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Upcycle Your Bicycle: Put Your Old Bike Parts to Good Use

By Charlotte Murray

Like me, are you one of those people who keep bikes they never ride any more or a load of spare parts *just in case* they need them one day, only to find these parts years later in a box above a cupboard, having forgotten entirely that they’re there? Well, why don’t you upcycle them?

If you have an entire bike you want to upcycle, you can check out our list here.

Retread your shoes

Have you given up cycling in favour of running? Of course not! But if you have an old knobbly tyre hanging around and a pair of shoes with no tread left, put that tyre to use.

Cut the tyre into strips and flatten them out lengthways across the bottom of your shoe. Glue strips of the tyre onto the bottom of your shoe, and repeat in lengths until you reach the bottom. Cut off any excess tyre around the base of the shoe. You can find a full how-to guide here. Et voilà! Your trainers are good for another few hundred miles (longevity not guaranteed).

Create a belt

The shoes might take up quite a bit of your tyre but if you’ve got any other spare tyres, then why not create a belt out of them? Leather is expensive so try this alternative and make a fashion statement whilst you’re at it.

If you have another belt to work from, you can easily determine the size that you want. You’ll also need a couple of extra bits like the buckle but you could take those off an old belt and recycle two items! For full instructions on creating a belt from a bike tyre, you can read this handy how-to guide.

In the garden

Bike parts are pretty sturdy and to some extent, cope well with being weathered. For this reason, they can be put to use in your garden.

Maybe you’ve dented your bike wheel but can’t bear to part with it. You can use these for a variety of purposes. One example is taking a long rod of some sort, maybe a broom handle, inserting this into the centre hole of the wheel, then sticking the long rod into the ground, wheel side up. From here you can attach long pieces of twine to each spoke, and insert these into the ground.

These make an interesting feature on which you can grow climbing plants such as beans or ivy.

Make a wind chime

Another one for the garden. If you happen to have a bunch of old chain rings you have little use for, why not turn them into a wind chime? This will work best for the smallest of rings unless you want to make an XL wind chime.

Using one larger metal ring as the top of the wind chime, attach lengths of thin chain at different points on the ring. Attach the smaller rings to the ends of the chain at different heights and hang the creation outside your porch. Listen to the sweet sounds of your upcycling genius and enjoy!

A clock

Bike wheels can take all sorts of forms but if you’ve got one in slightly better condition and don’t want to relegate it to the garden, then you could try your hand at turning it into a clock. It’s not quite as complicated as it sounds and involves using the parts of an existing clock (preferably with long enough hands to read over the spokes) and fixing these to the wheel. There are plenty of how-to guides on the internet so you can turn your hand (get it?) at this useful upcycling project.

Create chain art

If you’ve got lengths of chain or even little links lying around, why not create art out of them? Take a reclaimed piece of wood and using either glue or thin nails, arrange your chain into whichever shape you feel inspired by. You could even shape them into words and create a sign for your home.

Donate it to an existing upcycling project

You might simply not have the time or the inclination to begin taking your bike to bits and turning it into random objects. We hear you. But maybe the bike also isn’t quite in good enough condition to sell.

There are projects that exist to take your old bikes, tinker with them until they’re fit-for-purpose and donate them to a good cause, be that to those on lower incomes or even refugees. Take for example the Bike Project, located in England, who offer upcycling as well as things like cycling lessons for refugee women. There are similar projects across the world, so find one local to you and create something positive out of your old bike.

Let us know what creations you come up with from your old bike parts so we can inspire others by recycling. Happy (up)cycling!