How to Change Bicycle Tires

How to Change Bicycle Tires
It's time to change your bike tires. Perhaps they're worn out or just not providing the performance you desire. Either way, changing tires will help you get more out of each bike ride. Pulling off the tire and installing a new one is a fairly simple process that involves minimal tools and technique. You should be on your way within 10 minutes or so per tire.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Two tire levers Appropriate tube
  • Two tire levers
  • Appropriate tube
Step 1
Using the right shifter. Shift to your highest rear cog (smallest size gear). We'll assume that you're changing the rear tire as this one is just a tad more difficult to work with. If you're changing the front tire, disregard this step.
Step 2
Pull the brakes apart. You should be able to pull out the left side of the brake cable, which will disengage the brakes and spread the pads. Otherwise, the rim will become lodged between the pads. If you have disc brakes, disregard this step.
Step 3
Remove the wheel. Many bikes today use quick-release axles. For these, pull the lever open, unscrew the nut opposite the lever to loosen and free the wheel from the bike's dropouts. For bikes that use nuts or other hardware, you'll need to use a proper wrench to get the wheel loosened and removed.
Step 4
Take out all the air in your tire by pushing the release on the valve. Presta valves are slightly trickier as they need to be unscrewed before the air will release. The tiny nut on top serves as the release.
Step 5
Point the tire lever downward and push it into the rim next to the tire's sidewall. Push down and then back to lift the tire bead. Push on the lever until the bead is overlaid onto the wheel. Leave this lever there so that it keeps that section of the tire out of the rim.
Step 6
Move three inches in either direction and repeat the motion that you used in Step 5 to pull another section of the bead over top the wheel. Continue this same process until the tire feels loose enough to remove without the lever--then you can simply pull the remainder of the bead over with just a hand.
Step 7
Remove the nut on the valve. Presta valves may have an outer nut that secures them against the rim. If so, you'll obviously need to unscrew and remove it to get the tube out of the rim. Schrader valves won't have this nut.
Step 8
Take the tube out and put it in a safe, accessible place--you'll likely need it in a minute or two. Remove the tire from the rim by pulling the second bead off. This can be done by hand or with the lever.
Step 9
Assess your new tire. Check the sidewall for arrows that indicate direction. Be sure to situate it onto the rim according to these arrows. If you're not sure which side of the rim is which, check for the cogset or quick release to orient yourself. If it came folded, you can squeeze it into shape a little.
Step 10
Place the first bead into the rim. If your old tube fits the new tire, use it; if not, use a new tube that is the right size. Put a little bit of air in the tube and then put it into the tire with the valve through the rim.
Step 11
Push the second bead back into the rim. The closer you get to the end, the tighter it will be. You may be able to pop that last section in by hand, or you may need the lever. Though some advise against using the lever at all, so long as you're careful not to pinch the tube, you can use it to leverage the last part of bead into the rim.
Step 12
Rotate the tire to make sure that the tube isn't pinched between the bead and rim and that both beads are secure in the rim. Pay particular attention to the area around the valve stem. While you're rotating, find the pressure on the sidewall so that you know what you'll be pumping to.
Step 13
Open the valve and attach the pump nozzle. Lock the nozzle in place. Pump the tire about half and recheck the seating of the bead to be sure that it's ship-shape. Finish your pumping, remove the pump and close the valve.
Step 14
Lift the chain of the bike so that you can work the cogs into it and reattach the rear wheel. Fully tighten down the nut and close your quick release--it should be tough to close and leave a mark on your hand. Seat the cable back onto your brakes so that they are functioning--double check that they work prior to riding.

Tips & Warnings

Fixing a flat "tire" on a bike usually involves replacing or repairing the inner tube, not the tire. You don't need to remove the full tire to do this, just one side.

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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