Fair enough; this won’t strike a chord with every RCUK reader. Those who throw away punctured inner tubes are advised to turn away now. However, if you’ve ever tired of hunting around for a decent inner tube, read on…
Basically, there are two sorts of inner tube: those that have a puncture, and those that are going to get a puncture. It is useful to be able to differentiate them, especially when some of the former are likely to get mixed in with some of the latter in some box hidden in the shed.
The prime time for getting them mixed up is on returning from a puncture-stricken ride, but at any opportunity they will mingle. Even if kept apart, they can still confuse the owner. That tube hanging up over there; has it got a hole in it or not? Yes, you can inflate it and see how it holds up, but this can take time.
Here is a simple way to ensure that you always know which tubes are good to go and how to keep them that way.
Start by expelling all the air from the tube. This is easily done by rolling it from the side opposite the valve with the valve open. Once the air is out, do up the valve to keep it out.
Now hold the valve at the top of the now-flat loop of rubber and bring the bottom of the loop up to meet it. You now have two loops. Make sure they are the same length. Fold the end of one inwards, leaving about one inch free space next to the valve. Fold the newly-established end inwards so it stops halfway along the bit previously folded. Finally, fold the folded bit (got that?) over to make a bunch of rubber 12 layers thick. The free space left next to the valve allows this bunch to fold up neatly against it.
Do the same on the other side of the valve, and you have a tube that is not only visibly ready for service, but nicely shaped for stowage and to prevent the valve damaging its own or other tubes. If every sound tube is folded, either like this or in some other distinctive manner, there is no chance of picking a punctured tube from the pile.
For absolute peace of mind, wrap one or two tubes in a protective sheet of rubberized fabric. The resulting bundle fits perfectly in most saddle packs…