Bicycle Maintenance: Flat Repair / Tire Replacement
By: Paul Hughes
The easiest way to become stranded when riding a bicycle, whether that be a road or mountain bike, is to have a flat tire. The solution to this problem is simple provided you have the proper equipment and the knowhow to repair the flat.
In this article, we will look at the equipment needed to repair a bicycle flat. Through a video, you will also obtain the knowledge to be able to repair a flat. Please note, this article applies to clincher style tires and does not apply to tubular tires but most folks have clincher style tires on their bikes.
The necessary equipment includes a replacement tube, a set of tire levers, and a hand pump or CO2 cartridge inflation kit. These items, along with a bicycle multi-tool should always be in your bicycle equipment bag and that equipment bag should always be on your bicycle. If your luck is like mine, the first time you do not have your equipment bag will be when you have your first flat tire and it will probably be 95 degrees on top of that! J
It is also important to assure you have the proper type and size replacement tube for your bicycle. Carrying a spare tube is much better than trying to patch a tube with a repair kit and I think that is why they basically quit selling repair kits in the mid 80’s. You have probably have been riding a long time if you remember repair kits.
If you have never attempted to repair a flat, I would suggest practicing once at home while watching this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5K-DXt9djA . We have included a video because it is so much easier to learn by seeing someone replace a bad tube than to try to explain in words how to do it.
Another aspect related to tires is inspection of your tires regularly. This is particularly important on a road bike because the road bike tires are more susceptible to wear than are mountain bike tires. For example, locking up the brakes on a road bike usually results in a damaged tire and in some cases can destroy a road bike tire. If, during inspection, you notice badly worn spots, cracks, or flat spots, it is a good idea to replace the tire to prevent a potential catastrophic tire failure while riding. To replace the actual tire on a road bike, follow the same steps for replacing a tube, but after removing the tube, remove the entire tire from the rim. Then, put one side of the new tire on the rim using the tire levers and continue with the tube replacement as shown in the video. Here is an additional video, which shows exactly how to replace the tire and the tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4ZQMRT12Sg .
Flat repair and tire replacement are the most basic aspect of bicycle maintenance. Fixing a flat is pretty easy and if you ride more than a couple of miles away from home, it is a good thing to know how to do. Just remember, having the proper equipment is also a requirement and no rider should ever be without the equipment required to repair a flat. Finally, if you have the knowledge and the proper equipment you might run across a stranded rider one day and be able to offer assistance and provide a learning opportunity for them.