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.

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Step 1: Strap Retainers

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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom tube armour.

Step 13: Suspension Seat Post Protector

This protects the suspension seat post from weathering.

Step 14: Bicycle Armour: Headset

Cool, eh?

Step 15: Valve Stem Wrench

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.

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

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

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

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

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.



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161 Discussions


3 months ago

Also can be use as cricket ball by cutting small bands and covered it paper ball tightly with several bands ,untill it turned like a hard cork ball,

Mr. SmithX

1 year ago

I used a set of old tubes as gas tank insulator strap for an old car I’m restoring. Beats paying 25 bucks for a roll of rubber of the same quality.


7 years ago on Introduction

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 !!

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

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


3 years ago

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.


3 years ago

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.


4 years ago on Introduction

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


5 years ago on Introduction

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

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.


6 years ago on Step 20

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


6 years ago on Introduction

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


7 years ago on Introduction

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?


7 years ago on Introduction

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

7 years ago on Step 6

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.


7 years ago on Introduction

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

I am in the shed!

7 years ago on Step 15

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