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Perishing Cycle Inner Tubes and Tyres

Exactly how old is your rubber ?

The question sounds like a cue for a joke, but there are probably only two areas that we can think of where the answer is pretty important!

Earlier this year a couple of our rides were brought to an early conclusion; the first because of a defective inner tube and the second the result of a defective tyre. However, these were not manufacturing faults. The first incident started out as a simple puncture and the recipient of the thorn decided to just replace his inner tube. Unfortunately he couldn't get any air into it.

A sticky problem

On closer inspection we discovered that the tube was stuck to itself inside at the valve position and also at various points around its circumference. Assuming that it had got a bit warm in the summer, we did a bit of squeezing and manipulating, got some air into the tube and installed it in the tyre. Within a few minutes it was obviously deflating, so we removed it again assuming there was a valve problem or minor puncture.

In fact, there were hairline cracks all the way around the part of the tube that was folded in the packet, indicating fatigue rubber. This was a tube that had only been bought six months previously from a major retailer.

Old stock ?

In the absence of some sort of manufacturing date of course it is impossible to tell how old a tube that you buy might be. It could have been sitting at the back of a warehouse for ages, or it may have just arrived in the shop.

So from now on every tube we buy gets an inspection to see if any part of it is stuck or has any tiny cracks in it !

Thinking about it, it is quite surprising that there doesn't seem to be any information about the length of time an inner tube should last for in its packet, or any clues as to when it was made.

More rubber fatigue

Again, in a related area one of us bought a pair of tyres from a local bike shop. Within a year the front tyre seemed to have developed some sort of stress cracks in the tyre walls; this was definitely not due to riding on a puncture or any sidewall impact damage.

At the moment the tyre is still being ridden on with some insurance in a bike bag, in the form of a piece of spare sidewall in case they split suddenly occurs.

So, the same question appears: when were each of these tyres made and how long could you expect them to last without perishing if they are stocked in a back room of a small bike shop ?

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