If you ride long enough you will eventually have a flat tire. Hopefully the flat tire will be in your garage or the stairwell of your apartment. More than likely it will be either on the road, or in the middle of a race or expedition.
Luckily, bike maintenance is fairly simple and it is quite easy to change a flat. Traditional bike tires consist of the rubber on the outside of the tire. This rubber is what makes contact with the road. Inside of that is an inner tube that actually holds the air. This design allows you to simply change the inner portion of the tire without having to replace the outer portion. The outer portion can still function when it is damaged as long as the damage is not extensive and as long as the inner portion is intact.
The first step in changing a flat is being prepared. This is essential whether you travel on mountainous paths or gently rolling roads. The kits for fixing flat tires are fairly small and can easily be attached to your bike or carried in a pack. Several companies sell containers of materials that “fix a flat” without requiring much work. The problem with this is that you will end up having to replace the tire later anyway. Also, depending on your journey it may not last the entire ride. It is meant to be a temporary fix rather than a permanent fix. On the other hand, changing or patching the tube is a long-term fix that is quite simple.
The basic flat kit includes:
- Pry Tool
- CO2 cartridge or pump for re-inflation
- Inner tube or patches and glue
It is essential that replacement inner tubes are the proper size for your bike. The required tire size should be listed on the outside of your tire.
If you have a kit that includes patches and glue, be sure to carry some sort of wipe that will allow you to clean the punctured area. Check your patch kit so that you are familiar with it and also so that you know whether or not you will need scissors to accurately size the patches.
The first thing to do is take the tire off of the bike. Most mountain and road bikes have levers or screws on the tires for easy removal. Once this is done, check the tire for the object that caused the puncture. If you can see it, go ahead and remove it.
Next locate your pry tool. This should look like a shoe horn, except smaller. In a pinch, a screwdriver can work, but a plastic pry tool is best because it reduces the chances of damaging the wheel or the tire. Once you have it off you should see the inner tube. This is what needs to be patched or replaced. If you are patching the inner tube, clean the area to be glued. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It only has to last for the rest of your ride. If you are patching, cut the patch to the appropriate size. Apply glue to the area to be patched, then apply the patch and wait the appropriate amount of time for the glue to dry.
Once the glue is dry or once you have prepared your new inner tube for installation it will only be a matter of putting the tire back together. Place the inner tube around the rim of the tire, then place the outer rubber over it. Be sure that you line the air stem up properly, or you will become frustrated and possibly have to take everything apart again. You will probably need your pry tool in order to put the outer tire back onto the rim. Be sure that your inner tube is not sticking out. After this you must simply refill the tire and get back on the road or trail.
Replacing a flat is fairly easy, but it does take some practice. Elite racers are quite good at changing flats and can often change them in just a few minutes. The rest of us usually take several minutes to do this. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the flat kid and with the anatomy of your tire before taking long trips. Flat tires happen to everyone. It’s to be expected. But you don’t have to be caught unprepared when it happens to you.
If you prefer to get your information in video format this is a great easy to follow video from http://www.performancebike.com