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Fix a Flat Bike Tire

Changing a bike tire is a vital skill for any cyclist — and it’s easier than you might think. Practicing this method at home can help put your mind at ease before your next outing.

What you’ll need: A basic repair kit with a pump, tire levers, and extra tubes.

Start by removing the wheel: Disconnect your brakes with the brake release or squeeze the brake arms together and pull the cable from the slot. Swing the wheel’s quick-release lever out and loosen the nut from the other side. To remove the rear wheel, shift up and turn the pedals until your chain is on the smallest cog, turn the bike over, and open the quick-release.

Now you’re ready to repair the flat.

  1. Remove the valve cap and open the valve, pressing on it to release any remaining air in the tire. Some valve stems have a retaining nut holding them in place on the wheel rim; unscrew this and set aside.
  2. Slide a tire lever between the tire’s edge and the rim, gently prying the tire over the rim. Hook the other end of the lever onto the nearest spoke.
  3. Insert a second lever a few spokes away from the first, and slide it all the way around the rim until one side of the tire completely separates from the rim.
  4. Extract the damaged tube. You can take it home to patch later as a recycled spare.
  5. Carefully run your finger along the inside of the tire to locate and remove anything that may have punctured it. Thorns, glass, and nails are common culprits.
  6. Partially inflate a new tube, and then put the tube valve into the hole on the rim. Tuck the tube into the tire and roll the tire back onto the rim; you can use a lever for help. Be careful not to pinch the tube!
  7. Use your hand pump or a CO2 pump to inflate the tire to the desired pressure (listed on the tire sidewall). Replace the valve cap, reattach the wheel, close the quick-release lever, connect the brakes, and you’re ready to ride!
Illustrations by: Colin Hayes

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