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Old 08-20-12, 01:35 PM   #1
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Can Tubes Fail From Disuse?

I haven’t gotten many flats (knock on wood) in recent times. Consequently I have tubes that are sitting unused either in my garage or bike bag for several years. At least two times within five years I’ve pulled out a tube from my bag to fix a flat and it would not hold air. I always pump a little air into a tube to test it before mounting, so I'm not puncturing it by accident during replacement. The brands have been different too. I store the tubes in a non climate controlled environment in FL. Is it possible they are dry rotting?
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Old 08-20-12, 01:39 PM   #2
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What part of the tube leaked?
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Old 08-20-12, 01:41 PM   #3
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Keep them in a box or drawer thus shielding them from UV light and they should be OK.
I bought a second hand bike which had not been ridden for 10 years the tyres were decomposing but the tubes were fine and I have been using them on the bike for years now.
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Old 08-20-12, 01:44 PM   #4
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Rubber gets kind of fragile and brittle when it gets old. UV and ozone accelerate the process quite a bit. Best place to store them is in your freezer, but most folks go through them faster than you do and don't bother.
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Old 08-20-12, 01:49 PM   #5
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I use to keep tubes in my garage for years until I discovered that they had rotted and were full of big holes. I had to throw several out. Now I keep them wrapped in kitchen wrap in a climate controlled part of the house. I've speculated that the tubes in the garage were exposed to too much ozone over a long period of time. It's interesting that tubes wrapped and stored in the tool kits on my bicycles in the garage have not decomposed like the ones that were unwrapped in the garage. Either way they were in the dark, that's why I suspect ozone, the difference seems to be the kitchen wrap more than anything else.
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Old 08-20-12, 02:04 PM   #6
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Latex tubes age quickly, and show it by turning brown. the color isn't the issue, but they get brittle and burst easily. That's why we used to store tubulars in the fridge.

Butyl tubes seem to last forever IME, and I've had no problems with tubes older than 10 tears if they're stored OK. But they can dry out and form creases if they're stored tightly folded, and will partly crack and leak when unfolded. The other issue is that there can be oxidation where the valve is bonded in. I've noticed that the problem of base of valve leaks which have gotten fairly common on PV tubes is much worse on tubes more than a year or two old, no matter how they're stored
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Old 08-20-12, 02:08 PM   #7
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I have had more problems with brand new tubes than the old ones.

I rode on a 20 y\o tube for 1500 miles. It never flatted.
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Old 08-20-12, 02:16 PM   #8
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I've patched some old tubes on CL bikes I flip.
I've ran into some that will pop a couple new pin holes in the immediate area of the patch.
I attribute that to the tube stretching "differently" in that area.
I wouldn't personally use an "ancient" tube for those reasons.
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Old 08-20-12, 02:22 PM   #9
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I zip loc bag spare tubes in talc . store in the dark..
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Old 08-20-12, 02:29 PM   #10
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Yes tubes do fail from age but usually it takes five years maybe more of poor storage. I put tube labeled Schwinn Authorized dealer 1979 on the somewhat worn box recently in a bike and it was just fine.

Last edited by zukahn1; 08-20-12 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 08-20-12, 04:57 PM   #11
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An inner tube left hanging, partly-inflated, can crack to the point of leakage in just a few months in high-smog areas.

A fabric bag is not quite good enough, especially when air currents blow through it.

Storing indoors, in a closet, seems like the ozone levels there must be extremely low as the tubes last for years.
Ozone is a polar molecule that is attracted to the organic materials in your house, so I theorize that the carpet and furniture quickly mops up most of the ozone if the windows are closed.

I use a thick poly bags for tubes that I carry on rides, and these (even the ones I leave sitting around in their bags) seem not to age at all even after many years time.
I choose the thick poly bags mainly for their resistance to abrasion, but little mylar bags that some foods come in are also extremely durable.

This is all I carry on road rides, but usually I carry only one inner tube.
Note the 5mm Allen key, tire-iron, innertube and glueless patches banded to my 39g pocket pump (so it can't fly out of my jersey pocket). I also have a 1g micro-screwdriver on my keychain for derailer adjustments. A lightweight innertube can be folded so small that other riders have mistaken it for a roll of rim tape!

Last edited by dddd; 08-20-12 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 08-20-12, 05:58 PM   #12
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An inner tube left hanging, partly-inflated, can crack to the point of leakage in just a few months in high-smog areas.

A fabric bag is not quite good enough, especially when air currents blow through it.

Storing indoors, in a closet, seems like the ozone levels there must be extremely low as the tubes last for years.
Ozone is a polar molecule that is attracted to the organic materials in your house, so I theorize that the carpet and furniture quickly mops up most of the ozone if the windows are closed.

I use a thick poly bags for tubes that I carry on rides, and these (even the ones I leave sitting around in their bags) seem not to age at all even after many years time.
I choose the thick poly bags mainly for their resistance to abrasion, but little mylar bags that some foods come in are also extremely durable.

This is all I carry on road rides, but usually I carry only one inner tube.
Note the 5mm Allen key, tire-iron, innertube and glueless patches banded to my 39g pocket pump (so it can't fly out of my jersey pocket). I also have a 1g micro-screwdriver on my keychain for derailer adjustments. A lightweight innertube can be folded so small that other riders have mistaken it for a roll of rim tape!
This info is just wrong complete BS there is no way smog effects tubes too failure in a couple of months.
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Old 08-20-12, 06:21 PM   #13
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Geez, I bought a used bike that was bought in new in 84 then after one ride hung in the attic for almost 30 years before he sold it-to me. The tires are the original tires and are good enough to ride on but I removed them because I wanted better tires, guess what I did? I reused the original tubes! Nearly 30 years of being in an attic and the tubes were fine, not sure why, the odd thing was that the rim strip was made of some sort of plastic and it was dry to the point of cracking at the touch, but the tubes and tires were fine.

I have a spare tube in my seat bag that's 5 years old that's kept in a zip lock bag and it's fine.
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Old 08-20-12, 07:41 PM   #14
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This info is just wrong complete BS there is no way smog effects tubes too failure in a couple of months.
Ozone kills em eventually. That kind of ozone exposure is unusual in just a few months. More likely is the valve seals are just dry, dirty or the tubes were defective all along.
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Old 08-20-12, 08:25 PM   #15
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"This info is just wrong complete BS there is no way smog effects tubes too failure in a couple of months."

I said a few months, no ned to alter my words(?).

You obviously have no experience living near California's central velley or in the foothills. The summer months is all it takes to get leaks in a tube left exposed.

From many posts I've seen here over the last year, I'd guess that ozone practically doesn't exist in many parts of the world.

I always keep a few patched tubes left slightly inflated to verify a thorough repair, but these have to be kept in a plastic bag or can be useless when needed. Thinner tubes succomb first, but normal tubes aren't that much thicker. I should have mentioned that.
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Old 08-20-12, 10:41 PM   #16
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You obviously have no experience living near California's central velley or in the foothills. The summer months is all it takes to get leaks in a tube left exposed.

.
I use to live in California including Palmdale/Lancaster, and Bakersfield, as well as Glendale, Simi Valley, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara. But I guess the bigger question is why would anyone leave a tube out exposed? All my tubes are either in their boxes and their plastic bags stored in my house, or in a plastic zip lock bag in my saddle bag. And in the 30 years I lived in California and cycling all those years I never had a problem with ozone or smog effecting my tubes, and I lived there back in the days when only 1 or 2 days out of a year you could see the Hollywood sign!! I had lots of tubes that were 5 to 8 years old and the only reason they ever got thrown away was due to unrepairable damage suffered while on the road, or too many patches. These were all ultralight tubes averaging between 65 to 75 grms in case your wondering if I was using thick thorn tubes.

And what's really "weird" is that my tires never cracked before they wore out...of course back then I was averaging 8,000 to 12,000 miles a year. But I had a Kenda Kwest that was on a MTB, I bought the tire new in 95 and that bike didn't see much miles and was still fine without cracks until I replaced it in 2011 which was about 8 years in California and 9 years in Indiana.
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Old 08-21-12, 02:42 AM   #17
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I store all my spare tubes in a small tin box - which I leave hidden in a corner of our oven. This way there is no chance that pelicans can get to them. Pelicans can pick open garage doors, bike bags and cling film - but they don't like it over 200 degrees.

Ozone is harmless, but pelicans - they're the culprit.
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Old 08-21-12, 05:59 AM   #18
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If you buy tubes in bulk to save $$$ and you have a vacuum sealer, just seal them in individual pouches and store in a dark, climate controlled area. Your butyl tubes will outlast you.
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Old 08-21-12, 06:48 AM   #19
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What part of the tube leaked?
On three of them it was a small hole kind of where you would expect the fold to be as the tire was stored in the bike bag. One had more of a gash about a quarter inch long, but not on the seem. It looks like it blew out from the inside.

Like some people suggested I'm thinking I need to extra bag them.

I know FL can be a harsh environment. I've had car tires dry rot before they reached the end of their tread life.
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Old 08-21-12, 08:22 AM   #20
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Like some people suggested I'm thinking I need to extra bag them.

I know FL can be a harsh environment. I've had car tires dry rot before they reached the end of their tread life.
Isn't that from the salty humid air? I agree, I would probably double bag them in that area.

But the largest cause for cracked tires is low tire pressure and sitting! add to that balmy Florida weather and you got a recipe for cracked tires. But on car tires their safe to drive on cracked as long as the cracks don't expose the cords.
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Old 08-21-12, 11:52 AM   #21
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In my earlier days of riding I had some tubes fail from abrasion when kept inside a loose fitting bag. It's all the vibration and jiggling of the tube against the bag (and road grit that eventually works its way into the bag), and tools/etc that are kept in the bag with it.

Ever since I got really small bags that take effort to stuff things into, I've never had this problem again.
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Old 08-21-12, 12:30 PM   #22
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Isn't that from the salty humid air? I agree, I would probably double bag them in that area.

But the largest cause for cracked tires is low tire pressure and sitting! add to that balmy Florida weather and you got a recipe for cracked tires. But on car tires their safe to drive on cracked as long as the cracks don't expose the cords.
Well, I only put about 7000 miles on my car each year. I put about 5200 on my bikes.

I thought ozone played a part too.
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Old 08-21-12, 05:13 PM   #23
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Best place to store them is in your freezer, .
Right next to the batteries and film.
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Old 08-21-12, 10:37 PM   #24
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You never put batteries or film in a freezer, you put them in the refrigerator.
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