement - i have a can or two i hope it didn't freeze though - and i though about sand paper for the scratcher too - just make sure to clean the area again after sanding

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)omikeo2015-03-31

If you can find vulcanizing cement it works even better, chemically "melts" the rubber then when it dries the tube and the patch are one piece, as opposed to two that are glued together.

dimaspin (author)2014-07-14

I once did this, it will always works

dimaspin (author)2014-07-14

mysss (author)2012-07-17

This seems like a very harden-prone method of carrying the rubber cement...I think I'd rather just buy the tubes of cement, with the infrequency I get flats away from home and the little glue they take. The important thing, of course, is that when you get that third hole (you were carrying a spare tube, weren't you? the glue doesn't set completely all that fast) you still have patch material and usable rubber cement to repair it. Also, I'd advise against using sand, because it's liable to stay on the tube, defeating the purpose of sanding in the first place (this actually isn't to rough up the rubber--it's to remove the talcum powder left over from manufacture, which is what prevents the insides of the tube from sticking together). Although it is a very resourceful idea, you also risk contaminating the inside of the tire/rim, which could lead to another flat. So I guess you could do it, but make sure you clean the heck out of the areas exposed to sand (although we all know sand gets into everything).

ALSO, minor nitpick: please don't call panniers saddlebags. It's that kind of general misinformation that makes it impossible to get good search results when you're looking for a saddle bag (bicycle "seats" are actually technically saddles, so-called because they're not meant to support all your weight).

In conclusion, thanks for the ideas, cool hatchet, and I hope your trip was awesome! I hope to go on one like it sometime.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)mysss2012-07-20

Thank you for all your tips, I called them saddle bags because I wasn't sure people would know what panniers were. The trip was vary good and we only had one flat, unfortunetly we ran over an old 6 in nail that completely shredded the tube so we couldn't try out the patch kit.

thewmas (author)2012-07-10

As a buffer, I've took a tin can lid and a sharpend nail, hammer the tin flat and punch a bunch of small holes on a piece of wood.

I'm not sure what you mean. (probably my fault). What do you mean as a buffer?

where to rough up or scratch the patch area

Ok I get it., I guess that would work, but sandpaper (or just sand) is lighter and smaller. Whatever works for you, Thanks for the idea.

ak08820 (author)2012-07-09

Unless you already have the contact cement procured for another purpose, it will not be cost effective. Puncture kits are available from $1 at the dollar store to under $5 for bet brands. It will be messy to carry around contact cement in ziplock bags. I bought a box f 40 patches for $3 on Ebay.

I made my own mostly because I had the materials lying around. btw my dollar stores don't have patch kits, and the bike stores sell them for about $5.00. Thanks for your advice.

Moem (author)2012-07-08

Fun fact:
If 'contact cement' is anything like what we call 'contact glue' over here, namely a glue that's usually yellowish and that needs to dry for a while before both parts are brought together, then you've just described the only way to patch a tire that will work in very hot areas.

I have learnt this from a truck driver in Sudan, on a day when the sand was so hot that the 'proper' vulcanising tire glue underneath patches that had been glued on two weeks earlier melted into snot. The driver didn't just tell us this, he also gave us a bit of his glue and a piece of tube, large enough to get us through the Nubian desert.
May fate function in his favour as long as he lives.

snoopindaweb (author)Moem2012-07-08

I buy Contact Cement in Sturdy 2 Oz bottles with a brush in the lid.

That would work well for this.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)Moem2012-07-08

It's nice to know that contact cement does have some benefits.

Moem (author)Zaphod Beetlebrox2012-07-09

It definitely does! Be sure to bring some whenever you intend to cross the Nubian Desert.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)Moem2012-07-09

Good to know, next time I find myself crossing the Nubian Desert I'll make sure I pack some :)

aapurim (author)2012-07-09

. . . Proofreading your (possessive pronoun) text, you're (contraction for you are) constantly using "your" where you mean to use "you're" ... and in every place you should say "where" (the place) you incorrectly use "ware" (a noun for a usable object). If you can correct these spelling errors, it will read without distractions.
. . . It is not clearly explained how you store small amounts of rubber cement in plastic bags: putting it in the bag and getting all the air out is understood, but how is the bag sealed from leaking? Commercially, the stuff comes in tubes with a screw-on cap; what substitutes for that tight of a seal? It would seem an empty toothpaste tube would do, if it is somehow thoroughly washed out, and you devise some kind of way to inject the canned rubber cement into the smaller tube, which must be made of a material the rubber cement won't attack and dissolve.

Sorry for my grammar, the plastic bags are Ziplocs they have an air tight zipper like closing on the top.

HEY YOU (author)2012-07-09

Nice instructable!

Good Comment on not sucking the air out of the contact cement baggie.....

You can remove all the air by closing the baggie almost completely, then lowering it into a bowl of water, pushing out all the air, and then sealing the last 1/8" or so.

Cheers and happy riding

Thanks for the tip, I just rolled mine like a dry sack.

Midsummernight (author)2012-07-08

Kettle Valley Railway BC.?

chiefredelk (author)2012-07-08

I've made temporary patches for years.. I carry scissors,,,a piece of old inner tube and Super Glue in my stool case.. Super glue works if you spit on the tubes and wipe most of it off..These patches can't be trusted for long. Just gets us home..

I ride with my grandsons , one as young as 6 and there are times are 10 miles from home and a flat can be a bad thing..We all have different size bikes and different size tubes/ The repairs often call for different size patches.. I cut my patch and leave some excess and super glue it on as needed. I carry a bike pump to air up the tire and we ride home where I then install a NEW tube.... Yes, Check the tires before repairing tube. I found TWO thorns in one tube last time I made a repair.....I am curious.. I need to find out what type of glue works for a LONG time repair so I don't have to keep replacing the bike tubes...Exactly what glue do I buy at the Auto store?

Either Contact cement (see materials step), or vulcanizing fluid (I don't know what that looks like). Contact cement (contact glue) can be found at most hardware stores were as vulcanizing fluid is more likely found at an auto store. Thanks for asking.

sitearm (author)2012-07-08

@Zaphod; Hi!

Very nice, I've Tweeted your article.

Cheers! : )


alzie (author)2012-07-08

Yes, contact cement can work.
I used to use it, but
from the car parts store I bought
a can of the proper tire patch rubber cement.
I believe that its better able to dissolve the rubber
for a better bond. Different solvent.

I didnt want to carry the whole can
of rubber cement around with me, so
i got a spent nail polish bottle and
filled it with the rubber cement.
Just the right amount to carry, and
it doesnt seem to dry out in the bottle
as it does in the tire patch kits.
Also, the nail polish bottle has
the nifty little brush for applying the goop.

So far, ive got 9 patches on my rear tube over ~6 yrs.
Im going for my personal best record on this.
Ive just switched my rear tire to the Walmart one
with the internal kevlar belt puncture guard.
Sofari sogoodi!

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)alzie2012-07-08

Thats a good idea, I personally don't have nail polish bottles.

alzie (author)Zaphod Beetlebrox2012-07-08

Since i was sans girl friend at the time,
a buds wife had some old ones laying around.
She gave me two,
one for my bicycle, and
the other for my motor cycle.

Hope i wont have to do the patch thing
on the road w/ the motor cycle.
They dont have center stands any more.
Cant just flip em over!
I wonder if any bodys done an Ibbl
on road jacking a motor cycle?

Moem (author)alzie2012-07-09

It depends on the weight of the bike whether or not this is doable, but:

For my dirtbike, I have a thingie made from a piece of steel pipe with a flat foot on one end and a small fork on the other. When the bike is on its side stand, and pulled to the same side the stand is on, the pipe can be shoved under the frame and it will keep the bike propped up, not by a lot, but enough so you can remove a wheel.
The fork keeps it in place (it fits around the frame pipes) and the flat foot keeps it from sinking into the ground.

Zaphod Beetlebrox (author)alzie2012-07-08

I haven't seen any, mind you I haven't looked. Maybe that will be your next ible.

adel antado (author)2012-07-08

A nail works just as well to puncture the can and acts as a plug to seal the puncture afterwards

Never thought of that, but isn't it easier to just open the can the way it was meant to be.

chuckyd (author)2012-07-08

I have used rubber cement for tube repairs in the distant past. I had a one gallon can that I used for over 10 years, and never had trouble with it gumming up. The secret is to apply it to both surfaces.

Thanks, I've never had a can last that long usually only 2-3 years.

coastalbliss (author)2012-07-05


To the author: I would urge you to edit your post regarding the screwdriver, and especially the chisel, for opening the glue can.

If a kid uses his dad's (or mom's, in these days) chisel to open a can, the kid is going to get the "what-for." This will damage a chisel, and anyone who uses a chisel regularly will be very angry. Although a chisel is a simple tool, it is a very precise tool as well. Using the sharp edge on metal is very bad for the tool.

That is just to save the tool, Chisels and screwdrivers slip out of the lip of glue/paint cans and can cause very nasty puncture wounds and cuts. A good chisel is razor sharp-not a tool you want to slip and hit yourself with.

Alternatives: a can opener, a paint can opening tool (available at paint or hardware stores), a dull, flat piece of metal (not a knife). some power tools come with flat wrenches-these can work if they are thin enough to get under the lip

Sorry the chisel I used was a cold chisel not a sharp one meant for cutting wood. It's pretty much just a tapered piece of metal, it's not at all sharp and if it gets dented no one will mind, its purpose is for things like this.

I saw the photo after I wrote this. A cold chisel I would not worry about so much, for sure. Any chance to misconstrue this as a wood chisel would be my concern. And I have actually cut myself with a screwdriver on a paint can before, despite my father telling me never to use one. I learned my lesson. By the way, thanks for this patch kit. I think it is great!

About This Instructable




Bio: Second year engineering student studying at the Beautiful Okanagan campus of The University of British Columbia. I like to tinker with electronics and meddeling with ... More »
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