17 May 2011

Bike Tire Flip Flops

Back in 2004 I fell in love with a pair of flip flops, $20 from the REI in St. Louis. By the following summer, they were pretty well worn through. So another $20 and voila, another pair (sadly, the store was out of black, so they weren't an exact replacement). By the following summer, the new pair was almost worn through. The first pair - by then house flops - were REALLY worn through. So, knowing that Teva would re-sole some of their models, I dropped an e-mail to see if their flops were among the re-soleable shoes... the predecessor of this is what I have. No luck. No love for the cushy foam-soles. I was out of luck.

Now, add 8 hrs of a drive to the nearest REI. Ignore that; pretend shipping was free. How to face the guilt of retiring a perfectly reasonable TWO PAIRS of some of the fondest foot-memories I have ('flopping 2 months in CA, 'flopping through streams in IL, 'flopping across two college campuses and countless birding trips, the list goes on!) ...when only the soles were a problem? Every walking-of-the-dogs was a new thorn poking through the soles, a new bur jabbing up from the heel, a fresh reminder of what, unfortunately, needed to be replaced.

How do you re-sole a flip flop? Easy. You admit defeat and call yourself a waste of resources and wish that shoe repair places actually existed or maybe that things were made to last (good-old-days syndrome).

But then, a glimmer of hope: Bike Man is a friend of ours. Matt's bike is from Bike Man (can we call him John yet?) and I have a new set of tires from him and I thought, just maybe, if WWII era 'flops were made out of stamped tires, where could I find a lighter, thinner substitute? Perhaps an old bike tire? John had a pile out back, and soon I was merrily chopping a tire into Heidi-foot long segments. Two pairs of flops, 6 or 7 Heidi-foot-lengths in one tire, plenty of room to experiment!

You can see where this is going:

For those interested in flops with awesome tread*:

1) Cut up tires
2) Trim off wire-reinforced edge of tire (thankfully I have narrow feet, so it worked nicely)
3) Clean inside of tire, bottom of flop
4) Apply Goop with abandon; smush together for ~48 hrs
5) Trim excess tire
6) Run around like a madman and brag about it all over the internet ;-)

* These treads are GRIPPY, it's awesome! Because the tread on a bike tire is only in the middle, though, it's taking a bit of adjusting - there's less support under my big toe. For less grippy tires, or really worn treads, I think it'd work out more smoothly. Just depends on how/where you want to use them.

So go forth and don't give up on your beloved flops! Reduce, reuse, re-flop!


  1. http://www.okabashi.com makes recyclable flip flops that are VERY comfy.

  2. You wore through the sole of a flip-flop... What else is there aside from the strap?!

  3. G, they're perfectly comfy if you're standing still on a level surface! So the contours that fit my feet are intact; now there's a layer of tread to help me not get stabbed when I walk =)

  4. Wow very interesting article and more information...
    Looks amazing!!!! thank u so much...

    Tires in Florida

  5. Props to you! It looks really good, but thanks for the tips on possibly using ones with less prominent treads. Hope you guys have been well!

  6. Thanks, Kelly! It didn't take too much effort to walk normally with the crazy treads, but I think smoother tires would be such a smooth transition it would hardly be noticed; however, it'd leave normal looking footprints (right now I leave really weird looking rectangles of bike tread!)

    Best to you and the family =)