How to Repair Bicycle Flats

How to Repair Bicycle Flats
Nothing ruins a pleasant bike ride faster than a flat tire. Once you know how to fix a flat and have practiced the technique a few times, you'll be on your way in no time. The best time to learn how to fix a flat is before you have one. Become familiar with your bike before you ride long distances.

You can avoid flat tires by riding in the bike lane or traffic lane instead of in the gutter, where rocks, glass and debris accumulate. Thorn-proof tubes are a good choice for those who ride in areas where thorny plants are common.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Remove the Wheel

Things You’ll Need:
  • Wrench
  • Tire levers
  • Tire-patch kit
  • Bike pump
 
Step 1
Release the brake. Some bikes have quick-release brakes; on others, you'll need to unhook the transverse cable to disable the brake.
Step 2
Loosen the nuts on the wheel axle using a wrench. Some bikes have a quick-release axle. Refer to your user's guide to determine exactly how the quick-release mechanism works.
Step 3
Lift the front wheel off of the bike.
Step 4
Pull the derailer backward while holding up the bike to remove the back wheel.

Remove the Tire From the Rim

Step 1
Place a tire lever under the tire and pry the edge over the rim. Hook the tire lever to a spoke.
Step 2
Place two other levers under the tire on opposite sides and pry as you go.
Step 3
Repeat the process. The tire will loosen until it comes off of the rim.

Repair or Replace the Tube

Step 1
Inspect the tube to find the damage. Look for thorns, bits of glass, broken cords or cuts.
Step 2
Choose a patch that will cover the damage. If the damage is too extensive to be patched, use a new inner tube and proceed to Section 4.
Step 3
Buff the portion of the tube that needs repair using the sandpaper or metal sander from your patch kit.
Step 4
Apply a small amount of rubber cement over the damaged area and let it dry.
Step 5
Peel the backing from the patch and apply it firmly.

Finish Up

Step 1
Inflate the inner tube slightly. Put just enough air in it to give it a little shape and keep it from being too floppy.
Step 2
Pull the valve of the inner tube through the valve hole. Place the inner tube inside the tire.
Step 3
Install the tire back onto the rim. You may need to use tire levers for this operation. Pump the tire up to capacity.
Step 4
Install the wheel back onto the bike. Tighten the nuts on the axle or make sure that the quick-release mechanism is completely closed and locked.
Step 5
Reinstall the brakes and make sure that they're properly secured.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Carry a small hand pump and repair kit with you when you ride.
 
Address a flat or deflating tire immediately to avoid damaging the rim.

Article Written By Cate Rushton

Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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