Flat Repair – Clincher Tire

Everyone will have a flat tire at one time or another, so as a cyclist it is your duty to be prepared for when it occurs. Removing and repairing a punctured tube is much easier than you think, and after a little instruction and some practice you will be able to do it with no problem.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Get to a safe place on the road or trailside that will provide you enough room to work.
  • Open or release the brake system to provide sufficient room to remove the deflated wheel.
  • Open the quick release and remove the deflated wheel from the frame or fork. Sometimes this is easier with the bike upside down resting on the handlebars and seat or lying on its side.
  • Begin to remove the tire by loosening the bead from the hook of the rim. This is where the tire levers will come in handy. Place the spoon end of the lever under the bead of the tire and lift it over the lip of the rim and out of the hook. Repeat this in a second or third spot as necessary to un-seat the bead completely.
  • Next, slide the tire lever all the way around the inside of the bead and loosen the tire completely from the rim surface, exposing the inner tube.
  • Now, remove the punctured tube from the inside of the tire and watch for the valve stem and its relation to the tire. Often times you can trace the puncture to a corresponding hole or tear on the tire.
  • Once you have located the hole in the tube check to see if your tire is damaged as well. If the hole or tear in the tire is large enough you will need to patch or boot the damaged area. Slide your hand around the inside of the tire and check for any debris that may be stuck in the tire; such as thorns, staples, nails, or glass. Here’s where a dollar bill (a $20 seems to hold better) or power bar wrappers come in handy.
  • To patch or boot your tire, you will need to insert a liner (power bar wrapper, dollar bill, or tire boot works fine) in between the tube and the inside of the tire, forming a barrier to keep the tube from ballooning out of the hole and popping. This step is not always necessary as it depends on the size and type of puncture.
  • Now, remove your replacement tube from your emergency kit and inflate it slightly by mouth. This will make it much easier to install in the next step.
  • Install the valve stem in the rim by pulling the tire halfway back and exposing the valve hole.
  • Fold the tire back over the valve stem and tube, and seat the tube inside the tire.
  • Push the tube all the way inside the tire and above the inside of the rim.
  • Beginning at the valve stem, insert the bead of the tire into the hook of the rim, and walk the tire all the way around the rim leaving as little unseated bead surface as possible.
  • Now insert your tire lever between the unseated bead and rim surface with the spoon side facing the rim.
  • Beginning at one end of the unseated bead, begin to roll the bead into the hook of the rim. Be careful not to pinch the tube with the tire lever as you perform this step.
  • Walk your hands around the tire, ensuring that the tire is completely seated into the rim and that no tube is exposed.
  • Install your inflation device on the valve stem, and inflate the tire by bursting small amounts of air into the tube while watching the tire. Fully inflate the tire once you are confident that the tire is completely seated on the rim. Do not rest the tire on the ground while inflating it as this may cause the tire to unseat during inflation. Instead, lay the wheel on its side as you inflate the tire.
  • Reinstall your wheel into the frame or fork. The most effective way to do this is to place the bicycle upright, resting on its wheels. This step will ensure that the wheels are properly seated in the dropouts.
  • Tighten and clamp your quick release, and reset the brakes.
  • Lift up the bike and spin the wheel to ensure that all has been installed properly.

Like every other aspect of your training, practice makes perfect, and replacing your tube takes a bit of practice to get it right, especially on race day. Be sure to go over the process a few times and get it down to a science. It can sometimes make all the difference!