How to Change a Flat Tire

Cycling has become a popular sport and pastime for people everywhere. Whether mountain biking, road racing, or riding for recreational fun, you'll have to change a tire at some point. In this guide, you'll learn how to change a flat tire.

Necessary Tools

Typically, changing a flat tire means replacing the tube. When your tire has a flat, the tube tends to be the affected part. The following are tools and parts you'll need to change your tire:

  • Two tire levers. A tire lever is a small tool that's used to dislodge the tire from the metal rim of the wheel.
  • Air pump or CO inflator and cartridge.
  • Spare tube.
  • Patch kit.

Remove the Wheel

To remove your front wheel, flip open your brake's quick-release lever. This lever is located above the wheel on the frame of the bike. Next, flip open the quick release lever on your wheel. You'll find this lever off the hub of your wheel. This should loosen your wheel from the bike frame. If you still have trouble removing the wheel, unscrew the nut located on the opposite side of your wheel's quick release lever. A couple spins of this nut will loosen your wheel completely for removal.

Your rear wheel will have a slightly different process since you have to deal with a chain. First, shift your chain to the lowest cog, also known as the highest gear. Like the front wheel, open the quick-release lever on the wheel. Now, open the quick release lever on the brake. This should loosen your wheel so you can gently tap it out of the frame. If you need more help, you can lift the derailleur back and push the wheel out or you can try gently loosening the nut on the wheel. The derailleur is a mechanism on the wheel that moves the chain for shifting into gears.

Changing the Tire

With a little practice, changing a tire will become second-nature. Here are the steps:

  • Release the air out of your tire and have your tire levers handy so you can remove the tire. Starting from the opposite end of the valve stem, insert the edge of your tire lever between the rim and tire. Leave the lever inserted into the tire and hold it secure with one hand if needed.
  • Moving a couple inches away from your first tire lever, insert the edge of your second tire lever in between the tire and rim. The small gap created by the first tire lever should help you insert your second lever. Now that your second tire lever is in between the rim and tire, slowly run the tire lever away from your body, around the entire wheel to loosen the tire while maintaining your safety.
  • Reach under the loosened tire and pull out the tube. Slowly run your fingers or a cloth between the tire and rim, focusing on the underside of the tire. Check for any debris that could have caused a flat. Promptly remove any foreign debris. At this point, you can use your patch kit if the damage is small enough. 
  • Pump a little air into your new tube to give it some shape. This will make it easier to tuck it in and prevent pinching. Beginning at the valve, start tucking your new tube along the inside of your loosened tire until it's completely tucked in. Now, you can finish up by tucking your loosened tire back into the rim. If this becomes too hard, you can utilize your tire levers to help push and secure the tire to the rim.
  • Finally, pump air into your tire.

Install the Wheel

To install a front wheel, simply reverse the process you used to remove the wheel. Position the wheel into the slots of the dropouts. The quick-release lever should be on the same side as the rear wheel. With your bike in position, tighten the nut opposite of the wheel's quick-release lever. The nut is properly tightened when there's slight resistance when pushing the quick-release lever. Flip the wheel's quick-release lever closed and make sure it's tightly shut. Now, close the brakes. You've successfully installed your front wheel.

The rear wheel undergoes a similar process. Drape your chain over the smallest cog and place the wheel back into the dropouts. Flip the wheel's quick-release lever and close the quick-release lever on the brakes. Your rear wheel is now installed.

Learn the Steps

It's important to know how to change a tire in order to conduct bicycle maintenance and fix possible flats. When cycling, it's best to keep a couple spare tubes, tire levers, and a small air pump in a saddle bag. With the necessary tools, you'll be able to conquer any road or trail on your next cycling adventure.

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