A bicycle flat tire can be a real drag. Flats usually occur at the worst possible time on the road, often in the middle of nowhere. If you’re planning on cycling regularly, it’s important – not to mention empowering – to learn how to quickly fix a flat tire. Though it might sound difficult to fix a flat on a bike, once you figure out the basics it’s surprisingly easy. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to fixing a flat tire:
Remove the wheel
Begin by removing the wheel with the flat tire. It’s often easiest to flip your bike over so it’s resting on the handlebars and seat. (For a good Youtube tutorial on removing bike wheels, click here.)
- Disconnect your brake assembly. Some bikes use brakes that feature a quick-release lever; others use a specialized pull-cable. For the lever, simply open it, and for the pull-cable, all you need to do is release the main cable. If you happen to have a mountain bike with disc brakes, make sure to not touch the main rotor setup. All you need to do is flip the quick-release without touching anything else.
- After disconnecting the brakes and removing the wheel axle (there should be a simple bolt-on nut that needs to be removed), lift the wheel from the frame and set it aside.Flat
Identify the problem
In some cases, finding the cause of the flat might be easy—you might spot a nail or a piece of glass embedded in the rubber. You might even find a sizable hole.
- If you’re not quite sure where the leak is, run your hands along the outside tire, and keep a sharp eye out for small cracks or anything minor that might be stuck in the treads (like rocks, slivers of glass or pieces of plastic).
- Then, by either using a tire lever, or with your hands, remove the inner tire tube. If you don’t spot any obvious tears or holes, inflate the entire thing and listen for any leaks.
- Then, you can either patch the tube using sticky patches (many of these patches use a glue-and-patch combo method) – or you can simply replace the whole thing with a spare tube. It’s up to you.
Replace the tire
- When putting the tube back in, inflate it slightly, then make sure it fits in snugly and is centered in the wheel frame. Run your fingers around just inside the edge of the tire to make sure the tube won’t get caught and cause a pinch-flat.
- Fill the tube completely and place the wheel back onto the frame.
- Reattach the brakes and make sure that the axle is tight.
You’re all set! Remember, it’s always a good idea to carry a patch kit, tire lever, a spare tire tube and a tire pump as well in case of an emergency.