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What to do with used bike tires?
IntroductionBiking has been one of the most popular exercise activities around the world for decades. It’s strange to think that it wasn’t too long ago that many people would regularly use bikes on daily basis for their commute. As we witness more and more of vehicles, the benefits of using bikes can be advocated on a number of levels – from physical to environmental. Many multinational companies, including the likes of Google and Facebook, actively encourage their employees to use bikes for commute. Even though bikes have much lesser impact on the environment in terms of their carbon footprint, there’s one problem that most cyclists and bike owners face without exceptions. What to do with used bike tires? Most of the metal framework of bikes can be easily scrapped and there are dozens of scrap merchants in every town who would be willing to buy such materials. However, none of them will really come forward to take used bike tires as they are liabilities on many accounts. In this article, we will take a look at how used bike tires can be reused in a variety of creative ways to improve their utility, long after they have been discarded.
A. Alternative Uses of Used Bike TiresUsed bike tires pose a number of challenges before they can be reused in order to harness their inherent material value. Before delving deep into what used bike tires can be used for, it’s necessary to understand how tires are constructed and the nature of materials used in a typical bike tire. There are three major constituents of any bike tire.
- Tire Carcass
- Bead Core
- Rubber Tread
|Body||Natural rubber and/or synthetic rubber|
|Durability||Sulphur (vulcanization) Various aromatic amines|
|Additives||Zinc oxide (to speed up vulcanization)|
|Filling||Solid carbon black Silica Charcoal Ground sand|
|Pliability and lubrication||Grease Heavy mineral oils|
Shop Popular Tire Sizes
- Around the House
- Fashion Accessories and Art
- Patch and Reuse
- Tire Liners
a. Around the House – Furniture, Fixtures and GardeningThere are umpteen number of uses that old and used bike tires can be put to around the house. These applications range from simple crafts and handmade objects to complex furniture design and manufactured products that predominantly use used bike tires and other remnants of such tires. Such processes convert the liabilities (used bike tires) into assets (useful objects). In modern terminology, this is termed as ‘upcycling’ rather than ‘recycling’, as the waste products (tires, in this case) are not only being recycled, they are also being put to use in an improved capacity, making them wholly renewed for usage. Upcycling of used bike tires is a great way of dealing with potentially hazardous waste objects. Simple disposal methods like dumping or burning don’t work in case of tires. If tires are just dumped, they occupy much of the landfill space, making it difficult to dump other decomposable waster matter. Furthermore, tires in landfills are known to release a number of heavy hydrocarbons and metals like zinc into soil, thereby reducing the quality of soil in considerable proportions. The nearest reserves of groundwater are also known to get easily contaminated by large scale dumping of tires in landfills. On the other hand, incineration of bike tires releases a number of toxic flue gases (most notably, carbon monoxide) that can be lethal if inhaled in high concentrations. Considering all these things, upcycling of used bike tires for simple applications in and around the house is probably the best plan of action, as it puts to use waste materials, all the while feeding one’s creative forces.
- Dodging Drafts
- Rubber Bands
- Starting a fire
- Gardening Equipment Holder
- Chair Weaving
- Bathroom Mats
- Mirror Holders
b. Fashion Accessories and ArtThe world of fashion and art is always on the lookout for ideas that do not conform to the established paths. Perhaps, it is this very search for something new that creativity is all about. In the same spirit of creativity, there are a few ways in which used bike tires can be used to create fashion accessories and even works of art.
- Inner Tube Belts
- Wallets and Wrist Bands
- Customised Hula Hoops
- Tire Track Paintings
c. Patch and ReuseThis is a rather well-known use of used bike tires. When you have an old, worn-out bike tire and tube assembly on your hand, you can do so much better than just throwing it away – especially if you are a regular cyclist.
- Take the flat tire off the wheel and pull out the punctured inner tube using appropriate tools.
- Locate the site of the puncture by inflating the tube with air pump and then immersing it in a tub of water.
- Once the site of the puncture is located, mark it with a pen.
- Then, cut out a patch of rubber from an old inner tube.
- Polish the site of the puncture with a file or a sandpaper and apply hot glue or puncture solution generously.
- Then, place the patch of old inner tube over the site of puncture and roll it in position using a heavy roller.
- Let the glue dry for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Inflate the tube again and reaffirm that it has been fixed by immersing it in water.
d. Tire LinersAnother great way to reuse used bike tires is to create tire liners. This will involve a little bit of work, but rest assured that once completed, this will virtually make your bike tires puncture-proof – a great luxury to have! Tire liners not only help you make use of used bike tires, they also help you save money by saving new bike tires and tubes from countless thorns, glass shards, gravels and nails.
- To make a tire liner, you will have to get your hands on a used bike tire. Once you have it with you, carefully remove the steel beads from the tire, leaving the tire free of any metal part.
- Now, an average steel tape needs to be procured. This steel tape will be wrapped on the outer surface of this used tire. You can either use industrial glue to get it pasted to this surface, or to add an extra bit of measure, you can directly sew it on the outer surface of the used tire using a thin steel filament (easily available at hardware stores).
- Once the steel tape has been perfectly glued/sewn, this used tire will be placed carefully inside a new bike tire. Care needs to be taken to align the valve holes of both the tires. Use of tools like pliers and wrenches may be required.
- As this steel-taped old tire makes its way into the new tire, new inner tube is to be inserted inside the taped tire.
- When the assembly is ready, bolt it to the wheel as usual and inflate the inner tube.
- Now, your bike tire will be as good as puncture-proof.
e. DonateIf you have used one or more methods of reusing old bike tires and inner tubes but you still more tires to be dealt with, you can simply choose to donate them. You can either donate them to professional recycling companies/organizations that recycle tires (and all other bicycle parts) in a scientific and eco-friendly manner, or to charitable organizations that use the donated materials for charities. A few of such organizations and companies have been listed in the following table. Table 2: Where to Donate Used Bike Tires
|Name of the organization||Reference|
|Bikes Not Bombs (USA)||https://bikesnotbombs.org/help-out/donate-bikes|
|Rad Bikes (New Zealand)||http://www.radbikes.co.nz/donate/|
|I Bike Foundation (Global)||http://www.ibike.org/environment/recycling/|
|Edmonton Bicycle Group (Canada)||http://edmontonbikes.ca/services/bikeworks/recycling/|
|Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op (USA)||http://www.ohiocitycycles.org/|
|Tire Stewardship BC (Canada)||http://www.tsbc.ca/bike.php|
|Recycle Now (UK)||http://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/bicycles|
|Waste Recycling UK (UK)||http://www.wasterecycling.org.uk/the_environment/recycling_means_of%20_transportation.php|
B. Other Finds for Consideration
- Shelves From Used Inner Tubes
- Abstract Art
- Value Creation