One of the many skills you develop as a cyclist is the ability to fix punctures. Ask any experienced cyclist and they’ll tell you that punctures are only a minor inconvenience faced by riders. Punctures are inevitable, and are bound to take place at some point in time. Puncture fixing as a skill seems intimidating but is actually very easy to deal with. We’re going to tell you how to avoid them and how to fix one in case it happens.
HOW TO AVOID PUNCTURES
- Keep your tires inflated to specifications (mentioned on tire sidewall).
- Replace tires once bald.
- Invest in high quality tubes and tires.
- Avoid riding through bad terrain
While all these tips will help keep punctures at bay, there’s no sure shot way of avoiding punctures completely. Since they’re a common occurrence you might as well equip yourself with the knowledge on how to fix them.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Patch kit
- Tire leavers
- Spare tube
It’s not a complex procedure. probably the hardest part of fixing a puncture is remove the tire and tube off the wheel and reinstalling it. With a bit of practice, you can master that too.
Why don’t you grab the required items mentioned above and dedicate 15 minutes to fixing an imaginary puncture with us. That way, when a puncture does come your way you won’t have to struggle too much.
FIXING A FLAT IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS
The easiest way to work on a bike, especially when you need to take wheels off is to turn the bike upside down.
To work effectively on the puncture you need to take the affected wheel off. Do this by first opening the cam action quick release levers.
If you have rim brakes, you’re going to want to first disengage the caliper (shown above). If you have disc brakes you don’t have to do anything more than open the quick release skewer or thru axle to remove the wheel from the frame.
Shift into the smallest cog at the rear of your drivetrain. This will make it easier to get the rear wheel off as it loosens tension on the drivetrain.
Now that you have the wheel off you can begin to take out the tube. Take off the valve cap and unscrew the valve retaining nut -the round ring siting against the rim (if there is one). Push the end of the valve to fully deflate the tube if it’s not already empty of air. This only applies to a bike with a Presta valve.
If you have a Schrader valve, simply open the valve cap and depress the valve pin to remove air from the tube.
Now use your tire levers to pry the tire bead off the rim. Pull the tire away from the rim using the tire lever, one at a time.
Check the outside of the tire for any clear causes of the puncture. If you see any debris stuck in the outside of the rubber, remove it and make a mental note of where it is in relation to the valve. At this point you should be able to remove the tire completely without the need for a tire lever. Simply remove it with your hands.
Now that the tube is out you will have to access the damage done and take a call. Either to patch the tube or replace the tube. The latter is easier and less time consuming. If however you do have the time, it’s a good idea to fix the flat and carry on riding.
MENDING A TUBE
- Use your patch kit here. Identify the puncture by pumping in some air and listing or feeling for the hole in the tube.
- Mark the hole out and start scrubbing around it and on it with the sand paper from the patch kit.
- Evenly rough it out so that the patch sticks. Be gentle.
- Apply a pea sized amount of rubber cement on the sanded area of the tube and begin rubbing it in.
- Now wait for a few seconds and apply the patch directly over the punctured area.
That’s it, the tube is now mended. Keep applying some pressure on the patch for a while so that it does not come off later.
Inflate the (patched or replacement) inner tube slightly so it just becomes round in shape. This helps to prevent it from pinching against the rim when you put it back in (happens a lot).
Refit the tire on one side. Make sure the tread is pointing the right way — some tires have arrows on the sidewall indicating the ‘direction of travel’.
Put the valve in the valve hole, and feed the inner tube into the space between the tire and the wheel rim. Be gentle and make sure you don’t twist and turn the tube.
When the inner tube is all in, twist the tire back into place, starting at the valve.
TOP TIP – Try to finish directly across from the valve as the tire will be looser there
You can use tire levers to help with the last section, where the tire is tightest – but if possible avoid the use of levers as they can pinch the tube and cause you to have to start all over again.
Pump up the tIre to the correct pressure and refit the wheel into the bike securely. If you have mended a rear wheel puncture, get someone to hold the bike up, and go through the gears. Check that the wheel spins freely and the brakes work correctly. Don’t forget to reattach the brakes.
Fixing punctures is easy and once you practice it again and again you’ll be able to do it blindfolded. Inner tubes can be quite expensive, and they’re easy to fix so it’s a good idea to mend them instead of simply replacing one and chucking the old rubber. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep spares – always carry spares.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010