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Biking: How to Repair a Flat Tire

By Nathaniel Wu

 

If you bike often, you’ve likely had a flat tire at some point or are bound to have one in the future. Although flat tires are disappointing, knowing how and being prepared to repair a flat can be the difference between biking and walking home. Today, we are going to go over the basics of repairing a flat tire. You will need an inflation device, tire levers, and a spare tube.



How to Repair/Replace a Flat Tire

  1. Remove the wheel from the bike - If you have rim brakes, you will need to disengage the brakes by squeezing the tops together to release tension or by flipping the quick release. Once the brakes are out of the way, loosen the axle from the bike.

  2. Inspect the tire for any damages - Use tire levers to remove the tire from the wheel. Be careful about any thorns or sharp objects on the tire and remove them if found. If the hole is too big, replacing the tube is not going to work. By removing the source of the leak, you can reduce the chance of getting another flat.

  3. Patch or replace the tube - Remove the old valve cap and tube, then inflate the new tube slightly. Place the new tube inside the tire and fit the valve through the hole in the rim. The setup should look like a loosely fit wheel. Once everything is set, stuff the bead (edge) of the tire into the rim and make sure not to pinch the tube. Fully inflate the tire to the specific PSI range.

  4. Reinstall the wheel - Drop the wheel into the dropouts on the frame and tighten the axle. Re-engage the brakes if necessary.

  5. Ride on! - Celebrate your new achievement by riding!


Although it is simple to replace a flat tire and tube, the best way is to avoid the situation altogether. Tubeless tires are becoming more common in mountain bikes, where a special sealant can automatically repair small holes in the tire. However, not everyone wants to buy new items. You can also avoid flats by running higher air pressure and avoiding bumpy and rough sections when riding. As always, happy riding!


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