Sooner or later, you are going to get a flat tire
. And while the prospect of changing a flat can be daunting to those who have never done it, it is fairly easy with a little practice. Here's what you will need to change your own tube:1. Pump:
a. A good floor pump is a godsend for changing flats at home. It attaches easily to the tube's valve and inflates the tire quickly. It also has a pressure gauge so you can accurately inflate the tire to the recommended pressure (which you can find on the side of the tire.)
b. A small hand pump is essential for roadside or trail side repairs. These require more effort to inflate the tire, but work well enough to get you home without issue. Just make sure the pump is set up for your particular valve type. Most have valve interfaces that can change to presta or Schrader. Most do not have pressure gauges, so you should learn to feel with your hands what a properly inflated tire feels like before using the hand pump.
c. Those who have changed a few flats can also opt for a CO2 cartridge system. It inflates extremely fast, but requires some practice to use.
2. Spare tube:
a. Make sure you have the right tube for your tire type. Tubes come in many sizes and configurations. A tube that is too wide or narrow can be difficult to install. A tube with the wrong valve type can be impossible to install. Your bike shop can help you make the right choice. Do not store your tubes with sharp objects like tools which can puncture the tube before you ever use it.3. Tire levers:
a. While many tires can be removed by hand, tire levers make the job easier. For stubborn tires, levers are essential. Get several as they are inexpensive, easy to misplace and you are likely to break one eventually.
Before every ride, check that your tires are properly inflated. The tires on your bike have a pressure range printed on the side of the tire. Within that range, your ideal pressure can vary depending on your weight, the type of terrain and riding style. Your local shop should be able to help you decide. Keep in mind that inner tubes are slightly porous, meaning they can lose some air over time—if you haven't ridden in two weeks and the tire is low, you may just need to re-inflate.
Changing your tube is the same process, whether you are in the garage before the ride or on the side of the road. Here are the steps:
1. Remove wheel
a. Loosen the brake on the wheel to be removed. Have your bike shop show you how to do this. (Make sure to reinstall correctly to avoid potentially dangerous situations down the road!!!)
b. Your bike likely comes with quick release levers that attach the wheel to the bicycle frame or fork. Flip the lever to the open position (curved side of the lever facing out.) While holding the opposite end of the skewer (the nut on the other side of the wheel) turn the lever counter-clockwise a couple of turns to loosen it.
c. The wheel should drop out of the frame or fork at this point. On the rear wheel, you may need to pull the chain out of the way to ease removal.2. Inspect the outside of the tire for thorns, glass or other damage.
a. Carefully remove any offending bits, otherwise they will just re-puncture the tire when you reinstall.
b. Inspect the tire's sidewall for any holes, also.3. Remove one side of the tire and remove the tube
a. Starting near the valve stem, work the tire over the rim bead either by hand or with a tire lever. Continue working the entire side of the tire off.
b. Remove the tube entirely. Visually inspect for signs of damage.
4. Inspect tire and rim for offender
a. Carefully run your hand along the inside of the tire to feel for sharp objects and remove them. Your tire lever can be used to push the thorn or glass from the inside of the tire out if you cannot remove it otherwise by hand.
b. If you do not find a thorn or glass, inspect the rim bed of the wheel. Sometimes the rim strip moves out of place, exposing the spoke holes to the tube. If this is the case, work the rim strip back over the spoke holes. If you cannot do this, duct tape works in a pinch. (Also, always carry a little bit of duct tape.)
5. Partially inflate tube and reinstall tire
a. Now you are ready to put in the new tube. Inflate the new tube a slight amount, just enough that it begins to take some shape. Too much and the tire will be difficult to install.
b. Again starting at the valve stem, work the tire back into the rim channel until it is all the way back on, taking care not to pinch the tube. Make sure the tire is all the way on and the tube is not protruding, or it could lead to a blowout.6. Reinflate tire to proper pressure and inspect
a. If you have a floor pump, you can do this quickly and accurately. If you have a hand pump it will take a little more time, but you can still get the proper tire pressure.
b. Inspect the tire one more time to make sure it is on the rim securely.7. Reinstall wheel
a. Doing the reverse of step 1, reinstall the wheel.
b. Make sure the wheel is in the dropouts properly and is straight.
c. Retighten the quick release nut.
d. Close the quick release lever: the quick release lever should begin engaging when it is perpendicular (90 degrees) to the wheel. Tighten the lever rest of the way.
e. Make sure to tighten the brakes!8. Ride On.