Beginner Triathlon 101 - How To Change A Flat Bike Tire

Other than the swim, most beginner triathlete's biggest fear when training for their first sprint triathlon is getting a flat tire. When this happens, it can deflate your spirit just as fast as it deflates the tire.

The best advice I can give to any beginner triathlete is to practice changing your tires BEFORE it happens, that way, you won't have to worry about being stranded somewhere because you'll already have the skills to fix it on your own!

My Flat Tire Story

Let's rewind a few years to when I was a beginner triathlete training for my first sprint triathlon. I started training for my triathlon in March. So for those colder months, I had trained on a stationary bike. By the time the weather warmed up, I was ready to bike outside. On the first warm day of spring, I took my bike to a trail and set out for a ride. My first mistake was not knowing that riding a road bike on a rocky, dirt path was not the best idea. After about 1 mile, I got my very first flat tire.

And that's where I made my second mistake. I had no idea how to change it. Sure, I had my handy bike multi-tool and an air pump, but I didn't have a spare tire, nor did I have a clue how to change it. So I had to walk my bike 1 mile back to the car where I drove home, defeated.

So, to avoid getting discouraged, follow these steps and practice changing your tire so that if it happens to you, it will be like second nature... just like riding a bike.

Get The Right Tools

You'll need a spare inner tube, a wedge tool, an air pump or CO2 tire inflator and your muscles!

1. Turn your bike upside down so that you have easy access to your tire.

2. Open the quick release lever and twist it until you can remove the wheel from the bike. This will make it much easier to work with.

3. Using your wedge tool. pry the thick outer tire out of the metal rim and slide the wedge tool around the rim until the thick outer tire is free from the rim You don't have to remove it completely, one side will do.

4. Next, completely remove the inner tube from the rim.

5. Then pump just a small amount of air into your new inner tube, just so that it keeps its form and is easier to place around the rim of the inner tube. Then, close the nozzle so that the air can't escape wheel you're putting it around the rim.

6. Insert the nozzle into the designated hole in the rim and then gently push the tube around the rim, making sure the inner tube sits in the center of the rim and does not come in contact with the sharp edge, which could cause another flat tire.

7. Then, push the edge of the outer tube over the inner tube and back into the rim. when you have about an inch or 2 to go, it will be difficult to get it back in the rim, so use your wedge tool to pry it back in, being careful not to puncture your new inner tube!

8. on your outer tube, you'll notice a number with the abbreviations P.S.I written on the side. That's how much you will inflate your tire. It you're using an air pump, refer to the pressure gage. If you're using a CO2 inflator, simply inflate the tire much as you can. If your pump doesn't have a pressure gage, inflate your tire so that it's very firm and doesn't give when you pinch it.

9. Place the wheel back on your bike, tighten the nut and clsoe the lever.

10. hop back on your bike and ride into the sunset!

Below is a how-to video to show you exactly how to change your flat tire. This is a great skill to have as a beginner triathlete and I promise you that if you practice it before hand, if it does happen, you'll be much more at ease about fixing it yourself. Also, you can now bike with confidence knowing that with the proper tools, you'll never be stranded.

Flat tires happen to most people, so don't get discouraged if it happens to you. Learn from the experience and gain a new skill so that you'll be even better equipped for your sprint triathlon!

Beginner Triathlete 101

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Triathlon Sherpa profile image

Triathlon Sherpa 3 years ago

Good tips, thanks.

My tip from experience. I changed a tube and reinstalled the tire to find the new tube was flat also. The piece of glass that caused the original puncture was stuck in the rim. So scan the tire for any sharp objects still embedded (nails, glass) and run your finger around the rim to check for anything that may have caused the puncture.

Oh, by the way, you can just remove one side of the tire from the wheel rim, this will give you enough access to remove and replace the tube.

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