Thursday, February 26, 2015

Repairing Shoes with Rubber from Bikes

I must give credit where it is due and the video below is what inspired me.

Thank you, Tyrone Corbett.

The spare tire in my station wagon doesn't hold air anymore so I tried convincing my mom that we should get a new spare for it and donate the old one to me to repair my shoes.  That plan didn't succeed so I did what logically was the next best thing: I used an old city bike tire to re-sole my beloved Nikes.  

To give some background, prior to this, I'd worn these shoes almost every day for the last four years.  They are my favorite shoes in the world.  They're super comfy and go well with most of my outfits.  They're also very well-made, but unfortunately, the soles have always been very thin.  I wore these so much that the soles wore through and I couldn't get off my bike on a rainy day without getting a shoe-full of water.  

After Thanksgiving break, I took the 700 x 38c tire that I removed from my Ross 10-speed and cut it up into pieces.  I figured the hybrid/city pattern would be ideal, anyway.  My first attempt was done using "Shoe goo" adhesive.  I stood on the shoes for a couple hours after gluing the tire pieces and let it cure for a few days.  In the photos above, the leftover tire and air bag were placed under my toes to ensure that the new soles stuck to the upward-curving part of my shoes.  

After a few days, I trimmed the soles into shape but sadly, the fabric inside the tires didn't seem to like the adhesive.  Anyway, after this first attempt, the shoes would sit for about two months without being worn.  

In the meantime, I tried using an inner tube and the same adhesive to repair my other pair of Nikes which opened up in front like an alligator.  I don't love these shoes nearly as much but they're pretty old as well.  I generally use these as brakes on rainy days when my ancient, steel-wheeled Raleigh can't stop.  

My front-end repair was successful; however, despite plugging up the holes in the sole with the "Shoe goo," things returned to normal. Every time I got off my bike in the snow, water got into the shoe from the bottom.  I wore these until a week ago when finally I broke down and bought another pair of cheap shoes that could take the place of these.  It occurred to me that it was the first time in four years that I had thrown out a pair of shoes.  I never truly loved these ones but it still made me sad.  

Fast forward to last week.  I bought a can of Weldwood cement a month prior, as suggested by another guy who was re-soling shoes with a car tire.   I finally sat myself down and completely re-did both soles with the Weldwood.  It seemed to work wonderfully right away.  

After letting the cement cure for many days, I decided to start wearing my beloved Nikes today.  The feeling was very bouncy and soft due to the curve of the bike tires.  Sadly, halfway through the day, the corners started peeling and by 5 PM, I could safely say that my experiment had failed.  I thought that since bike tires were softer and since the sole was made of many pieces, it would be more willing to flex with the shoe than a car tire would.  I still think it's the fabric inside the tire that is the culprit here; in the video and in other tutorials, each guy first skins the rubber off of the tire.  Bike tires are too thin for that.  Oh well, I guess it's back to the drawing board for this one.  I don't want to give up on these shoes just yet.