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Wacky World of Rubber: Rubber bands meet the road

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Sometimes science leads you on a journey. Sometimes that journey is a couple miles down the road and back on a tire made completely out of rubber bands.

As part of Orion Dajnowicz's challenge to see what materials will work as a tire (such as bubble wrap or duct tape, natch), the crew decided to test something that's at least actually made from rubber: rubber bands.

The experiment was trouble from the start. After visiting multiple stores to collect a few thousand rubber bands, Dajnowicz and crew realized that the bands were too small to fit the rim. Then they hit on a method of daisy-chaining the rubber bands together in a style that isn't too far away from cord. They loop the bands around the rim to build up a "tire," only to realize that the rubber band tire isn't thick enough to keep the rim off the ground when mounted on a car.

At about the 7-minute mark, they get a smaller rim to work with, and recoil the thousands of rubber bands back on. With the smaller size, the tire fills out past the edge and actually seems to build a little bit of a sidewall. But the real test is at about 8:30, when they mount the new tire onto a car and take it for a spin.

Once it gets moving, the rubber band tire handles the driveway and the gravel side road just fine. It even holds up on a 45-mph stretch of asphalt road. But bands start snapping when they decide to take a hard turn to test traction. Even with the loss of some of the rubber bands, the tire stays together for the most part for the rest of the drive. Anyone curious about the mess could just follow the trail of snapped rubber bands back to the shop.

The grand finale is a tire rev at 10:20, sending rubber band cord flying but incredibly still not emptying the rim. It turns out: Rubber is pretty decent at making a tire, even if it's rubber bands.

Kyle Brown is a reporter for Rubber & Plastics News who watched a lot of Mr. Wizard and Bill Nye while growing up. Follow him on Twitter at @kbrownRPN.