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How to Fix a Flat Bike Tire

Eight, easy, do-it-yourself instructions that'll get your bike rolling in no time.

Bicycle chainTina Rupp

Supplies:

  • Bicycle pump
  • Bucket of water
  • Cloth
  • Patch kit
  • Spare tube
  • Tire levers


1. First release the brake of the flat tire (the mechanism is found right above the wheel), then remove the wheel from the bicycle. Using two tire levers, insert them between the metal rim and the rubber tire bead (the curved edge that hugs the metal rim) on either side. Push both tire levers away from the wheel and remove one side of the tire bead. You need to remove only one side to change the tube.

2. Remove the valve cap (where you pump air into the tire), then pull the tube from inside the tire.

3. Carefully inspect both the tire and the tube for the cause of the flat by running a cloth inside the tire. Any sharp objects will snag the fabric. Remove the debris. Visually check the tire tread for other culprits or large cuts. Also make sure that no spokes or rough edges are rubbing along the inside of the metal rim.

4. Pump up the old tube until it just has some shape, then check for a leak. Dip the inflated tube into a bucket of water. If bubbles form, you’ll know the location of the hole.

5. Either repair the old tube using a bike patch kit or replace it with a new tube.

6. Take your patched or new tube and add a few pumps of air before inserting it back into the tire. First install the valve in the valve opening, then work the rest of the tube into the tire all the way around. Pull the rubber bead of the tire back toward the metal rim. The tire bead should drop down into the metal rim. The bead will become trickier toward the end. You can push the bead with your thumbs to make it fit.

7. Once the tire is attached to the wheel, it’s ready to be completely inflated. Look at the sidewall to find the recommended pressure. When inflating, make sure the tire is even and has no bulges or low spots.

8. Put the wheel back into place on the bike. Connect the brakes.

(Courtesy of River City Bicycles, rivercitybicycles.com, Portland, Oregon)

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