As long as you know how to do it, changing a flat bike tire is a rather simple remedy. It will ultimately happen whether you ride on smooth pavement, bumpy gravel, or rugged singletrack trails, so you might as well be ready with both the essential tools and the bike repair expertise you need to handle the issue.
Below, we go through all you need to know about changing a bike tire, including the successful bike tire repair advice.
The first thing to remember is that you should always have tire levers, a spare tube that is the right size, and an inflation tool, whether it be a CO2 cartridge or a tiny pump. A repair kit or tire plug might also be something to think about, as they can be useful for some riders. You can skip to the tubeless part by scrolling down if you use tubeless tires. Here is your detailed instruction manual, when you’re ready to start.
Follow These Steps to Change a Tire and Fix a Flat
Step 1: Remove the Tire
Take out the wheel first. Keep your bike upright and engage the toughest gear in your drivetrain if you have a rear-wheel flat. You might also need to loosen the brake if your bike has rim brakes, which many bikes still have today.
Next, place yourself on the side of your bike that isn’t the drive (across from the chain) and remove the wheel by either releasing the quick release or unthreading the thru-axle.
You can now take the tire off. To dislodge a tire, place the rounded end of one tire lever under the tire’s bead (outside edge). To keep the lever in place and prevent the unseated tire from popping back into the rim, fix the other end to a spoke. Once one side of the tire is off, push the second lever clockwise around the rim by hooking it under the bead adjacent to the previous one. The tire doesn’t have to be taken off entirely.
Step 2: Find the Culprit
When the tire is free, remove the old tube (if necessary) and search for the flat, which may have been caused by a thorn, piece of glass, or other sharp object. To avoid getting another flat, carefully run your fingertips around the inside of your tire and rim to make sure nothing sharp is left behind. Examine the tire’s exterior as well, this time keeping an eye out for any potential foreign objects that may still be embedded in the rubber.
Pump some air into the old tube to find the leak if you’re using tubes and want to do some detective work. A pinch-flat, where the tube becomes pinched between the tire and rim, is indicated by two holes next to each other. A single hole indicates that a sharp object most likely caused your flat. You can double check the area where the hole is to make sure the offender is removed by aligning the tube with the tire using the valve as a point of reference.
Step 3: Patch the Problem
You can patch your tube with a patch kit if you’re the frugal type who likes to reuse old tubes or if you’ve had multiple flats on your ride and are out of spare tires. Go to the next section if you have a new tube.
To begin, use an emery cloth to clean the punctured area and roughen the surface. Simply place it over the hole and firmly press for a glueless patch. Add a thin layer of glue to the tube and patch if the patch calls for glue. When the glue becomes tacky, place the patch on top and press firmly to ensure that it adheres.
Step 4: Install the Tube
Now, just enough air should be pumped into your repaired or new tube to keep its shape. This makes fitting it inside the tire simpler. Position the tube inside the tire after installing the valve stem straight through the valve hole in the rim. Rolling the bead away from you, roll the tire back onto the rim with your hands. To avoid damaging your new tube, try to avoid using levers to reseat the tire. Once you reach the valve stem, tuck the tire bead into the rim on both sides and push up on the stem to insert the tube into the tire.
As you move around the rim, gently push the tire to the side to make sure the tire bead isn’t squeezing the tube. After that, inflate to the proper PSI and make sure the bead is properly seated.
Step 5: Reinstall the Wheel
Reattach your wheel if everything appears to be in order, making sure the quick release or thru-axle lever is located on the side of your drivetrain opposite the wheel.
If your rear wheel flatted, carefully reattach the wheel to the frame by wrapping the top of the chain around the cassette’s smallest cog. You can either re-install the thru-axle into the frame and hub and thread it closed, or you can close your quick release and, if appropriate, your rim brakes.
Lift the rear wheel one last time and give your cranks a quick spin to check sure everything is back in place and working properly. Remount your bike and take pleasure in the remainder of your ride if everything is in order.
How to Plug a Tubeless Tire Instead
Your sealant should work without you even noticing it for tubeless systems, which are all but standard in mountain biking and growing in popularity on gravel, cyclocross, and even some road cycles. To make sure the tire has enough sealant and that it hasn’t dried out, check your sealant frequently (every three to six months).
However, you might require a tire plug to stop air loss in the case of a larger puncture or side-wall tear. To plug the hole without even taking off the wheel, plug kits are provided with a little rubber strip and an insertion tool. Re-inflate your tire to the recommended pressure to check that it is holding air after you’ve located the puncture and inserted the rubber plug. If so, begin riding once more while periodically making sure the fix is holding. Additionally, you may apply more sealant, but you would need to bring a tool to remove the valve core and a tiny quantity of sealant.
You might attempt a patch or a boot on the tire if the air loss is being caused by a puncture that cannot be repaired with a plug. But fair warning: If you don’t completely clean the region, it will probably be challenging to get a patch to stick to your sealant-coated tire. By letting all the air out and rupturing the seal between the rim and tire, applying more sealant or a patch could also lead to another issue. The tire bead will probably be challenging to reinstall onto the rim immediately. Use a spare emergency tube to go through the trip and take care of it at home or at a bike shop is the simplest approach to ensure that your tire still holds air at this point.
Learn more: 9 Tips on Mountain Biking for Beginners