Monday, 15 March 2010

16 steps to fixing a flat tyre on a Bicycle

Flat tires can be intimidating to new distance riders, or to anyone who thinks their mechanical skills are not good enough to fix them in the field without help. Actually, however, most bicycle flats are easy to fix on the spot with minor preparations beforehand. Here is how to turn an unexpected flat tire into a 15-minute repair job that can be done by anyone on any kind of bicycle ride.


No doubt, I am not the only bicyclist who has ridden over 10-miles on a flat tire more than once because I was not prepared to fix one myself during the ride. That unprepared state changed when I added a bike bag to my crossbar for carrying the tools and spare parts needed to repair flats on the spot.

Spare parts needed.

carrying bag (Velcro-strap-on Colorado or rear-trunk styles)
two extra tubes (new or tested okay; correct size)
patch kit, if preferred (roughing scraper, quick-drying cement, rubber patches, additional self-stick patches, valve-stem cores and caps, instructions for using the kit)
tire boot (a heavy patch for a covering a sizeable hole inside the tire itself)
spare tire (for a major blowout; folded)

To find an air leak in a flat tube by feel or by sight is not always easy. Often, a small leak can only be found by immersing the inflated tube in water. Yet, this kind of leak can easily be patched on-site if desired. At other times, the leak is so big that the tube cannot be inflated or easily patched. Thus, either way, having spare tubes on hand becomes the easiest and fastest way to fix a typical tube flat on the spot.

This condition is true for tubeless tire flats as well. Instead of looking for tiny holes in the tire that might be difficult to see, install a spare tube into it. By far, this way becomes the easiest and fastest way to fix a tubeless flat.

Tools needed.

small to medium-sized blade screwdriver
small pliers or adjustable wrench
two plastic tire levers
valve-stem tool (for traditional Schrader valve stems)
valve-stem converter (from the newer Presta to Schrader types, if needed for a non-adjustable pump head)
hand operated air pump (relatively small with a dual or adjustable head)
CO2 filling device with spare cartridge, if preferred to a pump
slime or sealant filling canister, if preferred

Flat-tire repairing procedure.

(Note: bicyclists who lack mechanical skills might want to practice this procedure at home before trying it in the field.)

Deflate the tire as much as possible (usually not necessary).
Release the rim brakes if applicable.
Turn the bike upside down and balance it on the handle bars, or lean it against a nearby object.
If the flat is a rear tire, remove the chain both from the crank and rear gears so it hangs loose.
Loosen the quick-connect lever or axle-bolt nut, which ever is present (a screwdriver or wrench helps here depending on their degree of tightness).
Remove the wheel and tire from its dropout sockets on the frame.
Pry the bead of one sidewall over the wheel rim with the levers and screwdriver. Be careful not to damage the tube further.
Remove the tube (Note: the valve stems can be tall. Thus, at the valve-stem location on the rim, push the loose sidewall toward the other side of the rim, then freely pull the tube's valve stem out of the hole. Also, if the flat tube is repairable, save it and patch it at home).
Carefully feel the inside of the tire for any sharp point that might have caused the flat. If found, remove it.
Install the spare tube within the tire. Insert the valve-stem into the rim hole first, i.e., push the loose sidewall toward the other side of the rim to insert the tube stem into the rim hole. Once the spare tube is placed inside the tire, look for pinches, twists, or uneven areas. Smooth them out before proceeding.
Manually, press most of the pried-out bead and sidewall back into the rim; use a lever for prying last few inches into place within the rim.
Add a tiny amount of air to hold tire and tube in place. Check to make sure the tire-beads are seated snugly inside the rims.
Replace the wheel into its dropout sockets. Too much air in the tire will make it difficult to push it between any non-releasing rim-type brake pads. If the flat is a rear tire, be sure the chain, derailleur and wheel gears are interlocking correctly.
While holding the tire in a side-to-side centered position (not touching the rim brake pads), tighten the quick-disconnect lever or axle-bolt nut.
Pump air into the tire to firmness (or fill with CO2, if preferred).
Replace the chain over the crank and rear gears and aligned their positions to each other.

After packing the spare parts and tools back into the carrying bag, and, while still having another spare tube on hand, enjoy the rest of the ride.

For more information on fixing bicycle tires during actual rides, see the sites below.

1. ehow - How To Do Just About Everything How to Fix a Flat Bicycle Tire

2. REI How to Fix a Flat Tire

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