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How To Recycle Bicycle Tires And Tubes

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Bicycles are great for the environment!

They help you get from point A to B without relying on fossil fuels, but you may still wonder what to do with worn-out bike parts.

Can you recycle bike tires and tubes, for instance?

No, not at recycling centers, but you can recycling in different ways.

This article gives you some ideas.

9 Ways To Recycle Or Reuse Bike Tires Or Tubes

One of the least eco-friendly aspects of cycling is the disposal of bike tires and tubes.

Tires are normally manufactured from a synthetic blend of compounds, chemicals and additives.

Tubes are mostly made of butyl, rubber, but they also contain additives.

Neither butyl tubes nor bicycle tires are biodegradable.

Hence, they shouldn’t be chucked out with your everyday trash.

Below, we suggest nine ways to repurpose your tires and tubes.

1. Handlebar Grips From Old Tubes

One common use of old inner tubes is to fashion handlebar grips from them.

This is commonly done with mountain bike handlebars, but you can do it with other bar types, too.

Here are some brief instructions:

  • Cut out the valve of the inner tube cleanly by slicing either side of it with a craft knife or Stanley knife.
  • Fold the tube in half and cut the tube into two equal pieces at the halfway point.
  • Remove any old grips or tape from your bar.
  • Make space on the handlebar for the new grip by unscrewing and loosening brake/gear levers where applicable.
  • Tightly wrap or double-wrap your handlebar with the butyl tube.
  • Cut off any excess and secure the tube to the handlebar with a generous amount of electrical tape.
  • Insert plastic bar ends to secure any overhanging tube (trim bar ends if necessary so they are not too wide for the thick tube material).
Video: Wrap Handlebars With Old Inner Tubes

2. Make A Belt From An Old Tire

It’s possible to buy belts made from old bike tires, but you can make them yourself using your old tires for extra eco-friendliness!

Here’s a quick run-down on how it’s done:

  • Gather parts and tools, including your old tire, an appropriately sized buckle (the clamp-on ones with a spiked grip are easiest), scissors and a utility knife.
  • Remove the sidewalls with a utility knife and scissors. Make the first incision with the knife to provide space for the scissor blade, then cut evenly around. Use the waste sidewall for other purposes.
  • Trim the all-important tire tread to match the width of your chosen belt buckle.
  • Cut the length to your required size, wrapping the belt around your waist and leaving just a few inches of overlap.  Attach the buckle.
  • Tidy up the overhanging end of the belt by cutting it into a circular or triangular shape.

3. Inner Tube Seats & Loungers

Indoor or outdoor chairs can be mended or made using old inner tubes as springy and durable support.

You can use old tubes to repair outdoor seats where the original material has degraded or torn.

Or you can weave the tubes across a standard wooden chair frame.

For a more adventurous project, you can create a bigger garden bench or lounger from inner tubes, though you’ll need to do a fair bit of cycling before you have enough butyl.

As long as you are working towards an idea, the tubes won’t go straight into landfill.

4. Chain Lock Covers (MTB Tubes)

Hefty chain locks can easily damage the paintwork of your bike, but you can cover them with an old MTB inner tube to prevent this.

You simply cut out the valve cleanly with a craft knife, insert the chain into the old tube, then use a plastic zip tie if necessary to secure each end of the chain to the tube.

Similarly, you can wrap an old inner tube around the top tube of your frame if you’re in the habit of leaning it up against metal railings.

Again, this saves you from chipping the paintwork of your frame.

5. Bike Tube Resistance Band

A resistance band is used for strength training and is often used as a form of physical therapy after sporting injuries or other health issues.

It’s basically an elastic band, but butyl bike tubes have enough elasticity to do the same job.

Once you’ve patched up that tube for the last time, or maybe after it’s developed a valve problem, you can use it for resistance training.

This type of strength training can benefit your power on the bike, too, so it’s a win-win idea.

6. Inner-Tube CO2 Cartridge Sleeves

One thing cyclists hate is clicking, clacking, creaking and squeaking noises coming from myriad places on their bike.

A potential source of noise often comes from the items you’re carrying.

CO2 cartridges are a popular way to quickly inflate a tire after a roadside repair, but they tend to clack together when several are inevitably carried at once.

A popular way to prevent this from happening is to sheathe them in short lengths of old inner tub

7. Bike Tire Mirror Frames & Other Craft Ideas

Bike tires are more difficult to repurpose than bike tubes, but a little imagination soon conjures up a few ideas.

One possibility is to fit an old tire (usually a fat knobby tire) around a circular mirror for bike-themed household decoration.

You can leave the tire in its original condition, or you can paint it in the hue of your choice if you want it to blend with existing décor.

Similarly, you can use old bike tires to surround other pieces of furniture, like a circular garden table or a bird-feeding table.

Of course, you may need to be a cycling fanatic to truly enjoy these artworks!

8. Old Tubes For Hanging Bikes

Floor space is often at a premium in the garages and sheds where bicycles are stored.

This is why wall racks and bike hoists are popular storage solutions.

But you can sometimes use old bike tubes to hang bikes up with.

For this to work, you need a beam or hook overhead to secure the tube in the first instance.

But the average bike tube can easily take the weight of a moderately light bike.

You just loop the tube over the nose of the saddle.

Read more: Can you hang your bicycle from its wheel?

9. Abandoned Tires For Your Wheel-On Home Trainer

Wheel-on home trainers (aka resistance trainers) offer an affordable way to get onto Zwift or other virtual cycling platforms.

However, these trainers quickly wear a flat patch into regular bike tires, hence you can buy special trainer tires for the job.

An alternative to spending cash on a special trainer tire is to use any old tires you’ve stored without completely wearing them out.

This could include tires with one or two cuts in the tread, which only pose a risk when you’re riding outside.

Conclusion: Never Tire Out

Did you like this article?

Feel free to add ideas of your own or share with friends.

Since cycling is one of the cleanest ways to travel, it’s a shame if we can’t creatively “upcycle” our least eco-friendly consumables.

It’s time to get more from our tubes and tires!

Read more:

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Mark Whitley
Article By:
Mark is the founder of BikePush, a bicycle commuting website. When he's not working on BikePush, you can find him out riding.

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