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I have a number of bikes/scooters for which I want to be able to repair a puncture while riding.

For the bikes I use the most, 622mm rim diameter bikes with 28mm-40mm tubes, I carry a spare tube in my emergency toolkit in the bag I always use. The toolkit also contains all the required tools to patch tubes and do other kinds of repairs.

A Brompton has a spare tube pushed inside the main frame tube that folds into two. I can pull the spare tube from there whenever there's a puncture.

A fatbike has the huge spare tube in the bike, in a bottle holder.

The most recent addition is an electric scooter. It uses 18mm axle nuts which required me to purchase an expensive titanium adjustable wrench (since a lightweight steel 4" wrench opens only 15mm, whereas a steel 6" wrench would be way too heavy to always carry).

Recently, I installed a spare tube into the e-scooter frame by using a zip tie. The plan is that if there's a puncture, I cut the zip tie and install the spare tube, and carry the old tube home in my bag.

However, I'm worried that the sharp plastic in the zip tie might damage the weak butyl rubber inner tube over time.

Does anyone have experience carrying a butyl spare tube that is held on the bicycle/scooter frame with zip ties? Do the zip ties damage the inner tube, or is it possible to still use an inner tube that has been carried on the frame this way for thousands of kilometers?

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  • Wow, you actually bought a Ti adjustable wrench? A few years ago, I mentioned that those exist, but I did not expect that anyone would actually drop the cash on one. Hopefully it lives up to your expectations!
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Jun 24 at 1:49
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    Why did you buy an adjustable and not an 18mm ring spanner (which has a better grip and can be cut down if required to save space/weight)?
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 24 at 12:02
  • @ChrisH Perhaps they want only one set of tools that they can carry to handle all their bikes/scooters? That’s the approach I take for reasons of money and sanity, albeit with a very well made compact self-adjusting wrench which can cleanly handle nuts that big and grips almost as well as a ring spanner or a properly sized socket wrench. Commented Jun 25 at 2:01
  • @AustinHemmelgarn that's reasonable, though I keep a little pouch on each bike with a tube and brake pads (both things that do vary between bikes) and a spanner would fit it there. Even a compact adjustable wouldn't fit in my tool bottle in place of the cheap stamped multi-spanner
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 25 at 5:54
  • About the titanium adjustable wrench: it saves 60 g over 6" steel wrench, costs 134 EUR. 2200 EUR per kilogram saved. Considering the price difference between for example Dura-Ace vs Ultegra rear derailleur, Dura-Ace costs 4700 EUR per kilogram saved. Besides, tool weight is in your jersey pocket or bag so it's considered annoying weight; weight on the bike doesn't annoy me at all. I agree 2200 EUR / kg is a bit pricey, but not absurdly so.
    – juhist
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:27

3 Answers 3

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It depends on how long the spare has been wrapped up and how much freedom of motion it has. And whether it sees a lot of sunlight/UV.

Abrasion will cause damage to a spare tube over time. If your tube is being rubbed by the frame, the Zip tie, or the bag it is in , then it will develop thinness and eventually a hole.

Instead of a zip tie directly on the tube, I use a butyl rubber band made by snipping up a dead tube. Because its the same kind of rubber, it does far less damage over time.

The spare tube sits inside a small plastic zip-lock bag to protect it from rubbing on tools, and lives in a backpack or in a small frame bag per bike (which helps minimise the chance of being caught with the wrong side tube)

If the tube were strapped firmly to the frame, it should last a couple years before it won't hold air. If you store your bike outside in the sunlight a lot, then that will accelerate aging.

Specific to the scooter - is it even possible to get the tyre off and a tube swapped on the roadside? Having worked on an A-bike with 6" wheels, there's no chance of a tyre swap outside the workshop. It may be worth exploring tyre sealant either in the tube or in the tyre and not carrying a spare tube.

As for the tool,check if a non-adjustable 18mm combo ring/open spanner will do the task. They're cheaper.

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    UV is a good point, maybe I have to put a protective sock around it, and consider whether it could be configured such that the zip tie only touches the sock, not the tube.
    – juhist
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:22
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I agree with your concern that the relatively narrow zip tie might cut into the tube over time. Also, consider that the teeth on the zip tie are facing inwards, rubbing against both the tube and the paint on your bike's frame. And as Criggie mentioned, there may be some long-term durability/reliability concerns (for the zip tie itself) related to heat and UV exposure, especially if the zip tie needs to be tensioned relatively firmly to hold the tube in place.

The standard solution for mounting tubes to frames seems to be Velcro and fabric straps such as the one pictured. Much better force distribution than a zip tie. They are quite affordable commercially, and making one yourself would also be quite an accessible sewing project. One additional benefit of these things is that they're reusable, so you could bundle CO2 cartridges, tire levers, etc. along with the tube and access them at any time.

enter image description here

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    Additionally putting it in a ziploc bag would fix any potential UV and oxidation issues (provided it doesn't slide out from under the velcro strap). Commented Jun 24 at 6:54
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica I've always found the bags to break up over time.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 24 at 12:03
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    @ChrisH Exactly -- instead of the tube ;-). Commented Jun 24 at 12:07
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica but far quicker, and not always obviously until I realise that the bag is full of water
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 24 at 12:08
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    @Jahaziel straps like this are a good beginner sewing project if you can borrow a machine, and the materials are cheap and useful (webbing can often be recovered from broken kit as well)
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 25 at 19:55
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A wide zip tie isn't too bad for sharp edges (6mm or 1/4") I'd use a releasable one and not cut it down too short because then you can open it without tools and use it to reattach the bad tube (if you don't have a bag on you and don't want to sling a dirty tube over you shoulders.

I have actually done this to hold tubes under bottle cages on bikes. However in that case I've got the access to use a rubber band made from an old tube, and prefer to do that. Presumably you haven't.

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    I tend to carry a couple of velcro-zip ties, because they're so versatile and light and reusable. Have even transported a pole pruner, and a car driveshaft by strapping it to the top tube with several.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 25 at 19:41
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    @Criggie I use them as well, though I don't often have spares with me. In work we've got rolls of the stuff, several metres long and securely double sided. I keep meaning to get a roll for home.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 25 at 19:53
  • Check out cdlnz.com/64329 for a bunch of styles. I have a bunch of these $2 ones cdlnz.com/VEL22002 which get used all the time, and I even have one of these: cdlnz.com/VEL430033B but never found a use for it in the car or the bike. The little ones can be daisy-chained with minimal loss of strength too.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 1 at 4:33

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