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How To Repair A Bicycle Tire

By Laurel-Lea Shannon

If you cycle a lot chances are eventually you’re going to get a flat tire. What do you do when that happens? Well that depends. Do you carry a spare inner tube, or have a tire repair kit? Do you have tire levers in your saddle bag? Are you packing a tiny travel pump or C02 cartridges? Have you had, at the very least, a cursory look at instructions for repairing a tire? If you answer yes to all of the above you’re in good shape. If not, you better be carrying a cell phone or you could be in for a long walk home.


Step One: Remove the wheel

  • If the flat is on the front wheel you’ve got to release the break cable.
  • Open the brake as wide as possible to make it easier to get the wheel off.
  • Release the quick release lever and unwind the lever a few turns.
  • Remove the tire. Proceed to step two.

Removing a back wheel is trickier

  • First you’ve got to shift into the smallest cog on the rear wheel.
  • To do this lift the back wheel off the ground and turn the pedals while you shift the gears.
  • Open the brake as wide as possible to make it easier to get the wheel off.
  • Next, pull the derailleur out of the way and pull the wheel out.
  • Make sure the chain is off the rear cogs.

Proceed to step two.

Step Two: Remove the tire

  • If your tire isn’t already completely deflated, deflate the inner-tube now.
  • Use your thumbs to push the tire away from the rim and insert the tire levers.
  • Make sure to just pop one side of the tire off the rim to expose the inner tube.

Proceed to step three.

Step Three: Replace or patch the tube
At last, you get to use your tiny travel pump. Or, experiment with those Co2 cartridges that have been rattling around in your saddle bag for the last couple of years.

To replace the tube:

  • Fetch the pump or Co2 cartridges.
  • Take the new inner tube and put a small amount of air in it.

Proceed to step four

To patch the tube:

  • Fetch the pump or Co2 cartridges and pump air into the inner-tube — about medium full.
  • Next press the inner tube while you pass it slowly in front of your face. You should be able to either hear or feel the air escaping from the leak.
  • Once you’ve identified the leak, deflate the inner tube again. Clean the area of the tube that needs to be patched.
  • Get out your patch, peel off the foil and apply. Let dry for a few minutes.

Proceed to step four

Step Four: Reinstall

  • Check the inside of the tire for debris.
  • Blow up the inner tube a little so you can work with it.
  • Put the valve stem into the valve hole on the rim.
  • Place the inner tube on the inside of the tire. slowly working your way around.
  • You will need tire levers when you get to the end. Only touch the lever to rim and tire, not the inner tube. (Note: Get plastic tire levers that are not sharp anywhere–about $4.99).
  • Go around the entire rim to make sure the inner tube is completely inside the tire. Make sure you can see the rim ribbon (usually a bright colour). This is a strip that goes around middle of the inside of the rim.
  • Use your tiny, travel pump or Co2 cartridges to fully inflate the tire. NB: Caution! If any part of the inner tube is not inside the tire and you inflate it, you will hear a loud bang. That’s your inner tube bursting from the pressure on that part of it that is outside the tire.
  • Now reinstall the wheel. On my bike I needed to install the wheel and then fully pump up the tire.

And presto, you’re back on the road! Print out these instructions, put them in a ziploc bag and in your bike bag now!

This video shows you how to change a flat tire on the road

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