Fixing a puncture on your bicycle involves repairing or replacing the inner tube that holds the air in your tire. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
Materials You’ll Need:
- Replacement inner tube (if the puncture is too large to repair)
- Tire levers
- Patch kit (for repairing small punctures)
- Bucket of water
- Piece of chalk
- Remove the Wheel:
If you have a rear-wheel puncture, shift the chain onto the smallest chainring and smallest rear cog to make it easier to remove the wheel. For a front-wheel puncture, this step isn’t necessary.
- Deflate the Tyre:
Use the valve cap to remove the core of the valve, allowing the air to escape. Completely deflate the tire.
- Remove the Tire:
Use tire levers to carefully pry one side of the tire bead over the rim. Insert a second tire lever a few inches away and slide it along the rim, which will help you remove one side of the tire from the rim. Be careful not to pinch the inner tube with the tire lever.
- Remove the Inner Tube:
Gently remove the inner tube from inside the tyre, being careful not to damage it further.
- Locate the Puncture:
Inflate the inner tube slightly (just enough to give it shape) and listen or feel for the escaping air to locate the puncture. Alternatively, you can submerge the tube in water and watch for bubbles to identify the leak and mark with a piece of chalk.
- Mark the Puncture:
Once you’ve found the puncture, mark it with a pen or pencil or chalk so you can easily locate it again.
- Repair the Puncture (For Small Holes):
If the puncture is small (like from a thorn or tiny nail), you can repair it with a patch kit. Follow the instructions on the patch kit packaging, which generally involve cleaning the area around the puncture, applying glue, placing the patch over the puncture, and allowing it to dry.
- Replace the Inner Tube (For Larger Holes):
If the puncture is too large to repair or if you’re unable to find the hole, you’ll need to replace the inner tube. Install the new or repaired tube inside the tyre, making sure the valve lines up with the valve hole in the rim.
- Reassemble the Tyre:
Start by pushing one side of the tyre bead onto the rim. Then, working your way around the rim, use your hands to push the rest of the bead over the rim. Be careful not to pinch the inner tube between the tyre bead and the rim.
- Partially Inflate the Tube:
Inflate the inner tube slightly to give it shape but not so much that it’s firm. This helps prevent pinching the tube while fully inflating it.
- Check and Adjust Tire Placement:
Go around the tyre, checking that the inner tube isn’t getting pinched between the tyre bead and the rim. Adjust as needed.
- Fully Inflate the Tyre:
Use a pump to fully inflate the tyre to the recommended pressure, which is usually written on the side of the tire.
- Reattach the Wheel:
If you removed the wheel, reattach it to the bike, making sure the chain is properly seated on the gears (for rear wheels).
- Test Ride:
Take a short test ride to ensure that the tyre holds air and that the repair was successful.
Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if it takes a couple of tries to become comfortable with this process. Always carry a spare tube and a patch kit when you go riding in case you encounter another puncture.