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How to Change a Bicycle Tube & Tire

So you’ve got yourself some new latex tubes, or you’re deciding to use training tires and competition tires, or you simply just got a flat tire. One way or another (unless you’re riding multiple wheelsets), this means you’ll have to know how to change a tire or tube.

We’ve decided to post our first tutorial video on this topic because it is probably the most basic task a recreational or competitive rider should know how to execute. If you’re more of a reading type, written instructions are provided below the video. So let’s get straight to it.

Removing the Wheel

I always recommend placing your chain on the smallest cog and smallest chainring such that the chain has the smallest distance to cover and therefore the most slack. This will also help you reinstalling the wheel since you’ll know your rear derailleur is aligned with your smallest cog. Next, you’ll have to disengage your brake calipers in order to make some room for the tire to come out. Generally speaking, Shimano equipped roadies will have the release mechanism on the calipers whereas many Campy roadies will have it on the inner side of the lever. If you have a cyclocross bike, then you have some cantilevers and the shorter, V-shaped cable should be easy to unhook off the caliper.

Once this is all done, time to open your quick release skewer, unscrew a few turn and your wheel should come straight off.

Removing Tire & Tube

Once you’ve got the presta valve nut off and that you’ve completely deflated the tube, hook both levers to the bead of the tire, opposite the valve and about 10-15 cm apart. This really depends on the tire and wheel used, so you might find that you’ll have to put them very close to one another for the tire to dismount. Once both levers are engaged, simultaneously push them downwards until the bead of the tire is lifted off the rim. Repeat this process around the tire until the first side is completely removed.

To remove the second bead of the tire, either remove the tube completely now or simply remove the section opposite to the valve. Pull the tire away from the hub and guide it off the rim. Once you have a section of the tire off the rim, push back towards the hub and the tire should completely dismount.

Inspection

Now that everything is removed, it’s a good time to make sure your tube and rim strip are in good condition; even if you didn’t get a flat tire. Change a tube if you notice it is worn out or has fold-over creases. Change a rim strip if you see it is weak, damaged or interferes with the tire beads. If you got a flat tire, use the following tube-hole-guide to help you out:

Cut at valve: The valve was misaligned in the valve hole and came out at an angle.
Large hole & torn vicinity: Blowout. Usually caused because of tire seating problems.
Hole on tire side of tube: Puncture. Check for embedded pieces of glass/sharp object.
Hole on rim strip side of tube: Rim strip failure or improper rim strip installation.
Two small side by side holes aka “snake bite”: Tube was pinched between tire and rim. Increase air pressure.

Installing Tire & Tube

First off, never use tools to reinstall a tire. Instead, bring all the tire slack in the same area to give you more play when pushing the bead back on the rim.

The first step is installing one bead of the tire on the rim. Make sure you install your tire in the right direction, and align the tire tag with the valve hole. Slightly inflate your tube such that it has a round shape and insert the valve in the rim’s valve hole. At this point, you’ll be doing three full circles starting at the valve: one circle to insert the tube in the tire, another circle to push the tube over on top of the rim and a third circle to push the second tire bead on the rim.

Don’t keep the last tire section to be mounted where the valve is. Also, when you’re starting to feel the second bead is getting harder to mount, completely deflate the tube and push on the tire to make sure no air at all is left in the tube.

This last step is optional but literally guarantees against a blowout: push the valve deep in the tire and pull it back out, thus making sure the tube was not squeezed between the rim and tire. For the same reason, push the tire bead over and take a look at your rim strip, all around the wheel and on both sides. If at any time you’re able to see your tube under the tire, restart the installation.

Installing the Wheel

The only difference between installing the rear and front wheel is that you’ll need to insert the cassette between both chain lines for the rear wheel, and then align the top chain with the smallest cog. In both cases, the next step is guiding the rim through your brake caliper and inserting the axle in the dropouts. Make sure your wheel is centered and tighten the skewer until closing resistance begins when the lever is aligned with the axle. Close the skewer lever with reasonable force, close your brake caliper and test the brakes to make sure everything is working fine. Shift back into a middle gear so that you don’t ride off on an extreme smallest-cog-smallest-chainring ratio, and you’re all done!

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