Flat tires are an inevitable part of cycling. Whether you’re an avid cyclist training for a bike marathon or if you simply like to cycle to and from work, you’re bound to encounter a flat tire at some point.
Luckily for you, it’s not hard to learn how to fix a flat bike tire! With practice and a certain number of tools, it’s easy for cyclists of all skill levels to master the art of repairing a flat bike tire.
Considering how common flat tires are in bicycles, you might as well learn how to fix them yourself.
Here is our guide on how to fix a flat bike tire!
Step 1: Release The Brakes
If your bike has rim brakes, you can release the brakes by pulling a lever located near the caliper. This should relieve enough tension for the wheels to move out from the brake’s grasp.
V-brakes simply need the arms to be squeezed for the tension to be released, therefore allowing enough room for the wheel to be removed. Sometimes, v-brakes will come with a quick-release lever, which does the job for you.
Step 2: Remove The Wheel
Firstly when looking at how to fix a flat bike tire, flip your bike over so the wheels are pointing to the ceiling.
If your bike has a quick-release axle, move the lever to the “open” position. This can be tough if the level is tight, wherein you can use a tire lever to wrench it open. Then, hold the lever still and unscrew the nut located on the other side.
If your bike has a bolt-on axle, simply unscrew the bolts with a wrench. For thru axles, open the lever as with a quick-release axle into the open position, before turning it anti-clockwise to unwind the axle.
Before anything, make sure to move the chain onto the smallest cog. If the rear wheel has rim brakes, open the brakes with the leaver near the caliper. Disc brakes won’t typically need to be released because this poses more risk to the wheels.
Speaking of disc brakes, keep these brakes clear from oil or other liquids and try not to touch the rotor, because this can burn you.
Most bicycles feature a quick-release system on the rear wheels, wherein you simply have to open the lever and spin it anti-clockwise to loosen. If it’s being stubborn, try unscrewing the nut on the other side.
Lift the chain away from the cog by pushing back the derailleur. Do this with one hand, and with the other you can remove the wheel.
Step 3: Deflate The Wheels And Remove The Tube
Deflate the wheels by opening the valve. If your wheels have a Presta valve, take off the plastic lid to expose the valve opening. Turn this valve anti-clockwise and press down until all the air from the wheel has gone.
If your wheels have a Schrader valve (the wider of the two valve types), use either your finger or a tool to press down on the tiny pin located in the middle of the valve.
Next, remove the inner tube by pushing the edge of the wheel away from the bike frame, and then work your way around the wheel continuing this.
If you use a lever to lift away part of the wheel, place the lever on the opposite side where the valve is to prevent damaging it. You might need to use more than one lever if you’re struggling.
Remove the inner tube by removing the valve stem, which can be done by loosening the stem nut and pulling the valve out. The inner tube should then easily come off.
Step 4: Inspect The Wheel
Find the root of the problem by looking for any tears, punctures, or cuts. You can do this by checking the inside of the tire with your fingers (pressing around for any small objects inside). Alternatively, inflate the wheel and submerge it in water to see where the bubbles release from.
If you find a small object embedded in the wheel, use a pair of tweezers to remove it.
Step 5: Repair Or Replace
If the damage looks too much for a simple DIY repair, you may have to replace the wheel. Cyclists will often do this on the road to save time before repairing the wheel later.
You can also try to repair the bike with a patch, but if it doesn’t work, then you’ll have to admit defeat. The same applies to the tube.
To repair a punctured tube, clean the area and dry it. You’ll need to give the surface texture by sanding it down, as this will provide a good surface for the glue to adhere to. Spread the vulcanizing fluid over the area and allow it to dry tacky. Then, stick the tube patch to the area with pressure.
Step 6: Install The Wheel
Inflate the tube enough for it to hold its shape, then put it back inside the rim of the wheel (if you removed the inner tube completely, of course).
Before the inner tube is completely inside the rim, insert the valve stem into the corresponding hole on the rim, ensuring the stem is straight and not angled. Push the rest of the tube inside the wheel.
Using both of your hands, work the tire bead into the rim. We recommend using a lever to make this easier, but try not to pinch or puncture the tube. Then, ensure that the tube, tire, and valve are all in place.
Slowly inflate the tire, still making sure that the valve is straight and everything is inflating evenly. Any uneven inflating is a sign that you haven’t put the wheel on properly. Pinch the tire all the way round with your forefinger and thumb to inspect this.
Step 7: Put The Wheel Back On
Lower the wheel into the right place by lining up the dropouts of the fork with the axle of the front wheel.
Tighten the nut while holding the quick-release lever, and when the nut is almost tight, close the lever. Move the lever so it’s not touching the frame. Reconnect the brakes the same way you removed them.
Lower the wheel into position, ensuring the top part of the chain droops over the smallest cog. As with the front wheel, line up the axle and dropouts, then lower the wheel into place. Hold the derailleur back as it will get in the way.
Keep hold of the quick-release lever as you tighten the nut. When the nut is almost tight, release the lever and move it away from the frame. Reconnect the brakes.
Finally, when looking at how to fix a flat bike tire, make sure the bike is working properly by testing the brakes and spinning the wheels.
So, there you have it! Fixing the tire on a bike takes practice, which is why we recommend regularly removing the tires so you know what to do in an emergency.
We hope our guide on how to fix a bike tire is helpful!