Upside down bicycle with flat tire being held by Pam

Published on July 10th, 2014 | by Matt Emerson

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How to Change a Flat Bike Tire in 12 Easy Steps (With Pictures!)

  1. Realize your tire is flat and stop your bicycle. Look for a safe place off the side of the road to change the tire. You don’t want to be doing this on a blind curve.
  2. Take off all your panniers and water bottles, otherwise your bicycle will be too heavy to flip and/or you will have things falling off your bicycle.
  3. Turn your bicycle upside down, and remove the wheel from the bicycle.Removing the wheel from the bike by unscrewing the quick release skewersClose up of the fork, make sure you unscrew the skewers enough to clear the fork.Removing the wheel from the bicycle.
  4. Visually inspect the tire. You may find the culprit. If you do find something, don’t assume that’s the only one. There could be more than one hole in the tube.Close up picture of the tread on a tire
  5. Release any air left in the tube.
  6. Using tire levers, lift up one side of the tire to remove it from the rim, all the way around.Prying the tire over the rim by inserting a tire lever.Prying the tire over the rim by inserting a tire lever, then use the hook end to attach to spoke, freeing up your hands for a second tire lever.
  7. If present, unscrew the nut on the valve so it can be removed from the wheel.Pam unscrewing the lock nut from the presta valve, some valves may not have this.
    • If you have not located a leak: Keeping the tube inside the tire, inflate using pump.Bicycle wheel on the ground with one side of the tire reomove from the wheel Holding your ear close to the tube, while still inside the tire, you may be able to locate the leak which may be either heard as a hiss, or felt as the air escapes.Pam listening for a hard to find leak.
  8. With the leak located, patch the tube. Follow the directions on your patch kit. We prefer the patches that are peel and stick, they work just as well as glue and are easier to apply and get pedaling.
  9. Decide if you are going to replace the tube or reuse the just patched one. Put one side of the tire back onto the wheel, and lay the tube inside. Make sure the tube is not twisted. I like to inflate it just slightly here.Pam replacing the tube with a new tube.
  10. Using tire levers, or your hands, reseat the tire onto the wheel. Using a tire level to seat the tire back on the rim.Using a tire level to seat the tire back on the rim.Make sure the tube is not pinched between the tire and the wheel, and that the bead of the tire is seated properly in the hook of the rim.Straight on view of a tire, notice the hook (the bump on the inner edge of the tire which will engage with the rim to keep the tire on the wheel)
  11. Re-inflate the tube halfway watching for any signs of the wheel slipping off the wheel. While inflating watch carefully for the tire bulging or not seating. In this picture the hook of the tire did not catch the rim and if you keep inflating the tube will like burst.Make sure the tire is seated on the wheel all the way around. Bounce the tire on the ground a few times to settle the tire on the seat and the tube inside the tire.Inflating a tire with a stand up bicycle pump.
  12. Inflate the rest of the way and replace the wheel on the bike. Turn the bicycle upright, replace all panniers and water bottles, make sure your light is on, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

On a related note, what if the flat tire is caused by damage to the tire itself? For example, the tire has been damaged and is now rubbing the tube, causing constant flats. One great remedy is using a dollar bill. Place the bill inside the tire, next to the tube. This creates a barrier and protects the tube until a more permanent solution can be found. Another thing that could help is rotating the tires. If the damaged tire is the rear, which is carrying most of the weight, you may want to rotate the tire to the front where it will be subject to less stress than the rear. That might save you from having to change it a few times, at least.

Do you have any tips or tricks you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!

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About the Author

Matt has ridden over 5,000 miles bicycle touring around the United States, and countless of miles training and riding around town. When not riding he enjoys computers and working around house. Getting the most out of his time alive is one his major priorities.



One Response to How to Change a Flat Bike Tire in 12 Easy Steps (With Pictures!)

  1. One thing that made it a lot easier for me to detect a leak is by removing the tube, and rotating it under a shallow tub of water. The bubbles will show exactly where it’s coming from 🙂 Granted, it’s difficult getting the tire back on, but I’m getting better at it each time.

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