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Thread: Bicycle tires, post-apocalypse

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    Senior Member Gardenarian's Avatar
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    Bicycle tires, post-apocalypse

    Okay, here's a crazy question. I'm writing a post-apocalyptic novel and the characters ride bicycles. I figure for a while they can scavenge parts or make do - say, turning old car tires into bicycle tire. Put there comes a point when they have to start doing things from scratch.

    Anyone have any ideas about how you would keep a bicycle going under such conditions? I think the metal parts will last a good long while, and they have plenty of bikes to cannibalize, but the tires/tubes are going to die and/or degrade.

    I have ordered "The knowledge : how to rebuild our world from scratch" by Lewis Dartnell from the library - I hope it gives me some insight into more of these kind of issues.

    Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
    "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. -- Gandalf

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    I wish I had some insights for you.

    But as someone who grew up on all sorts of post-apocalyptic narratives, studied them in graduate school, and still loves the genre let me say I am intrigued by your novel. Can you share anything more about it?

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Dry rot of the tubes and tires will be quite problematic. No ideas on how to make new tires/tubes from scratch, I suspect it requires some significant industrial infrastructure.

    Even in the 3rd-world today, we see real tires/tubes in use.

    Perhaps some sort of expedient tire material, perhaps a hard-rubber or something, not pneumatic?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    Dry rot of the tubes and tires will be quite problematic. No ideas on how to make new tires/tubes from scratch, I suspect it requires some significant industrial infrastructure.

    Even in the 3rd-world today, we see real tires/tubes in use.

    Perhaps some sort of expedient tire material, perhaps a hard-rubber or something, not pneumatic?
    In my bike repair class the instructor/mechanic mentioned something about tires that are nearly impervious to damage. The innertubes are made of something really tough.

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    Several bits of info could be helpful. How close were they to the blast? (the heat may melt tires, and someone might try to stuff broken rubber bits into a tire as a sort of filler)
    What other things are close and handy? Foam insulation might be used inside the tire. This could be either the expanding foam like they fill tires with now or some other kind of foam with heat/fire to stick it to stuff.
    In other nuclear things (thinking it was a Mad Max movie), they just rode on the rims.
    There are industrial tires (thicker) as well as solid tires still. (commercial uses) The prior are what is recommended for those Chinese motors to make a bicycle into something like a Whizzer. A friend bought a motor and used some old bikes to do this for him and his wife (70+ and wanted to know if he decided he pedaled too far, could get back home). I'd like to find an old bike and make a fake, antique motorcycle.

    Honestly, speaking of the rubber, drying out or being exposed to heat, remember the bicycle pumps, tend to have rubber in them as well (might loose your air source first).

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    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    Some kind of plant that could be pounded into fiberous strands then tightly woven. Almost like a burlap. When cut into strips it could be would around the rim. Maybe a coating of some type of sap that could be continuously reapplied to hold up to the wear.

    Or or the survivors could be in the south where there are alligators. They kill them for meat and use the tough hide for shoes and bicycle tires. Alternatively some type of animal part that is tough.

    Maybe be find some books about Curtis or the Wrights when they owned bicycle shops. They made all their parts from scratch in the early 1900's before the Internet! (Imagine). Maybe your survivors could have horses survive with them and that could be their transportation.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Weren't bike wheels originally made of wood?

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    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    http://www.bikeforums.net/living-car...pocalypse.html

    http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/...commuting.html (wood tires)


    Aren't some of the smaller bike tires solid rubber (no air)...that would at least last a little longer.
    I guess I'd grab cans of that no-flat stuff or cans of spray insulation foam to fill a tire that's gone flat.
    I could resort to wrapping cloth tightly and maybe use fishing string wrapped around it to create small ropes of cloth to replace the rubber (wouldn't last too long though...fiber may already be breaking down before all the spare tires.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

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    Senior Member Ultralight's Avatar
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    Come the apocalypse I'll be riding a mule.

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    You've hit on where post-apocalyptic fiction breaks down for me. There always seem to be unspecified sources of ammunition, shoes and gasoline. Black powder in makeshift muskets maybe, but a lot of PAF includes automatic weapons. People seem to scavenge resources from the old civilization way beyond the point you'd expect oxidation and putrefaction to have run it's course. There don't seem to be enough sick people or rotten teeth. People seem way too clean and too literate. In some climes, you'd need to spend a good quarter of your time chopping wood, which would probably not do much to advance the plot.

    The roads and bridges often seem to be in much better shape than you'd expect un-maintained pavement to look after a few years.

    I realize most of this stuff is produced for adolescents, but even so the standard of verisimilitude seems pretty low.

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