There’s never a good time to have a puncture, and you should always carry a compact repair kit and some tire levers with you on a two-wheeled outing. Repairing a puncture is a simple process, but it takes time; inserting a new tube is quicker when out on the road.
1. You will need:
- Time needed to fix a flat: 10 to 25 minutes.
- You will need: two tire levers or flat screwdrivers, wrench, new inner tube or puncture repair kit, and a bucket of water.
2. Here’s how
- Take the wheel out. Loosen the nuts or quick-release lever on the wheel axle, then remove the wheel from the frame. (For a rear wheel, lift the chain off the cogs first.)
- Insert a tire lever — a plastic tool that you can buy from any cycle store — between the wheel rim and tire. Lever the edge of the tire away from the rim and hook the other end of the lever onto a wheel spoke to keep it in place. Insert a second tire lever about 25 cm (10 in) farther along the rim. Lever away the edge of the tire and run the lever all the way around the rim until the tire is loose. Remove the inner tube, first unscrewing the valve nut that holds the tube on the rim. If you don’t have tire levers, you could use the flat end of a spoon instead, but you risk damaging the wheel rim or the inner tube itself.
- Check the inside of the tire for sharp objects. Re-centre the rubber strip on the inside of the wheel rim; it covers the ends of the spokes, protecting your inner tube.
- To fit a new inner tube, go to step 5. To fix the puncture, partially inflate the tube and place it in a bucket of water — a stream of bubbles will betray the site of the puncture. Dry the area around the hole (or holes), mark it (or them) with a pen, and roughen the area (or areas) with sandpaper. Apply a thin layer of puncture-repair glue around the hole, covering an area slightly larger than the patch. Leave it to dry until tacky. Apply the patch, pressing firmly and pushing outwards from the centre to create a seal. Leave it to dry fully.
- Pump just enough air into the repaired or new inner tube to turn it into a limp doughnut. Insert the valve through the hole in the wheel rim, then push the rest of the tube inside the tire.
- Push the remaining side of the tire back inside the wheel rim with your thumbs, starting from the point opposite the inner-tube valve. Work around until you reach the valve, using tire levers to press in the final bit of tire, if necessary. Replace the wheel on your bicycle frame and inflate the new or repaired inner tube to the correct pressure.
3. Tools of the trade
- Trail tools: It’s a good idea to take a few tools with you each time you go for a ride, just in case you have a problem a long walk from home.
- A pump, puncture repair kit, tire levers and a multi-tool are the bare necessities.
- Take a spare inner tube if you have space, as it’s much quicker to install a new tube than fix a punctured one.
- Pack them in a saddlebag (stowed underneath the saddle) or other bag for easy portability.