How to Patch a Bicycle Tube

How to Patch a Bicycle Tube
Patching a bike tube is the most important step toward fixing a flat tire. When done correctly, you'll be able to inflate your tube and ride back home. On the other hand, if you do it incorrectly, you'll be walking the entire way back because the patch won't stick and the tube won't hold air.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Sandpaper
  • Patch
  • Glue
  • Pump
 
Step 1
Locate the source of the leak. Before you can patch the hole, you need to find it. Sometimes this is easy, and sometimes it's not. Inflate the tube fully and inspect it for the leak. Look, feel and listen to find the leak. If it's giving you trouble, find or make a pool of water and rotate the inflated tube through it until you see the bubbling. Promptly remove the tube from water and mark the hole so that you don't lose it again.
Step 2
Deflate the tube by pressing in the release on the valve. Rinse and dry off the area around the hole. Then use sandpaper to scuff it up.
Step 3
Put a thin coat of glue on the area around the hole--enough to coat the bottom of your patch. Now let it dry for a minute or two. Don't put the patch on yet. The glue will be thick and sticky when it's ready for the patch.
Step 4
Remove the foil from the back of the patch, place it onto the glue and press it down. The side with the black center and orange perimeter should be facing up and should still have the clear film on it. Hold it down for a minute or so and let the glue set. Then, peel the plastic film off the top; the patch should remain on the tube without pulling up.
Step 5
Pump the tire enough to give it shape. Check that the patch is flush on the tube and is holding firmly. Also make sure that the tube holds air and that there aren't any other holes in it.
Step 6
Check the inside of your tire and rim for any remnants that caused the flat tire. Remove any problem items and reinstall the tube into the tire, tire into the rim and the wheel onto the bike.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Consider replacing the patched tube before your next ride or you might experience another flat. Self-adhesive patches are available that eliminate the glue in the patching equation. These don't provide the same integrity, however. Carry a spare tube to make the process quicker. A spare tube will also work when the tube is irreparable, as is the case with large holes or multiple punctures.
 
Consider replacing the patched tube before your next ride or you might experience another flat.
 
Self-adhesive patches are available that eliminate the glue in the patching equation. These don't provide the same integrity, however.
 
Carry a spare tube to make the process quicker. A spare tube will also work when the tube is irreparable, as is the case with large holes or multiple punctures.

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.

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