Hey all, flats do occur and you need to know how to change these out. This short action list is all you need to fix a flat like a pro.
Hopefully, you are using my tips to prevent flats, but they still occur sometimes.
Actions to change a flat tire:
- Disengage the brake
- Remove the wheel from the bike. I assume you have quick releases, and if you do not than pull out your crescent wrench and use this to remove wheel
- Fully deflate the tire, if not already done through the puncture failure point.
- Use the tire lever tool to remove the tire from your rim
- Remove the rubber hose from the tire
- If possible, take a damp rag or shirt and clean out any rocks and debris from inside the tire
- Take the new rubber hose and partially inflate (I recommend a small pump here rather than the CO2 cartridges) just enough to easily snake back into tire
- Place partially inflated rubber hose into the tire
- Position inflation nipple into hole of rim
- Use the tire lever tool to place tire on rim again (you may need to deflate the tire again)
- Once tire completely on rim, partially pump up tire and ensure that the rubber hose is completely below the tire (if not deflate and get rubber tube positioned completely below tire)
- Complete pumping up the tube
- Remount bike wheel
- Reengage the brake
That is it- simple and to the point. Good luck all.
Flat tires happen, and it sucks when you have to change a flat in the dark on a busy street under a street lamp. However, these events can be avoided through preventative maintenance and there are actions you can take to minimize the chances of a flat tire.
These are the actions to minimize the chances of a flat tire while commuting:
- Avoid broken glass and other debris on the road.
- Avoid bunny hopping over curves – this increases the pressure on the tire at impact.
- Ensure tires inflated to optimal pressure. If you see on the side of the tire it tells me that the optimal tire pressure is between 4 and 7 bar (55 and 100 psi) for my bike. The tires should be checked weekly – see maintenance schedule
- Check the wheels of your tires monthly and look for the following:
- Cracks in the rubber – if you see cracks then change them out
- Bulges in the tire – this shows a weak point in the tire and indicates a good failure point
- If you can see the fabric due to wear – means you are starting to compromise the integrity of the tire and time to change it out
- If you see a different colored rubber (this is a telltale sign of wear and indicates it is time to change out the tires)
- Are you getting flats more often than before (3 times in the last 3 months) – then it is time for new tires.
- Rotate your tires per the maintenance schedule every 6 months / 2000 miles – this is done to equalize the amount of wear on your tires to prolong the life overall.
- When you rotate your tires, clean out the tire with a damp and soapy wash cloth to remove any small stones that might have migrated under the tire.
The actions above are preventative maintenance, which are little actions that should extend the useful life of your tires (analogous to a stitch in time saves 9) and prevent flat tires. Since implementing this process, I have not had a flat tire in the last 2.5 years, so this works!
However, flats do ultimately occur and therefore you need to know how to change out a flat tire. Check out this article on fixing flats.
I hope that you adopt the preventative actions so that you can escape the in the dark tire changing events that I had to go through. Bike commuting is great, and you do need to do a little bit of preventative maintenance to avoid the pain I experienced and since I have adopted these actions, I too have eliminated the in the darkness tire changing events.
Let me know how this goes for you. Happy bike commuting 🙂
Proper Bike maintenance:
Riding a bike consistently means you have to invest a little bit of time weekly and monthly to ensure your bike is in top condition. If you find yourself riding in mud and rain than this maintenance list becomes even more important.
Weekly Maintenance Check:
- Check tire pressure and pump up as necessary. On the side of your tire is stated the recommended tire pressure. My current bike tires recommend 4-7 bar
- Check to make sure brakes are working well and adjust as necessary. To adjust, take the set screws and tighten if possible. If this is extended all the way out and no longer possible then you must actually use a tool on the lower brake unit at the tire. First, loosen the set screw at the brake all the way. Next, I use an Allen wrench and pliers to pull the cable tight. Pretty simple.
Monthly Maintenance Check:
- Clean bike. Turn the bike over, remove all the dirt and grim from the bottom of the bike using a soapy washcloth and warm water.
- Inspect bike for any loose parts and tighten as appropriate. It is important that you also look for bends, cracks, and other signs of imminent failure.
- Clean the Chain, chain sprockets and gearing. I personally like to use a chain scrubber. I use a simple mixture of water and soap to remove the large grime build up. Wipe down the chain with an oil rag to remove any of the grim that was not removed using the scrubber.
- Pay particular attention to the back sprockets and wipe down the dirt that builds up on them as well.
- Lube your bike chain now that it is completely cleaned up.
- Check brake pads – if you look at the brake pads they have the little grooves for dissipating heat while braking. I check to see the wear here and when the pads have ground down then I replace the brake pads. I do this myself.
- Open the brakes- each bike is different, but you need to open them up so you have room to remove the brake pads. On my own bike, I have a cotter pin per brake pad and remove this pin and then pull out the brake pad and replace with a new one.
- Once the brake pads are replaced, and then close up the brakes again. I find that I must loosen the cable, to properly close up the brakes.
Pro tip – make sure that your brake pads grab the back portion of the wheel first- so that the brake pads are pulled from the rotational force rather than pushed.
Half year Maintenance Check:
- Rotate your bike tires. I do this to equalize the bike tread wear. I find that the rear tire wears significantly faster than the front. If you do not do this, than your replacement costs go up and I want to ensure your biking costs are as low as possible.
- Remove both tires, deflate the tires and remove the tires. Clean the tires, clean and inspect the rubber tubes. Rebuild the rotated bike tires and then remount. This applies the same logic used on car tires and greatly extends the life of the tire tread. I have extended the life of my tires by a good 2 years using this maintenance trick.
I hope this list was useful for you. Bike maintenance is pretty simple, but it does need to be done to ensure a good and safe ride.
Let me know if you have any other comments or suggestions.