Flat Repair – Tubular Tire

Much like the clincher tire system, you still need to be prepared for a mishap or puncture on the road with your tubular tires. Keep in mind this system is uniquely different and requires a different approach to the repair or roadside replacement.

  • A spare tubular that has either been installed or used once before, or one that has been mildly stretched and pre-glued. Make sure it is the right size for your wheel and that it has the proper length valve extender if you need one. 28”=700c and 26”=650c
  • A CO2 powered inflation system and a spare CO2.
  • Tire tool for removing the tubular. Same tire lever as a clincher system.
  • A multi-tool to help with roadside repairs, and a paper sealed razor blade.
  • A CO2 powered Sealant system such as Fast Air or Pit Stop.


Wether you are racing on tubulars or just choose them for everyday riding, at some point you will have a flat. Repairing or replacing a punctured tubular can seem a bit intimidating, but it is much easier than you think. With a little instruction and some practice you will be able to do it with no problem. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get to a safe place on the road that will provide you enough room to work. If you are racing, make sure you don’t impede the other athletes.
  2. Initially, you need to decide how severe the puncture is. If it deflated very quickly, in less than 15 seconds or so, you have a major leak. If the leak is slow, occurring over a bit more time and making the tell-tale sound of rotating air pissing out, you have a slow leak.

Slow Leak Process, Sealant Solution

If you have a slow leak, you’re in luck. (as if a leak was good luck) Modern technology has given us a quick and easy solution; the CO2 powered sealant system.

  1. Following the instructions on the sealant can, fill the punctured tire and rotate the hole to the ground. Allow the sealant to work its way to the hole and begin to seal it up. You may hear a bubbling sound as the sealant finds the leak.
  2. If you need to add a bit more pressure to the tire, use your CO2 inflator and add some pressure. Once you begin to ride on the wheel again, the sealant will continue to slosh around inside the tire and further fill the small puncture. Continue as planned and have a good ride!
  3. Still leaking? No problem, have a look at the next section and replace that leaker.

Fast Leak Process, Tubular Removal and Spare Installation

If your puncture is a fast leak, no problem, you’re going to need to replace the leaky tire.

  1. Open or release the brake system to provide sufficient room to remove the deflated wheel.
  2. 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.
  3. Begin to remove the tire by grasping the tire opposite of the valve stem and working it from side to side to begin breaking the glue or tape bond. This can be difficult, and in some cases can be darn-near impossible.
  4. If you can get the tire pulled far enough away from the rim that you can feasibly insert a tire lever between the tire and the rim, you have been successful! Slide a tire lever completely through the tire and rim surface and grasp it on both sides of the rim, perpendicular to the rim.
  5. Next, slide the tire lever towards you while holding the wheel perpendicular to your body and bracing it against the ground. Slide the lever about a quarter to half way around the rim to break the bond of the glue or tape to loosen up a large section of tire.
  6. Next, place the still attached section of the tire/rim on the ground parallel to your body and rip the loosened section from the rim in a downward pushing motion. If your flat is on the rear wheel, be sure to work on the side opposite of the cassette to avoid bloody knuckles. You should be able to rip the tire cleanly from the rim surface working toward the valve stem, pulling it out last.
    1. If you cannot get the glue or tape bond broken, no worries. Cue the razor blade! Simply cut your tire off the rim being careful not to damage the rim or yourself in the process. Keep in mind, with a major cut or damaged area the tire is essentially ruined and is not feasibly repaired. You’re going to need to replace it anyway, so why not make it easy on yourself, especially if you are racing.
    2. Once you have gap cut in the tire, begin to pull the tire away from the rim surface by breaking the glue or tape bond to the rim. Work your way around to the valve stem and pull it out last.
  7. Once you have the damaged tire removed from the rim, have a quick look at the rim to make sure there is no dirt or debris stuck to the glued area. Unfold your spare and get set to stick it!
  8. Insert the valve stem first and walk the tire all the way around the rim sticking the cotton backing strip to the rim as tightly as possible. Sometimes it helps to rest the opposite side of the rim on the ground in front of you and work the tire on from the top down.
  9. Keep working the spare around the rim until you have it centered on the rim. Give it a quick check to make sure it is in fact straight on the rim.
  10. Install your inflation device on the valve stem, and inflate the tire. Make sure the inflator is in the upright position or you will fill the valve with liquid CO2 and possibly freeze it closed.
  11. 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.
  12. Tighten and clamp your quick release, and reset the brakes.
  13. Lift up the bike and spin the wheel to ensure that all has been installed properly.