How to fix a bike puncture
If you’re a regular bike rider, you’ll know that flat tyres and punctures are a part of the package. But, if you’re a beginner in the sport, you may not know how to fix a bike puncture. So, here is our easy step-by-step guide on how to fix a bike puncture, whether you’re at home or caught short in the middle of a ride.
Table of contents
- How can I tell if I have a puncture?
- What tools do I need to fix a bike puncture?
- How to fix a bike puncture: Step-by-step guide
How can I tell if I have a puncture?
Your tyres will deflate naturally over a few weeks, so don’t confuse this with a bike puncture. Usually, you can tell if you have a bike puncture if it is deflating rapidly. You also might hear a hissing noise as the air escapes.
What tools do I need to fix a bike puncture?
You will need
- Tyre levers x2
- Bike pump or CO2 inflator
- Spare inner tube or a patch or puncture repair kit
- Bucket of water
- Wrench or an adjustable wrench if you don’t have quick-release tyres
How to fix a bike puncture: Step-by-step guide
1. Remove the wheel
Removing your wheel when fixing your bike’s puncture is better for easier access to the inner tube. If removing your rear wheel, put the chain on the smallest gear cog first.
If you have quick-release wheels, your job is easy, undo the quick-release on the skewer. If you have rim breaks, undo the quick release on these to take off the wheel.
Then gently take the front wheel off, taking care not to drop the forks on a hard surface because this could damage the frame, especially if it is a carbon frame.
If removing the rear wheel, pull back the derailleur to release the wheel from the chain. Be careful not to catch the spokes on the frame or tangle the chain.
For non-quick-release wheels like a fixed-gear bike or BMX, you will need a spanner or an adjustable wrench to undo the wheel nuts.
2. Deflate your tyre
Once the wheel is out, deflate the tyre to remove the inner tube.
Remove the dust cap. If you have a Schrader valve (like a car), push down on the pin in the middle of the valve hole to deflate the tyre. Or, if you have a Presta valve (the long, thin ones on road bikes), unscrew the locknut and press it in.
3. Remove the tyre
Now you must take off the tyre to get to the inner tube. Start at the opposite side of the valve and insert your tyre lever under the tyre bead to lift one side of the tyre rim.
If you don’t have any help, you can use the spokes to hook and keep the tyre lever in place. Move the tyre lever along a few inches and do the same with the second lever.
Eventually, you can move one tyre lever around the entire wheel circumference, loosening it for removal.
4. Remove the tube and find the puncture
You should now be able to remove the deflated inner tube to find the source of the puncture.
If a nail, a shard of glass, a thorn or a sharp rock made the puncture, you need to locate it by checking the tyre, or you’ll get another puncture.
You can find the puncture by inflating the tube and finding the split, or if you’re at home, you can get a bucket of water and squeeze the inflated tube under the water. Find the bubbles, and you’ll find your puncture.
Once you find the puncture, check in the same place inside and outside the tyre to see if there are any additional obstructions or sharp objects. If there are any sharp objects, remove them carefully.
5. Fix your puncture
Take the tube and rub sandpaper on the punctured area to help the adhesive patch stick. Then add glue to the affected area and stick your patch down. If you have a self-adhesive patch, apply the sticker directly. Let the glue dry. Then make sure it is airtight by adding air in the tube or using the water bucket technique again.
You can always bring an emergency inner tube on your ride, as inner tubes are more manageable to replace than fix on the road. Doing this allows you to fix your punctured tyre at home or recycle it.
6. Replace the inner tube
Always start by inserting the valve if you are replacing your repaired tube or the new one. Tuck the inner tube inside the tyre and start working it around the wheel.
The deflated tube can be challenging to manipulate. So, adding a little air can help you slot it into place. But be careful not to add too much, as this could damage the tube whilst you’re trying to put it back.
7. Attach the tyre again
Now that you have replaced the inner tube, you must attach the tyre. Start near the valve and tuck the tyre bead into the wheel rim. Ensure your inner tube is securely in the tyre and not trapped, or you could cause another puncture.
Work your way around the wheel using your thumbs to push the tyre into the rim. You may be able to roll the tyre onto the wheel rim the whole way, but if this is too challenging, use the tyre leavers.
8. Inflate your tyre
Put a little air in your tyres, and ensure the tyre correctly sits on the wheel rim. Now pump your tyres to the recommended tyre pressure using a tyre pump or CO2 pump.
9. Reattach your wheel to your bike
Lastly, reattach your wheel to your bike by tightening the bolts or quick-release skewer and the quick-release on the break. Spin the wheel in mid-air to check it is straight, and test your bike breaks before you set off. You are now ready to go on your way.
Getting a puncture can be frustrating and worrying if you are stranded far from home without the experience to fix a tyre. But now you know how to repair a punctured tyre, you’ll be fully prepared for your next adventure. At Swinnerton Cycles, we want to provide you with the kit and knowledge to help you get on your bike again, no matter where you are.