What do you do if you have a flat tire? Are you really in the mood to walk the rest of your way home? You don’t have to. Learn how to change a bike tire and fix a flat easily with these instructions from Doityourself.
Changing a bike tire after getting a flat is no big deal if you know how to handle it. Whether you ride on smooth pavement, rough gravel, or rocky singletrack trails, it’s bound to happen eventually, so you might as well prepare yourself with the necessary tools and knowledge required to fix the problem.
Remove the Tire
Start by removing the wheel. Keep your bike upright, and if it’s a rear-wheel flat, shift your drivetrain into the hardest gear. If your bike has rim brakes, which many bikes still do, you may also need to loosen the brake. Next, position yourself on the non-drive side of your bike (opposite the chain) and either open the quick release or unthread the thru-axle to remove the wheel.
Find the Culprit
Once the tire is loose, pull out the old tube if applicable and look for the source of the flat. It may be a thorn, piece of glass, or some other sharp object. Carefully run your fingers along the inside of your tire and rim to make sure nothing sharp is left behind. Inspect the outside of the tire as well, looking for any foreign objects that might still be stuck in the rubber. If you’re using tubes and want to do a little detective work, pump some air into the old one to find the leak. Two holes side by side indicate a pinch-flat where the tube gets pinched between the tire and rim. A single hole is a sign that your flat was most likely caused by a sharp object. By lining up the tube with the tire using the valve as a point of reference, you can double check for sharp objects that may remain inside your tire.
Bike Inner Tire Patch Repair Kit
Bike Bag with Bicycle Repair Kits
45PCS Bike Repair Kits with 210 Psi Mini Pump
Patch the Problem
If you don’t have any more spare tubes, you can patch the one you have with a puncture kit. Start by cleaning and roughing up the punctured area with an emery cloth. For a glueless patch, simply stick it over the hole and press firmly. For a patch that requires glue, add a thin layer of glue to the tube and patch. Wait for the glue to get tacky, then apply the patch and press firmly until it adheres.
Install the Tube
Now inflate your new or patched tube just enough so that it holds its shape. This makes it easier to place inside the tire. Next, with the valve stem installed straight through the rim’s valve hole, position the tube inside the tire. Work the tire back onto the rim by rolling the bead away from yourself. Try not to use levers to reseat the tire, as you could accidentally puncture your new tube. When you get to the valve stem, tuck both sides of the tire bead low into the rim and push upward on the stem to get the tube inside the tire. Check to make sure that it isn't pinching against anything by gently pushing on different parts of your tire's surface as you work around it. Then inflate your tire to appropriate PSI and check that all parts of it are seated correctly.
Reinstall the Wheel
When you're ready, replace your wheel by lining up the quick release lever or the thru-axle lever with the drivetrain and carefully pushing it back into place. If you had a rear-wheel flat, you'll need to push the chain onto the smallest cog on your cassette. Close your quick release (and rim brakes if applicable) or insert the thru-axle back into the frame and hub and thread it closed. Finally, lift the rear wheel and spin your cranks once to make sure everything is back in place and operating smoothly. If all is good to go, get back on your bike and enjoy the rest of your ride.
Or Plug a Tubeless Tire
If you're riding tubeless, you don't need to worry about getting a flat tire. But in the event of a bigger puncture or side-wall tear, you may need a tire plug to stop air loss. Plug kits come with a small strip of rubber and an insertion device that allows you to plug the hole without even removing the wheel. Once you find the puncture and insert the rubber plug, re-inflate your tire to the appropriate pressure to see that it's holding air. If so, start riding again, and check the repair every so often to make sure it's holding fast. You could also add more sealant, but you'd need to carry a valve core removal tool and a small bottle of sealant with you when you ride.