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How to change a bike tire

Updated on October 18, 2010

Bicycle tires get flats too

Since bicyclists generally ride on the side of the rode where all the broken glass and stones get pushed, they will actually get fewer miles in between flats than if they were driving a car. Unfortunately, most bike riders don't carry a spare in the back, but on the plus side you can walk a bicycle anywhere, unlike a car. I'm going to show you how to change a bicycle flat using a spare and some tools you should keep at home.

What you need

You'll need the following items for this project:

  • a spare tire that fits your bicycle wheel
  • an adjustable wrench
  • two tire levers that you can buy from a bicycle shop
  • silicon lubricant
  • a spare inner tube or materials to patch an inner tube (may not be needed)

Remove the wheel

Use the wrench to loosen the nut that attaches your wheel to your frame. If it's the rear tire you're going to need to be careful because you get all those gears in there. Be careful not to break anything or get the chain all messed up. Spray the silicon lubricant on the nut if it's not coming off.

Once you get the tire off you want to deflate it by pressing down on the inner part of the valve.

Remove the tire

Now we're going to take those tire levers to remove the tire. You can also use the handle of a piece of silverware if you don't have tire levers. We need to be careful here not to damage the rim or cut the inner tube. You need to pry the level where the tire meets the rim. Lift it carefully to get the tire out and over the rim at that spot. Try to pull it out about 1/8th of the way around the tire. Then take the other level and do the same thing. It should get a little easier as you make your way around the tire. Once you get the tire all the way up and off the rim on one side, you might have to unscrew the nut on the valve stem that connects to the inner tube.

Fix the tire or inner tube

Now we need to either patch the damaged area of the inner tube or tire or replace the tire completely. I'm going to assume you need a tire replacement, so I'll explain how to do that.

Make sure your tire is the right direction

Many tires are not bidirectional, so you're going to need to look at the tread or read the sidewalls to see what direction the tire should be.

Putting on the tire

Put the tire on one side at a time. When you've got half of the tire over the rim, fit the inner tube into the tire. Make sure to get the valve into the hole in the rim. Once you get the inner tube completely inside the tire, work the other half of the tire onto the rim using your fingers. Start on the side closest to the valve. Use the levers for the last part of the tire if you can't get it on.

Inspect and inflate

Now inspect the edge where the tire meets the rim all the around the wheel. There can't be any inner tube peaking through. If there is inner tube pinched in between, the thing will pop when you try to inflate it and you'll have to go buy a new inner tube.

Now inflate slowly so you can inspect the tire as it's inflating. Test it out carefully after it's inflated. If you did everything right, you're all set to ride away into the sunset.


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