How to Change a Back Tire on a Mountain Bike

How to Change a Back Tire on a Mountain BikeWhile the front tire of a mountain bike looks quite simple to pop off, removing the rear wheel can be a bit intimidating to someone who's never changed a back tire before. After all, the rear wheel holds all of the cogs, so pulling it off requires a bit more technique than the front tire does. However, once you've done it once or twice, changing the rear tire is really not much more difficult than changing the front tire. Dive in and get it done so you can get back on your bike.


Difficulty: Moderate

Taking the Wheel and Tire Off

Things You’ll Need:
  • Two tire levers
  • New tube
Step 1
Undo the rear brakes if they hinder your ability to pull the wheel off. V-brakes will need to be undone, but disc brakes won't. Pull the cable out from the brake so that the pads are opened, allowing enough room to pull the wheel through.
Step 2
Unlock the rear wheel by either opening the quick-release lever or loosening the nuts by turning counterclockwise with a wrench. Don't pull any hardware off, just loosen enough to get the wheel separated from the frame. Slide the cogs from the chain and remove the wheel from the bike.
Step 3
Insert your first tire lever between the rim and tire wall. Slowly lift the tire bead over the rim so that it rests on the top front of the rim. Leave the first tire lever in place to maintain separation of the rim and the bead. Hook it to a spoke to keep it steady.
Step 4
Insert the second tire lever about an inch or two from the first. Pull the tire bead up over the rim. Continue around the rim in this manner with the second tire lever until the bead is loose enough to just slide off.
Step 5
Take the tube out.
Step 6
Check the inside of the rim and tire. If you had a flat, it's possible that the cause of your flat is stuck inside the tire. Feel around both the inside of the tire and top of the rim to make sure there's nothing to cause a second flat such as a nail, a spoke sticking out or a rip in the tire itself.
Step 7
Pull the tire off. Generally, changing a "tire" refers to changing a tube because the tube is what actually holds the air. However, if you really are changing the tire itself, you'll need to pull the second bead off. Pry it up over the rim using your hands or the tire lever. Then, put the first bead of the new tire on and pry it over so that it is fully on the rim.

Putting the Tube and Tire Back

Step 1
Inflate the new tube. Just put enough air in to give the tube its circular shape.
Step 2
Begin at the valve and place the new tube into the tire. Put the valve through the hole in the rim and insert the tube into the tire. When the tube is fully inside, feel all the way around to make sure there are no bends or kinks. The tube should be in evenly.
Step 3
Begin to work the second bead of the tire back into the rim. Starting with your hands, place it back into the rim. Try to put the tire back in fully with your hands. If it becomes too tight, you can use the tire lever, but be very careful not to poke or pinch your new tube.
Step 4
Inflate the tire. Check the tire wall for recommended pressures.
Step 5
Stand your bike upside down on the handlebars and seat. Pull the chain slightly to the side, pull the derailleur arm up and slowly lower the wheel skewer back into the bike while ensuring that the cogs slip onto the chain. Seat the chain on the lowest gear or whatever gear you left off on.
Step 6
Make sure that the wheel is evenly placed onto the bike and the skewer is fully seated. Tighten and close the quick release or tighten the nuts.

Tips & Warnings

While inflating the tire, check to make sure that your tire beads are remaining firmly planted in the rim.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.