How to Replace a Bicycle Tire

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If you like to ride your bicycle, then sooner or later you will need to fix a flat or change (replace) the bicycle tire. First, turn your bike upside down balanced on its seat and handlebars.

Steps

  1. Loosen the nuts that hold the axle to the frame. If they are extremely tight, spray some lubricant on the nuts - a silicone lubricant or even vegetable oil will do the trick. (Many modern bikes will not have nuts. They have a quick-release which you can easily loosen and remove the wheel).
  2. Take the wheel out of the frame. If it is the rear wheel, you will need to lift the chain clear of the gear cluster. To ease the removal of a rear wheel, shift the chain to the smallest gear on the wheel before loosening the skewer or nuts. If it is the front wheel, that one will be a little easier. You may also need to release the brakes if they interfere with wheel removal.
  3. Deflate the tube completely by pressing down on the inner part of the valve.
  4. Take a couple of tire levers (you can purchase these at your local bike/outdoor store). You can use the handle of a spoon or similar object if you do not have tire levers but be very careful, as you risk scratching or damaging the rims of the wheel and/or puncturing the inner tube. Ease one lever in under the wheel rim and lever out the edge of the tire (taking great care not to puncture the inner tube) and pry it up over the wheel rim. Move around the rim about an eighth of the circumference and repeat the process again, leaving the first tool in place. Now zip the second lever around the wheel and the tire should come right off on one side.
  5. Remove the wheel and tube completely - you may need to unscrew a small nut at the base of the valve stem to take out the inner tube if you use presta valves, which are found on high end bikes, usually not BMX bicycles. Nearly all road bikes come with presta valves.
  6. Either patch or replace the inner tube; or put on your new tire.
  7. Check the tire wall for an arrow or similar to indicate the direction of rotation - some tires have a "direction specific" tread pattern.
  8. Put one side in first, then ease the partially inflated tube into the tire and locate the valve in the hole in the rim.
  9. Make sure that no part of the tube is sticking out.
  10. Starting at the tire edge closest to the valve, use your thumbs to work the other side of tire over the rim and into well. You may need to use the same tool you took it off with to do the very last bit and pop it back onto the wheel.
  11. Before inflating, use your thumbs again to ease the tire from the rim all around the circumference, peeking in to make sure that the tire is not pinching any part of the tube against the rim. When you inflate the tube, if it is pinching, it will pop, and you will have to repeat the entire process, and buy a new tube.
  12. Inflate the tube slowly and carefully at first, all the time checking to make sure the tire is on evenly and there is no "pinching".
  13. You are now ready to put the wheel back on the bike.
  14. Happy bike riding!

Video

Flat tires are inevitable, so it is important to be prepared. Learn some tricks that will simplify the process and save you time.

Tips

  • Before adding any air to your inner tube or placing it in the tire do the following:
    1. Place approximately a 1/4 cup of baby powder in a 1 gallon, closeable freezer bag.
    2. Place deflated inner tube in the freezer bag and seal the opening.
    3. Shake the bag for 10-15 seconds so that baby powder covers the inner tube.
    4. Carefully open the bag and remove the inner tube, shaking the tube gently in the process to remove excess baby powder
    5. Seal the bag, removing excess air, and store for future use.
    • This process helps the tube slide inside the tire as you initially inflate it thereby helping to prevent pinch flats.
  • You can wait to fully inflate the tire until after it is on the bike - making it is easier to get it back in through the brakes.

Warnings

  • If you are refitting your tire after a puncture, carefully check inside the tire (under the tread) with your fingers - the thorn, nail or whatever may still be in the tire and will puncture your new tube as soon as you inflate it! If it is, carefully remove it.
  • Be careful not to puncture the inner tube while taking off or putting tire back on.
  • Do not over inflate as you will blow out your inner tube. See the recommended pressure listed on your tire wall.
  • Make sure that if you rims are drilled for presta valves, you use those tubes instead of schrader, they will not fit!
  • Do not get any sort of oil on the brakes or brake surfaces. Avoid getting oil on the tires or tubes, too, since oil can cause rubber to decay.
  • If your bike has a quick release on the back wheel be very careful with the axle. Handle it carefully and put it where it will not get stood upon while you are changing the tire. A slight bend will mean buying a whole new axle.

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