How to Fix a Flat Bike Tire

Fix a Flat Tire

Honesty hour. I’ve never fixed my own flat tire. It’s incredibly embarrassing, but I can’t resist letting the gentlemen at Back Alley Bike Repair take care of it for me. Though, before the year is over I’m determined to learn, and oddly, hoping for a flat sometime soon.

How do we learn to fix a flat bike tire, if not from our friends, peers or partners? There are quite a few organizations out there (like WE Bike NYC and REI) that host classes in your city or you can ask your bike mechanic to show you (though, we know that it might be intimidating).

For those of you who like to learn on your own, REI has an extensive tutorial online, Intown Bicycles has an easy-to-follow video tutorial. and I’ve pulled a straight forward tutorial from The Nest on how to fix a flat bike tire:

Tools You’ll Need
Air Pump, Tire Levers, Spare Tube, Shop Towel or Latex Gloves

Preparing to Change
Before you remove your tube or tire, you need to release the air from your tires by pressing on your valve stem until the majority of the air has gone out of your tire. If you have a flat, you can skip this step. You’ll then need to open your brakes so you can remove your wheels. With caliper brakes, lift the quick release lever on the caliper to open the brake. If you have V-brakes or cantilever brakes, press the brake arms together and lift out the brake cable.

Removing the Wheels
To remove your front wheel, loosen it at the axle by opening and turning the quick release. If your wheel doesn’t have quick-release levers, use a wrench to loosen the nuts on either side of the axle. Loosen them each a little at a time to avoid damaging the axle. You can then pull the wheel off. To remove your back wheel, loosen it at the axle as with the front wheel. Then, lift your rear derailleur as you pull the wheel out of the frame.

Changing the Tube
To change a tube, you only need to loosen one side of the tire from the rim. To do this, insert a tire lever between the edge of the tire and the rim making sure you hook the lever under the tire bead. Then, insert another tire lever near the first. As you turn the wheel, lift and push the second lever along the rim until the entire side of the tire is off the rim. You can now pull the tube out of the tire and take away the levers. If you’re changing your tube due to a flat, run your fingers inside the tire to feel for any sharp pieces that could puncture your new tube.

Put just enough air into your new tube to give it a shape, but not so much that the tube feels tight. Insert the valve stem into the hole in your rim and then work the tube into the tire. Using your fingers, work the tire back onto the rim making sure the tube isn’t getting pinched between the tire and the rim.

Changing the Tire
If you can change your tube, you’re halfway to knowing how to change your tire. Using the tire levers, remove one side of the tire from the rim. Take out the tube and then use your hands to pull the tire off the rim entirely. To put on a new tire, fit one side of the tire onto the rim. Then, insert the partially inflated tube making certain that all of the tube is held within the tire. Then, use your hands to work the other side of the new tire onto the rim.

Finish Up
Before you mount your wheel back on your bike, inflate the tire to the correct pressure to make sure everything is seated properly. Inflate slowly as you examine both sides of the tire to make sure the tube isn’t sticking out or getting pinched. Release the air and then mount the wheels back onto the bike frame. Reattach your brake cables or close the quick release on your brake calipers. You can then pump your tires up as normal and be on your way.

You can find other great articles about bicycling, specific to women on The Nest. Image from Zaarly.



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