Bike Repairs: Fixing A Flat Tire

Doesn't it suck when you're ridin' around on your bike, when suddenly you hear a pop and you have a flat tire. That really bites. It means you gotta walk everywhere or ride a wonky wheel... Unless you know how to fix a flat.

What You'll Need to Fix a Bike Flat

  • A tire lever
  • Some sandpaper
  • A patch kit (this comes with patches and glue)
  • A bike pump.

Removing the Tire From the Rim

Before you remove the flat tire, let all the remaining air out. You can do this by taking off the valve cap then pressing the valve down at an angle. Set the wheel on the floor or ground. Grab the rim with one hand, and try to pull the tire sideways over the top of the rim with the other hand. You may need to use a tire lever. Start by putting the lever anywhere between the tire and the edge of the rim. Insert the lever just far enough to pry the edge of the tire over the edge of the rim - but be careful not to poke a hole in the inner tube! Once you've pryed the tire over the rim a few inches, you should be able to pull out the inner tube, then pry the rest of the tire off by hand.

Patching a Flat Bike Tire

The first thing you need to do is find out where the hole in the tube is. You can do this by pumping up the tube, and listening for where the air is coming from. Or, you can put the whole tube under water and look for bubbles coming out. Once you've found the hole, here's how you patch it;

  • Roughen the area around the hole with sandpaper or a scaper. Be sure there's no dirt around the hole.
  • Spread a little bit of glue over the area of the hole (you don't need gobs and gobs of it, just enough to cover the area), then let the glue fully dry - this should take about three minutes.
  • Peel the foil or plastic backing off one of the patches, then firmly press the patch on to the glued area. Make sure you don't touch the side of the patch that's going on the tire - if it gets any dirt on it, the patch may not stick. You're tire is now patched.

Putting the Tire and Tube Back On

  • Once you've patched the tube, feel around the inside of the tire to make sure the thing that was stuck in your tire isn't still there.
  • Pump a little bit of air into your tube so it begins to take shape.
  • Put the tube firmly into the tire.
  • Push the valve half way into the valve hole on the rim.
  • Grab your bike wheel and slip the tire over one side of the rim. Once you have one side on, you should be able to slip the tire on to the other side using a tire lever. This may be a little tough at first, but it gets easier with practice. Just slip the tire on a few inches at a time and you'll eventually get it.
  • Once you have the tire on, pull and wiggle the valve into the proper position.
  • Now begin pumping air into the tire. Do it slowly at first and make sure to check that the tire is inflating evenly. If it is, fill up your tire to full pressure. Your tire should be firm, but you should still be able to push into it a little with your thumb.

You're now ready to go biking again. Fixing a flat tire can be difficult at first, so try not to get frustrated. If you're having trouble, ask your parents or your older brother or sister for help. And if that doesn't work? Just take the tire off your friend's and put it on to yours.

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