Hints & Tips

How To Store Inner Tubes to Prevent Flat Tyres

There's nothing more annoying than changing a tube and finding it won't hold any air...

Most of us have probably been there. You’re on a ride when one of your tyres begins to feel wobbly and deflated. You stop, and sure enough discover a puncture. 

“No problem!” you exclaim, and set about swapping the tube for the new and unused one in your saddlebag. All seems to be going well, until you get to pumping up your shiny new rubber – when you find nothing happens. Your brand new inner tube is damaged in some way and won’t inflate. 

Most cyclists have a box, bag, shelf, <other> of inner tubes in their home, ready and waiting for when puncture strikes. However, if you’re lucky enough to suffer so few punctures that they’re sitting on the shelf for a while, you should make sure they’re well taken care of to avoid the situation above. 

Here are some factors to consider…

In Your Saddle Bag

  • Avoid leaving tubes squashed into a saddle bag for long periods of time. Forcing the tube into a small space could cause weakness where the tube is folded and pressure applied. Try to use a saddle bag with enough space, and don’t leave them in there forever!
  • Store the tube with the valve cap on – the valve itself is sharp enough to dig into the rubber and cause weakness or create a hole. Not only that, but if the valve is damaged or bent it may fail as well
  • Be careful to keep the tube separate from potentially malicious items in your saddlebagmultitools for example
  • Don’t use a rubber band to fold your tube. Instead, store it as it was/should have been in the box – with the valve on the inside and a band around the outside of the tube as opposed to running width ways where it could apply pressure and cause weakness.

  • Try to use the band that came with the tube – not your own standard office-issue rubber band, which could stick to the tube and tear it when removed…

At Home

  • Though your rubber isn’t going to melt at the sight of sunlight, it doesn’t like UV rays long term. Therefore, store your tubes away from direct sunlight
  • The same applies for heat – a short exposure shouldn’t do any harm, but keeping inner tubes on the shelf above the radiator isn’t going to do them any good
  • Cold isn’t great either as it can cause the rubber to become brittle. Basically, think cool and dark (under the stairs, the cupboard below the kitchen sink…)
  • Rubber can react with oxygen and some people do keep them in zip tied bags or jiffy bags to guard against this. However, at this point we’re really talking storage over a period of years
  • Rubber can be it’s own worst enemy, sticking to itself when compressed and then tearing when separated. Again, this is more a concern when you’re storing them for long periods. However, if you have bought a discounted bundle and anticipate a long shelf life, unravel the tube, and sprinkle it with talcum powder to prevent this
  • If you’re one of the disciplined riders who patches and repairs punctured inner tubes, make sure you have some form of marking system so that you know which are fixed and are awaiting a fix. This could be folding style, a colours bag – anything. Y0u wouldn’t wan’t to get them mixed up.

Fitting The New Tube

Even if you’ve done all this, and not damaged your tube in storage, you can still encounter problems with your new tube (sorry!). One of the most common causes of a ‘replaced tube failure’ is user error – catching the tube between rim and tyre when inflating or ripping it with an over-zealous tyre lever. When fitting a new tube…

  • Always pump a tiny bit of air into your new tube before inserting it into the tyre, to help it form the correct shape and avoid bunching
  • Be incredibly careful with your tyre levers – fit as much of the tyre as you can without them, then make sure you don’t contact the tube when you do need that last little push

Want to make punctured tubes new again? Here’s our guide to patching punctured tubes. 

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