Being able to change a flat tire is a necessary skill to have if you want to ride your bicycle outside (unless you are a professional and have a full-time team car following you, of course).  Changing a bicycle tube for the first time can be an extremely frustrating experience for a new cyclist, but with some helpful tips and tricks it won’t be AS bad.  Just like anything else though, the more practice you get, the better you will be.  So, for the uninitiated, I suggest practicing this skill in the comfort of your home before venturing out and risking having a flat tire!

Changing a Flat Tire:

1. Remove the wheel from the bicycle and set the bicycle on its side DRIVETRAIN UP.

If the rear wheel is flat, before you remove the wheel, shift to the smallest (hardest) gear.  This will make putting the wheel back onto the bike much easier as you know what gear to line the chain up with.

2. Separate the bead of the tire from the rim with your hands.

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Doing this will allow your tire level to get in between the tire bead and rim far easier.

3. Insert the tire lever between the bead and rim.

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Once the lever is between the bead and rim, push the lever down to expose the tire bead over the rim.  I suggest placing the tire lever OPPOSITE from the valve stem, the tire will be easier to remove for subsequent steps.

4. Remove one side of the tire bead from the rim.

This part takes loads of practice to get right, so do not get frustrated with yourself if it doesn’t go as smoothly for you.  Notice my hand grip on the lever, what the angle of the lever is, and how I keep the head of the lever perpendicular to the rim surface.

5. Remove the inner tube.

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Again, do this starting OPPOSITE from the valve stem.

6. Remove the valve stem from the rim.

Expose the valve stem completely by rolling the tire over and then pull the valve stem STRAIGHT UP for removal.

7. Insert the new tube and reseat the tire bead.

Now we start AT the valve stem and work away from it.  Notice how I keep one hand at the valve stem and work my other hand away from it.  This keeps the tire bead seated.  Do this process all around the tire until you get to the last few inches…

8. Roll the last bit of tire bead onto the rim.

WARNING!  You are going to spend about 20 minutes doing this last step the first time you change a tire.  DO NOT use tools here as you run the risk of puncturing your fresh new tube.  Use the palms of your hands to roll the tire bead onto the rim surface, using the wheel itself for leverage.  Notice my hand placement and how I work the tire onto the rim with my PALMS not my THUMBS.  Then, once the tire is seated, do a quick once over and roll the tube further into the tire to prevent any tube sticking out of the tire.

9. Reinflate the tube.

10. GET RIDING AGAIN!

About the Author Shayne Gaffney

Shayne holds a bachelors degree in biology, is a USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport Certified, and a Category 3 road and cyclocross racer. He is the owner of GC Coaching and the creator and director of P2 Cycling. He can be contacted directly via info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

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