Do Bike Inner Tubes Go Bad?

Keeping all the parts on your bike in working condition is essential. Even down to the inner tubes on your bike tires! While it may not seem like much, it can be critical to your riding. It is important to remember it is there and ensure that it hasn’t gone bad before you take off on your next ride.

The bike’s inner tube helps maintain the air in your tires. Therefore, it is a safety concern and one you should check periodically. Especially if the last change has been several years ago.

Do Bike Inner Tubes Go Bad?

It is possible for bike inner tubes to go bad over time. Like any other part, they can experience wear and tear which causes the piece to break or break down. This will depend on how long it has been on the bike. 

When it is time to have the inner tubes replaces, you need to know what to look for and what can potentially cause them to go bad.

Inner bike tube

What Are Bike Inner Tubes Made Of?

Inner tubes are made from a particularly hard plastic that is meant to withstand the pressure put on them from years of tires, rims, and excessive riding on your bike. The average plastic pieces or cheaper pieces cannot withstand the pressure put on them by true cyclists who spend lots of miles on their bikes each week.

The lifespan of a bike’s inner tube averages between 10 and 15 years, depending on a variety of factors.

What Caused My Inner Bike Tube To Go Bad?

There are several reasons why your inner bike tube can go bad. Depending on the condition your bike is in, they can happen faster than others.

  • Average wear and tear from the environment
  • Replaced with a cheaper material
  • Cross-country terrain riding
  • Riding on damaged rims

Related article – When Should I Replace My Bike Wheels?

Average Wear And Tear

Depending on where you are storing your bike when you are not riding, the environment where your bike is stored can have a significant impact on the condition of the inner bike tube. 

For example, if you keep your bike stored away in a garage or your home out of the weather, then the inner bike tube will last much longer than if it were outside. Being outside in the elements will force the plastic to start breaking down sooner and require a new inner tube.

Exploded inner bike tube

Replaced With A Cheaper Material

Some regular bike riders try to cut costs by going with a cheaper plastic inner tube. 

Unfortunately, you will get what you pay for. If you ride your bike pretty heavily, the cheap inner bike tube will start to break down and require you to replace it again. Having to replace this part so soon is a sign that it cannot keep up with the demand and the current use of your bike.

Cross-Country Terrain

While there are some who only bike out on smooth, flat trails a few times a week, cyclists who are well into the cross-country training and trails find that their bike inner tubes will start to go bad a lot faster. 

This is due to the hard jumps that happen regularly with the bikes, the jagged edges on the rocky terrain, and steady exposure to an uneven surface. Cross-country terrain adds a level of pressure that others do not.

Riding On Damaged Rims

It is important to make sure the rims on your bike stay in good condition. If they are damaged and you continue to ride on them, they can have long-term effects. This includes damage to the inner bike tubes. 

These broken ribs will start to rub a hole in the inner tube and cause irreversible damage if it isn’t fixed right away.

Related article – When Should I Replace My Bike Rims?

How Do I Know My Bike Inner Tube Has Gone Bad?

If you are not sure about your bike’s inner tube’s condition, look out for these few signs. If these sound familiar, then it’s time to head to the shop and have the inner bike tube looked at, and replaced, if necessary.

  • Excessive patches on the inner tube
  • Large rip or tear that cannot be repaired
  • Cracking or dry rotting
Bike mechanic fixing wheel

Excessive Patches

One of the biggest signs that you need to replace your bike’s inner tubes is when you have patched the current tubes to the point that they can no longer be patched. 

Patching allows you to prolong their lifespan and for many cyclists, it gives them years back on their inner tubes. However, when there is a new tear, and you just don’t have the space to patch it, it is time to make the responsible choice and get new bike inner tubes!

Large Rip And Tears

Sometimes you can damage your bike’s inner tube, but the rip or tear in it is too long to patch. When you take it in to be patched, the bike shop will let you know that the patch will not help, and you will not be able to maintain the air that you need in your bike unless you get a new one.

Cracking Or Dry Rotting

Those inner bike tubes that have lasted for some of the longest lifespans are usually replaced when they begin cracking.

This is because time and the environment started wearing them down and the plastic’s quality is no longer safe. Dry rotting is a sign that your bike has been sitting up for a while and started breaking down due to the elements.

Is This A Hard Fix To Replace Bike Inner Tubes That Have Gone Bad?

No, if you need to have your inner bike tubes replaced, this is a fix that will take a couple of hours or a day of dropping your bike off at the shop. 

It is also a pretty affordable fix, so it’s worth it if means that you will be safe when you take on your next trail ride, getting and maintaining quality air in your tires.

You may also be interested in Best Electric Bike Pump – Buying Guide.

Hi, I'm Harry, the owner of this site! A 30-something MAMIL - a middle-aged man in lycra. An avid cyclist who is looking to maintain a baseline level of fitness to be able to enjoy the great outdoors on weekend rides with his mates!

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