How To Change A Bike Tire

Need to know how to change a bike tire? If you have never had a flat tire, consider yourself lucky. The only thing worse than getting a flat is having to ask someone else to fix it for you. Even the novice cyclist should know how to change their own bike tire.  Your bicycle wheel typically consists of three parts: the rim, the tube, and the tire. The "bead" refers to the edge of the tire and is usually made of strong steel wire. The beads are what hold the tire onto the rim. If you get a flat it is because something pinched or punctured the tube. All cyclists should carry a spare tube when riding and a hand pump or a CO2 cartridge to re-inflate the new tire.

To change a bike tire you will need:

  • 1 spare tube
  • Strong fingers
  • 1 hand pump or CO2 cartridge
  • 1 tire lever (optional)


To change a bike tire:

  1. Find the culprit. Before you start removing the tire, find out what caused the flat in the first place. Look with your eyes and not your hands. There is very likely a piece of glass or rusty nail hanging out of your tire and this is not a time to check and see if that tetanus booster is working. Look for tears in the tire. If the casing, the material under the rubber, is damaged, your tire is not repairable. Also be sure to check the rim for cracks or broken spokes. If either the casing or rim is damaged, do not bother trying to change the tube. Just call someone to pick you up.
  2. Remove the wheel from your bike. This step is pretty self-explanatory. Loosen the bolt holding on the front tire, release the breaks and just pop the tire off.
  3. Deflate the tire completely. The tire is held in the rim mostly by air pressure. When the tire is only partially deflated, the condition you will typically find it in if you have a flat, it is very difficult to stretch the bead wire over the edge of the rim. To remove the tire more easily, fully deflate the tire and pinch the edges of the tire together just above the rim using your thumb and index finger. If you do this around the tire and use a little muscle the tire should come free of the rim.
  4. Pull the tire off of the rim. Use your beastly fingers or a tire lever to pry the tire off of the rim one side at a time. Start at the far opposite end of the tire from the air valve stem. Once you have one bead completely over the rim, grab it and pull it off of the rim with your hands.
  5. Partially inflate the new tube. Brand new, deflated tire tubes are a pain to work with. Use your hand pump to inflate the tube just enough to round it out before inserting it into the tire. This will make it easier to get the tube into place and prevent it from getting pinched underneath the bead of the tire, which could cause a blow out.
  6. Put the tire back on by placing the valve in the hole first, but do not pull it all the way through. Continue by placing one bead wire on the rim, all the way around. Make sure to place the valve through the hole. Starting at the stem, pull the second bead on. This might prove a little harder than the first one, but try not to use tools to put the tire back on as you will likely damage the new tube. Just wrestle it on there with your fingers or let a little bit of air out of the tube. 
  7. Inflate the tire. Slowly start to inflate the tire, always checking to make sure that the tire is seated properly on the rim and there are no large bulges or abnormalities. Once the tire is fully inflated, get your spandex-wearing self back on the bike and ride.
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