How To Change a Bike Tire
It's an easy skill to master and an excellent project to teach your kids!
Less than $25
IntroductionFollow these simple steps for replacing a punctured bicycle tube. You can even fix the flat on the go if you have a spare tube, tire levers and a pump.
- Bike pump / tire inflator
- Tire levers
- New inner tube
Project step-by-step (5)
Remove the bike tire from rim
If you’re not sure how to take the wheels off your bike, check your owner’s manual or visit your local bike shop and ask someone on staff to show you how. Do this before you have a flat so you’ll be prepared.
In general, here’s how to do it:
Release the brake and loosen the axle nut so you can remove the wheel. Most bikes have a quick-release mechanism on the brakes and a quick-release lever on the axle. Removing the front wheel should be straightforward, but the rear wheel may take some maneuvering so the bike’s cassette clears the chain.
Changing an electric bike tire is similar to changing a normal bicycle tire. However, if your ebike has a hub motor instead of a mid-drive motor, check your owner’s manual to determine how to disconnect it.
After removing the wheel from the bike, take one edge, or bead, of the tire off the rim so you can remove the damaged tube. Pry under the tire bead with one of the tire levers and hook it to a spoke. Move over four to six inches and insert the other tire lever. Pry it down and slide it along the rim to release the tire.
Pull out the tube. (If the tire has a Presta valve, you’ll need to remove the nut on the stem.) Then remove the tire completely from the rim, put it around your neck like a necklace and turn it inside out while running your fingers along the inside to feel for sharp objects. Be careful, though — there could be metal or glass embedded in the tire.
Types of bike tire valves
When you go to buy a new tube, take the old tube with you and match the valve. Presta valves have a nut on a threaded shaft that seals the air in and must be loosened to inflate the tube. You’ll need a pump or tire inflator adapter that’s compatible with a Presta valve to inflate these tubes.
If you have Presta valves on your bike, keep a Presta-to-Schrader adapter with you at all times. That way you can use a gas-station air pump to inflate your tires.
Replace the bike tube
After checking the tire, put one bead back on the rim. Leave the other side loose so you can install the new or patched tube. Partially inflate the new or patched tube with a little air so it will hold its round shape, and insert the valve stem into the hole in the rim. Then work the tube into the tire.
Reinstall the bike tire
Press the bike tire back over the rim, being careful not to pinch the tube. If it’s too tight to push the last section by hand, use the tire levers to pry the bike tire onto the bike rim.
When the tire is completely installed, check all around on both sides to make sure the tube isn’t pinched between the tire and rim. To do this, push against the bead and look into the space between the tire and rim to be sure it’s clear.
Now you’re ready to fully inflate the tire. But there’s one last thing to watch for. Occasionally the bead may not seat properly on the rim, so stop before the tire inflates to full pressure and rotate the wheel while you inspect the area where the tire and rim meet.
If you see a spot where the bead isn’t seated in the rim, let a little air out and work the bead into the rim with your fingers. Then inflate the tire to the recommended tire pressure listed on the sidewall. Reinstall the wheel and spin it to make sure it’s centered between the brakes, established a connection with the bicycle chain (rear tire) and rotates freely.
If you’ve done an emergency repair using the CO2 cartridge, you may not have enough pressure. When you get home or to a bike shop or gas station, fill the tire completely.
Bike tire repair kit
If you don’t want to walk home after having a flat, assemble a tire repair kit like this. Be sure to include a tube, patch kit, air canisters and a few small bicycle tools.
A repair kit is one of the most valued bicycle accessories you’ll want. You can put it in a resealable plastic bag and tuck it in a knapsack, or buy a small pack that straps under your bicycle seat.