Getting a flat tire mid-ride is every rider’s dreaded nightmare. And, since it works hard to catch bikers off-guard, bracing yourself a guide on how to fix it on your own won’t be a big deal.
Well, if you don’t want a flat tire to cut your riding escapade short, here’s your go-to guide with useful tips to changing a flat tire.
Table of Contents
1. Tools Needed To Patch Your Bike tire
Here are some tools and materials you will need when fixing a bike tire:
Whenever you are out for a ride, always bring vital spare tools with you. Since you’ll never see a puncture coming, always include a patch in the toolkit because it is among the must-have items.
If you ever have a tire puncture that damages the tube when you are in the middle of nowhere, trust a patch kit to save your day.
You can use the patch to block the leaking spot on the tube and embark on your ride. Do you have it? If yes, set it ready.
Why would you need a bike pump? You require it to inflate your tire in case you have to deal with an urgent tire fix. This is if you are miles away from the shops or at home.
Find a foot pump or a hand pump to carry with you. It can give you the fix you desperately need by helping put pressure into the tires.
Ensure that you select one that is small and compact enough to fit in your bag, bike frame, or your jersey’s pockets. When the time comes, set it beside the patch.
Bucket of water
Since you will be dealing with the tire tube, water is a must-have. You will need the water to watch out for air bubbles that come out of the rubber’s leaking spot.
What else can you use to mark a spot on black rubber other than a piece of chalk? This chalk will enable you to keep the spot in your view when working on other parts of the tire.
After locating the leakage, use a roughing device such as sandpaper to scrape the spot. Scraping provides the roughness that boosts the adherence of the patch.
Adhesive or Glue
Well, the patch has to stick onto the tube after all. For this, an adhesive or glue will help it stick.
After patching the leaking spot using the patch and the glue, you’ll have to allow it to dry for a while. However, the adhesive might tick onto the inside of the tire in the process and make the repair useless.
To avoid the patch from adhering onto the inner tube, you’ll have to sprinkle talcum powder around it until the patch dries.
You’ll need a lever when you want to get the tube out of the rim.
2. Prepare The Bike Tube
Preparing the tube can be a challenge if you don’t know where to begin. Here are the steps you should follow:
Remove the wheel from the bike
Removing the wheel from the bicycle will offer easy accessibility to the faulty part in the tube. Begin by flipping the bicycle upside down – the wheels face up. It’ll expose the wheels you have to remove.
Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts that hold the wheel in place. If you are dealing with the rear tire, unscrew the brake band that is on the lower frame.
Use tire levers to remove the tire
Unlike traditional bikes that use wrenches when removing tires, modern bikes require the use of levers for the process. These levers can be of hard plastic or steel and mostly come in a pair or a set of three.
Slip the hooks on the lever under the lip of the tire to secure leverage. The tool should lift the edge of the tire above the outside of the rim. Push the lever around the rim until there’s space to remove the tire.
If you don’t have a lever for the job, avoid using any other tool. The tool might tear the tire instead.
Take the outer tire off
When the tire is out of place, pry it for sharp cutting objects like nails and glass that might have been behind the puncture.
You can then use hands to remove the tire from the wheel. From there, you should be able to remove the tube as well.
3. Locate The Puncture
If you have the tube in your hands, locating the leaking position should kick off easily. However, you have to be careful because this part is the heart of the process.
But how can you locate the puncture when some holes are so tiny and invisible? Relax, because there are various techniques to puncture-spot.
You can literally go through all of them until you find one that gives accurate results. All you need is to sharpen your sensing skills. Some techniques include:
What works most of the time is when you inflate the tube 3 to 4 times its normal size. The pressure will stretch the tube and enlarge the hole to make it visible. Use your eyes to check the surface of the rubber for the enlarged holes.
Using your auditory sense is the quickest overall technique. To pull it off, pump the tube with enough pressure until it is sturdy. Then move to a quiet place and rotate it past your ear.
You should be able to capture the location of the puncture because a hissing sound of escaping air will give up the leaking spot.
You can also pass your fingers over the spot. You’ll hear a noise whenever the finger blocks and unblocks the hole.
After inflating the tube, bring the tube closer to your face, nose, lips, or eye. Such places are sensitive to airflows. You will feel the streams of escaping air hitting your face or eye. It should help you detect the puncture hole.
With The Help Of Water
One of the most common tricks is inflating the tube by submerging it in a container of water. The pressure in the tube should be more than the normal pressure.
By doing so, the rubber will stretch and enlarge the hole in the process. The enlarged hole produces bigger and detectable air bubbles in the water.
4. Prepare The Tube For Patching
Patching is an essential part of this process and here is how you prepare for it:
Mark the hole In the tube
You must have spotted the hole by now because any of the puncture-spotting technique works right. Now that you have identified it, use a piece of chalk to make a distinct and visible mark around the hole. The highlight will prevent you from miss the spot during the next steps.
Deflate the tube
Have you found the stubborn hole? You can now remove air from the tube so you can work on patching it.
Remove any foreign objects from the hole (If any)
Your tube must have picked several foreign objects during your long riding escapades. For this reason, it is crucial to inspect the hole visually to detect any debris such as thorns, glass, or wood around it.
Prepare The Area Around The Hole
There you go, almost done! Now, it is time to prep the area surrounding the hole. You should understand that the prepping part entails two crucial methods. These methods are:
To begin with, run sandpaper around the hole to roughen up the area. By doing so, the roughness provides the glue ground to stick on to. And, if you want the patch to stick well, ensure that the area you roughen is larger than the patch you intend to use.
After sanding the puncture hole, the next step is to apply glue around the hole.
5. Patch Your Bike Tire
If you want the patch to work, you have to do it right. Below are the things you should do when patching your bike’s tire.
Nothing should stop you from patching up the hole when the surrounding surface is rough enough. And, for patches that require you to use glue, you will have to apply the fluid over the abrasive zone. Ensure that the fluid is thin. Apart from that, apply it evenly on the site.
Wait for the glue to set
After applying, it is essential to wait for a few minutes for the adhesive to get tacky. The reason is that tacky glue holds better than the wet one. Ensure that the glue dries adequately.
Place the patch
If the glue is tacky enough, remove the backing from the patch and press it over the hole. Press it hard while holding it in position for a while longer. Sprinkle talcum powder on the patch to prevent the inner part of the tube from adhering to the adhesive.
Wait 24 hours
Is the hole patched up? Good work! Now, wait for 24 hours before fixing the tube back on the tire.
It is crucial to note that sometimes you don’t require the adhesive fluid to make the patch stick. The reason is that self-adhesive patches don’t require glue because they have it on them already. However, most cyclists do not recommend them because they wear out faster.
For such patches, you only have to peel off the protective wrapper and stick it hard over the hole. Hold it tight until it is dry.
6. Assemble Your Wheel
This is where you get the chance to check how your patch is holding up. Here is how it’s done.
Replace the tube in the tire
What next after the patching up the hole other than replacing the tube in the tire.
Check for the inflation valve
Ensure it points inward (away from the tire) when you lay the tube in the tire. It will ease the pumping process.
Work the tire and tube back onto the wheel
Use hands to insert the tire and tube onto the rim to avoid damages.
Inspect the bead, and inflate the tube gradually to let the tube and tire settle
While at it, check and remove the debris on the tube.
7. Assemble Your Bike
After fitting the tire onto the rim, place it on the bicycle to make it whole again.
Should You Buy A New Tube?
If the puncture is extreme and repairing will be straining, you can choose to buy another tube. Apart from that, purchase if it is too old that there are more patches than tube.
There reaches a time when you have to choose between fixing and buying a brand-new tube. Well, keep in mind that repairing can work as good as new if you ever find yourself at such a crossroads,
How Long Can You Ride On A Patch Bike Tire?
There is no hard rule to this, because it’ll depend how aggressively you ride and on what surface, but generally speaking, based on my experiences and others, a patched tire, if done correctly, will last just as long as an unpatched one.