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How to Change a Bike Tire
How to Change a Bike Tire

How to Change a Bike Tire

How do you change a bike tire or tube? The first time you change a bike tire can be really challenging. Once you have done it a few times, it becomes pretty easy. So whether at home or on the road, repairing a flat should be a quick and easy. You should have everything you need in your Saddle Bag.

Tool List

  • New Tube
  • CO2 Cartridge (for the road)
  • CO2 Dispenser and cover (for the road)
  • Pump (for home)
  • Tire Levers

Step 1: Turn Your Bike Over

Getting your bike flipped over and resting on your saddle and handlebars lets you work easily with your wheels and tires without damaging your bike or fighting it from falling. (If you have water bottles, a camel bag or other loose items attached to your bike, you will want to remove them before flipping.)

Changing a Bike Tire
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Stable bike position for repairs at home and on the road.

Step 2: Remove Your Wheel

Once your bike is upside down and stable you can begin to remove the wheel with the flat tire (or puncture as they say in places outside the U.S.A.). If you have pad brakes, be sure to loosen them before you attempt to take off your wheel. (This will make sliding your tire in and out much easier and you will be less likely to cause damage.) 

Front Tire:

If you are replacing your front tire or tube, it is much simpler. Just loosen your skewer and lift out the tire. 

Back Tire:

For the back tire, you have to remember your chain and cogs. After loosening your skewer, lift out your wheel. While lifting your wheel, use your opposite hand to push or pull back on your rear derailleur to loosen and release your chain from your rear cogs.

Step 3: Pry Your Tire From the Rim

Once your wheel is off your bike, it is time to get to that flat tube. Start by using the rounded end of one of your tire-levers to pry the tire up and over the rim. Then clip the hook end of your tire-lever onto one of your spokes. This will help to hold the tire in place over the rim. Now take the rounded end of the second tire-lever and slide it under the edge of the tire that you have pried loose from the rim (next to the first lever). This is the hard part. Use all your muscles and push (or pull) the second tire-lever away from the first (I prefer pulling the second lever toward myself as pictured below). After you have a few inches of tire over the rim, the rest will come off easily as you continue to slide the tire-lever along the edge. 

Step 4: Remove Your Old Tube

Now that your tire is off the rim, the hard part is behind you. Take out your old tube. Be sure to remove the valve cap and nut before pulling the valve out. Once your valve is out, the rest of the tube should easily slide out of the tire. 

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Remove your tube. Start with the valve.

Step 5: Check the Inside of Your Tire

Before you start putting a new tube back in your tire, fully examine the inside of your tire for whatever punctured your tube. Carefully and slowly run your hand along the inside of the tire and rim. You are looking for chards of glass, staples, nails, rocks, screws, etc. 

Recently, I had many flats in my back tire and couldn’t figure out why. After the 3rd flat, I took my tire all the way off and folded it inside out. Despite thoroughly running my hand over both sides of the tires multiple times, I didn’t find the ¼ inch piece of staple until my third pass over the tire. As I slid my hand back and forth, it was flush with the rubber. Sometimes, you have to look closer than you think. Other times the cause of the puncture will be obvious.

Check for Debris when changing a Bike Tire
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Always check your tire and rim for debris that caused the flat.

Step 6: Put Your New Tube Inside Your Tire

Now that you have a clean and clear tire, it is time to start putting your wheel back together. Start by inserting the valve stem of your new tube into the valve stem hole and locking it in place with the valve nut. Then working both directions at the same time, glide you tube into the tire (don’t worry about it being flush with the rim for now). Be sure to not twist or pinch the tube, otherwise you will be changing a flat again in a few minutes after you begin re-inflating your tube.

Step 7: Lever Your Tire Back on the Rim

Now that your tube is in place, it is time for the second hardest part of replacing a tire, returning the tire to the rim. Starting at the valve stem, secure the tire in place on the rim (be sure the tube stays in place). Working in both directions away from the valve stem, squeeze the tire back into place.

When you are down to a few inches, opposite from your valve stem, the tire will start to fight you. Using the rounded end of your tire-lever you are going to do the opposite of what you did to take the tire off. Flipping your tire-lever over, you are going to wedge your tire back onto the rim. Use one lever to hold one side in place while you use the other tire-lever to lever the tire over the edge of the rim. Do this by hooking the rounded end on the inside edge of the rim and levering tire over the edge. (You will not break your tire-lever. Be strong.) 

Step 8: Re-inflate Your Tube

Now that your tire is back on your rim and the new tube is securely inside, it is time to re-inflate your tube. As you re-inflate your tube, you will hear popping sounds as the tire locks into the edge of the rim. When you are about half way through inflation, check the tire for bulges. If you see a bulge, the tube is not securely in the tire or it may be twisted. In that case, deflate and recheck steps 6 and 7. 

If the tire looks great, continue inflating to your preferred PSI. (I keep my tubes between 90-95 PSI.) Once your tire is inflated properly, check that your valve nut is securing the tube to the rim and the valve cap is on tight.

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Step 9: Put Your Wheel Back on Your Bike

Your newly inflated tire looks great, it is time to put your wheel back on your bike. 

Front Wheel:

If you are replacing your front tire, simply place it back in the forks and retighten your skewer. Lock your brakes back in place. Be sure to give the tire a spin.

Once, I tightened my skewer incorrectly and struggled with the wheel rotating for 10 miles. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and had to take the wheel off to fix it.

Back Wheel:

If you are replacing your back tire, you are going to repeat step 2 in reverse. Pushing (or pulling) your rear derailleur back, set your chain on your back rear cogs as you set your wheel in place. Tighten your skewer in place and re-lock your brakes. Then use your pedals to give your wheel a few spins. This will position your chain in the right place and check the rotation of your wheel. If it all looks good, you are done.

Done Changing a bike Tire
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Step 10: Have a Great Ride

Flip your saddle up. Put all loose items back on your bike and hit the road. 

Thanks for reading and follow for more tips and adventures. – KiteBikeVan

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