Flats are never fun and happen when you least expect it. But being prepared for when the flat does happen can help get you back on your ride in no time.
How to Fix a Flat Tire
Flats happen: it's a fact of life when you're riding your bike*. If you feel and hear that dread pop, don’t panic. Even if you’re on the go and already running late, we’ve got you covered. Read our guide to fixing flat bike and you'll be getting back on your merry way in no time.
What You'll Need
- Spare bike tube
- Patch kit
- Tire Levers
- Hand pump and/or CO2 with a valve
- Money... just in case!
So you have a flat bike tire...
Step by step guide to changing your bicycle tire:
- Remove the wheel from the bike. Remember, each bike can be different. We recommend practicing how to take your wheel off before you have a flat, so you are prepared. Front wheels are typically a quicker fix as are bikes equipped with rim brakes.
- Be sure all the air is out of the tire by pressing the tube valve. Making sure all the air out will make taking the bike's tire off easier.
- Using your hands, pull the tire bead away from the rim of the wheel.
- Then take one of your tire levers. Using the spoon side end of the tire lever, pull the tire bead up and away from the wheel's rim. Use the hook at the end of the lever and hook it to the spoke of the wheel.
- Take the second tire lever and using the spoon end, push the level away from you, pull the tire off the rim, removing the tire.
- This will make it so you can easily access the inner tube. Pull the tube out of the tire.
- Carefully check the rim and inside of the tire for sharp objects. You can also move the tire to make sure there are no foreign objects inside.
- Put a knot in the used inner tube to ensure you don't mistakenly insert right back in the tire. This can easily happen, especially if you are a little flustered from your flat tire predicament.
- Take the new tube out of your saddle bag and inflate it a little to make it easier to put into the tire. Give the tube a squeeze to make sure it holds air. You don't want to go to all the trouble of changing a flat to find out your new tube has a hole in it.
- Replace the tube: with one side of the tire on the rim, insert the valve of the new inner tube into the hole for the valve in the wheel. Carefully start placing the tube inside the tire.
- Once you have the tube entirely inside the tire, use your hands to begin squeezing the tire back onto the rim.
- At the end you can sometimes use your hands to get the tire back on the wheel. If that isn't working, grab your tire levers again and use the spoon end of the tire lever to put the tire back on the wheel. Take care to not puncture the tube and avoid pinching the tube between the tire and rim.
- Using a pump or CO2 device, put air back in the tube. Pay close attention to the tire pressure to not over or under inflate.
- Put the wheel back on the bike.
- Give yourself a pat on the back, hop back in the saddle and be on your merry way.
More Flat Tire Tips
- Pack your seatbag ahead of time and make certain you grab the right type of valve spare tube for the bike you'll be riding. Schrader and presta tubes can look very similar when you're in a hurry.
- Take your time. We're all excited to get back on our ride, but hurrying through the process can result in under or over-inflated tires, pinched tubes and may end up as a second flat.
- Tire pressure ranges are typically printed or molded into your tires sidewall.
- CO2 can make quick work of getting your tires pumped up quickly.
- Consider an all-in-one dedicated tire repair kit to carry in your hydration pack, bag or jersey pockets and replace any missing parts after your ridh while the flat tire is still fresh in your mind.
- Spend a little bit extra money on a bike pump with a pressure gauge on it. Mountain bike tires range from 22 to 35 psi, road bikes 90 to 120 psi, a difference that can be tough to feel.
- *Consider going tubeless! More and more bikes are coming tubeless ready these days.