It’s inevitable – if you are a cyclist, you will need to know how to fix a flat bike tire. Fortunately, fixing a flat tire is something that is easy once you do it a few times. Instead of getting frustrated, relax and spend a few minutes giving your bike some TLC and you will be back on the road again soon.
It’s much easier to fix a flat if you remove the bike wheel. First, release the brakes, being careful not to touch the rotor if you have disc brakes. It’s possible the rotor can burn you if you touch it. Next, release the wheel using either the release lever or the bolt-on nut. Insert two tire levers between the rim of the tire and the tire bead (the area the grips the metal rim) on both sides. Push the levers from the wheel, removing a side of the tire bead. You can leave the other side as you only need to remove a single side to change the tube.
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Removing the valve cap (the place you pump air in the tire) will allow you to then pull the tube out of the tire. Inspect both the tube and tire carefully to determine the cause of the flat. You may want to use a cloth to see if it catches on anything before you use your fingers. Be careful as the sharp culprit might be embedded in the tire or tube. Remove the debris and check the tread of the tire for any large cuts. Check to see if the spokes or sharpened edges are rubbing against the metal rim.
Pump up the old tube about halfway and place it in a bucket of water to check for a leak. You will be able to determine the area of the leak because bubbles will form around it. If you do not have access to a bucket of water, a spray bottle will work or, in a pinch, you can cup water in your hand and move the tube through it. In these cases you will want to more fully inflate the tube.
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If you have a tube repair kit, use it to repair the damage to the tube. Alternatively, you can use a new tube. Once you have patched the tube, pump it up slightly and then insert it back in the tire. Carefully put the valve in the valve opening and maneuver the remaining tube around the tire. Pull the rubber bead back towards the metal rim. It should drop into place and secure into the metal rim. Towards the end you may need to use your fingertips to apply pressure to make it fit.
Now completely inflate the tire to the recommended pressure. Check carefully for any areas of bulging or low spots. Once you have determined the tire has been repaired, put the wheel back in place. Be sure it spins without any rubbing or wobbling and connect the brakes.
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Another temporary alternative that can be used in an emergency situation is bike Fix-a-Flat. The same product we have probably all used on car tires can also be used on bicycle tires, just be sure to purchase the one designed for bikes. This is great to keep on hand for times you might need to repair a tire quickly or cannot get dirty (like if you are commuting to work). It won’t work on the most damaged flats, but will quickly and easily get most bikes in operating condition in just a few minutes. It’s a lifesaver for avid cyclists.
If you ride often, you know that getting flat tires if a fact of life. Sadly, bicycle crashes are also a fact of life. If you ride enough, you will eventually get in a bicycle crash. If you have been involved in a bicycle crash and sustained injuries, contact an experienced bicycle injury attorney at Kass & Moses for a free consultation. The lawyers at Kass & Moses are also cyclists, so they understand just how eager you are to get back on your bike. They will do all they can to help you recover financially so that you are free to focus on recovering from your injuries.