How to Change a Bike Tire

Bike-tire-repairby Barb Hopkins

Changing a flat bike tire is a basic repair every cyclist should know how to perform. Changing a bike tire can be done in a few steps and with minimum tools.

Remove the wheel

Before attempting any maintenance or bike tire repair, consult your owner’s manual. The manual may offer step-by-step instructions for removing the wheel of your particular bike make and model. However, whether it’s a mountain bike, road bike or child’s bicycle, the basic steps for removing the wheel or tire are similar.

Release the bike’s brakes to begin the wheel removal process. Many bikes have a quick release system that allows you to disconnect and then reconnect the brakes as needed. Once the brakes have been disengaged, remove the wheel — usually by loosening the nut or using the bike’s built-in wheel release.

Schwinn-bike-tireRear wheels and chains

The basic steps for removing the bike’s rear wheel are the same as for the front with one exception. The rear wheel has the bike’s chain. Before removing the rear wheel, you’ll need to shift the chain so it sets on the bicycle’s smallest cog. Follow the recommendations in your model’s manual for the best procedure.

Remove tire from rim

Once the wheel is off, you can change a bike tire by removing it from the rim. The tire is held tight to the rim through air pressure and grip. You can remove it using tire levers. There are several quality bike levers sets from Ventura, Tour De France and others.

Always insert the first lever on the opposite side of the valve in order to avoid potential damage to the valve stem. Simply insert the lever between the tire and the rim, gently pushing the tire up and away from the rim. Leave that first lever in place and insert a second about 3 to 4 inches away from the first. You may need three levers to remove the tire from the rim safely and without damage.

Remove inflatable tube

Bike-innertubeInside the tire is the inflatable tube. Remove the tube from the tire. Usually this can be completed by hand, but if it resists, use the tire levers to release it. Depending on the damage, you may choose to replace or patch the tube.

If damage is due to a puncture, check to ensure the sharp object (nail, glass, shard of metal or other road debris) is no longer poking through the tire. If it is, remove the object (carefully) before replacing the tube.

When inserting the new tube, be sure not to twist it. Keep it flat, and keep the valve stem pointing to center. It may be easier to install if you inflate the tube slightly.

Replace tire on rim

Align the valve stem with its hole before replacing the tire on the rim. Work the edge (bead) of the tire carefully, reseating one edge of the tire. Begin to work the other edge of the tire onto the rim, starting near the valve stem. When replacing the tire, be sure the valve stem is straight and not at an angle. If your tube becomes caught between the tire’s rim and its edge, you’ll need to reposition it or this can cause a flat.

Inflate the tire slowly, according to the pressure measurement in your owner’s manual. Reattach the wheel to the bicycle by reversing the procedure you used to remove it.

Bicycle-tube-patch-kitTire and tube repair kits

Tire and tube repair kits often come with patches, glue and an air valve to connect to the tire valve directly. Kits from Schwinn and Super B are compact and easily can fit in your vehicle’s trunk or can be carried in a backpack when out for a long ride.


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