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How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 12:55pm
by horizon
I've come across this interesting discussion that includes, apparently Jobst Brandt and Sheldon Brown amongst its participants:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... 4HqxKk-jmw

But there are people who replace their inner tubes annually. The consensus appears to be that inner tubes last, more or less, for ever. And they can be repaired. So why are millions (I cannot verify this but I presume it to be right) sold every year? And what happens to them?

So what I would like to know is, what is to stop you from using an inner tube for 25 years and how many repairs can a tube reasonably take before it no longer functions properly?

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 1:05pm
by mjr
I'd discard them when a puncture is
  • under or very near to a previous patch because that's the main diagnosable situation where a repair has failed for me;
  • very near the valve base;
  • a slow puncture; or
  • bigger than a patch
but that last one hasn't happened yet.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 1:54pm
by Mick F
That infernal Raleigh Chopper I had still had the original tubes in it. 1971 Mk1 Chopper.
I have an RSW16 in the shed circa 1968 still with it's original tyres and tubes.

Therefore 25years is nothing.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 2:35pm
by The Mechanic
Since an inner tube is made out of some kind of rubber like material it is likely to perish if kept in the wrong environment. Apart from that, my tubes usually last until they get a puncture. Then they get binned. Life is too short.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 2:44pm
by stewartpratt
The Mechanic wrote:My tubes usually last until they get a puncture. Then they get binned.


:shock:

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 2:46pm
by Mick F
I can agree with that too.
Narrow tubes like wot I use are a devil to repair. Only the smallest patches will fit, so if there's a hole any bigger than "tiny" the tube gets binned.

Punctures happen so rarely, so tubes last for years.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 2:56pm
by Bicycler
Maybe the people throwing them out could wait until they have a few and offer them up to someone on the forum for the postage cost? I'm sure there's someone who wouldn't mind fixing some punctures en masse and could give them homes or keep them as spares.

It's a different matter if they are beyond repair but it seems really wasteful to throw away serviceable stuff. Inspired by Horizon's link in another thread about recycling (viewtopic.php?f=7&t=86348) it would be good if we all offered up our unwanted/obsolete stuff after a spares box clearout before resorting to the bin

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 3:08pm
by mig
after they p******* once then i find other uses for them - chainstay protectors, mudflaps etc etc.

but anyone wanting them would be welcome but i would think posting the blighters isn't that cost effective!

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 3:11pm
by horizon
The Mechanic wrote: Then they get binned. Life is too short.


I suppose the moral point is that other people's lives are too short (possibly in China where inner tubes are made) while ours in the West are somewhat longer and more luxurious.

And while we're on the subject, what do you (or your representatives) do with them once they've been binned?

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 3:29pm
by Hein
I have a very cheap 70's bike I use for areas where theft is likely. When I brought it on the road again this year (after a similar bike was nicked), I had to put new tubes on it as the old (probably original) ones were flat every two weeks due to aged rubber.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 3:53pm
by [XAP]Bob
I have recently had a couple of them decide to give up after a few years - well, after a good stout hit after a few years. Neither were pinch punctures - they both split along the seam.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 3:53pm
by Brucey
skinny tubes are more awkward and stress the patch more too. Then there's the issue of consequences should the repair fail.

Having said that I do most of my riding on patched tubes, but I've found out the hard way what works well and what doesn't.

Environmentally, chucking tubes that can be repaired is pretty bad. Nearly all tubes are made from synthetic rubber, which is made from oil. Between that and the shipping etc, I worked out that to get a typical inner tube made in the far east and thence to the customer uses at least 1 litre of oil and produces at least 1kg of CO2.

cheers

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 30 Apr 2014, 4:05pm
by AndyBSG
Mine usually get replaced when I bend the valve... No idea what I'm doing to them when I pump them up to cause so many bent valves!

That aside though, I have some tubes that have close to a dozen patches on them. They all work fine and patching them only takes a few minutes so unless the patches are close together I see no need to buy new tubes.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 3 May 2014, 10:30am
by Cycling Cat
Bicycler wrote:Maybe the people throwing them out could wait until they have a few and offer them up to someone on the forum for the postage cost? I'm sure there's someone who wouldn't mind fixing some punctures en masse and could give them homes or keep them as spares.

It's a different matter if they are beyond repair but it seems really wasteful to throw away serviceable stuff. Inspired by Horizon's link in another thread about recycling (viewtopic.php?f=7&t=86348) it would be good if we all offered up our unwanted/obsolete stuff after a spares box clearout before resorting to the bin


The Freecycle site is worthy of a visit not only for bikes, but to give stuff away. Someone once asked for inner tubes for a non-cycling purpose so I gladly gave them some that were beyond repair.

Re: How long do inner tubes last?

Posted: 4 May 2014, 11:28am
by The Mechanic
horizon wrote:
The Mechanic wrote: Then they get binned. Life is too short.


I suppose the moral point is that other people's lives are too short (possibly in China where inner tubes are made) while ours in the West are somewhat longer and more luxurious.

And while we're on the subject, what do you (or your representatives) do with them once they've been binned?


Not sure what is meant by "representatives" but I don't do anything with them. I guess the bin men do something with them when they empty my bins. I will ask next time I see them. BTW I got a flat yesterday, the first one this year. I was riding my addax bike over a rough mountain pass and I think I hit a protruding rock too hard. 28mm tyres are not the best for that kind of terrain but the local CTC decided to take a detour. I might even have a go at fixing the tube which, of course, I brought home with me, not left on the hillside.