Step 1: Don't panic when you get a flat on your bicycle!

There's nothing more deflating than the sound of air escaping from an inner tube when you're riding along. So today, let's look at how to repair a puncture at the side of the road so you can continue your ride. So first things first, you want to make sure you're not on the carriageway or the road whatsoever. So get off that, get yourself on the pavement or at the entrance to a field, anything like that, so you are not in danger of any passing vehicles.

Step 2 : Remove the wheel where the flat is from your bike

First up, then, we want to remove the wheel from the bike, so that's the wheel with the offending puncture. And then once that wheel is out of the frame or the forks, you want to try and put the bike somewhere soft, or even if there's a fence close by, you could hook the handlebar over that to keep it upright. Alternatively, if there's nothing at all soft, I would actually probably advise, this is the only time I would say doing so, is turn the bike upside down so you're not going to risk damaging any carbon dropouts because a little bit of moisture in there sometimes can actually delaminate the carbon.

Step 3 : Patch the flat

Now to repair our punctured inner tube, we are going to need a few different tools. So I've got myself a CO2 canister, a pair of tire levers, and some glueless patches here. Of course, you can replace the whole inner tube if you so wish, but that's not necessary. They're environmentally friendly because, after all, rubber does grow on trees. And also in my back pocket I've got myself a mini pump too, because, well, you can run out of canisters, but you can never run out of air.

Take a closer look over the wheel, over the tire and try and find any foreign objects, which may have well have penetrated the tire and then gone into that inner tube and given that puncture. One of the reasons why we line up logos with valves is for the reason, if you do find something in the tire, when you remove the inner tube, you know roughly the distance away from the valve where to look in the inner tube for that hole. So now we've done that and we've got nothing in the tire. You do have to take some care and attention there, if it's little bit of glass or a thorn, you could well cut your finger. So it's best to do it visually first, and then if you do have a pair of gloves on or something like that, just see if anything gets trapped.

Step 4 : Use your tire leavers!

Then we want to remove half of the bead of the tire. There's no need to take the whole tire off, necessarily. So grab your tire levers and then it's simply a case of hooking it underneath one part of the bead and then the other one underneath and removing that side of the tire. Once the tire's off, you can remove that inner tube from the rim. Now you've removed the tube from the tire and the wheel. It's time to try and find out where that hole is. Now you could spend a lot of time looking at the actual tube itself, trying to find it, but generally holes, they tend to be about the size of a pin prick. And they're not that easy to find. So that's where either your mini pump comes in handy or alternatively even your mouth.

Now as gross as it sounds, you an in fact inflate a Presta-type valve by simply putting your lips around it and blowing it up. You're not going to get up to any sort of pressure, but you may well be able to get it up just enough pressure to find that hole. So this is why we are, in fact, going to use our mini pump, and this is the reason why I always advise taking a pump with you on your ride. Just to try and identify where that pesky puncture is. Now, this hole is absolutely tiny. I did in fact have to inflate the tube by quite a margin, as you can see and then the only way to actually finding it I had to hold it out to my face and I could feel just tiny little stream of air coming out of that. So, I got myself some sandpaper. I'm just going to rough up that surface, so that the self-adhesive patch I'd use will work.

Now before you go ahead and stick that self-adhesive patch onto the inner tube, make sure that the area where you are going to stick it has no grease or moisture on it, otherwise it's not going to do its job effectively. So once it is there, make sure, of course, you peel back it ever so carefully and you're not getting your fingerprints all over it, 'cause that could affect the adhesion too. Put it onto the actual tube itself, making sure that the offending hole is in the central most part of that patch. Now apply pressure onto the patch for about a minute so that it does stick as well as possible. At this point, don't be tempted to apply loads and loads of pressure into the inner tube, to try and check your handiwork because you wouldn't be the first person out there to do it. And the patch just come off, 'cause they do take a little bit of time just to well, have a really good joint with the inner tube itself. Now before we actually put the inner tube back inside of the carcass of the tire and the rim bed, we actually do want to put a small amount of air into the inner tube, just to give it a little bit of shape, so it doesn't get twisted or anything like that. And also it makes it just a little bit easier to put back inside.

Step 5 : Pump the bicycle tubes back up!

Put a few pumps of air in, nothing too much. Just enough to give it a little bit of shape. And then lock that valve down again. One final check to do before reinserting that inner tube is just to gently and carefully run your fingers around inside of that tire, trying to find the foreign object that may well have caused that puncture. It's not always going to be in there, but sometimes they do go through. Also, check the rim tapes too. Make sure that any spoke heads are fully covered up so the spoke nipples also. And also pay particular close attention around the valve because quite often if you got yourself an aluminum rim, they can become a little bit sharpened in there and just wear away. If you do have a puncture there around a valve, quite often they're very difficult to repair properly. This one though is all okay and we're ready to go ahead and fit that tube again. So in goes the valve.

I always do valve first. Some people out there like to finish with the valve. But I've always done it with the valve first and while I've done it for donkey's years now and it's simply a case of putting that inner tube inside
of the tire. What's important here is it doesn't become twisted or out of shape. That's why putting those initial few bits of air in, really do help. Once it's on, just check around the inside, in between the actual bead of the tire and the inside wall of the rim there. And make sure that none of the inner tube is poking out, because if it is, when it comes to putting in more and more pressure, that can quite often give you a pinch puncture and those look like a couple of snake bites, if you like. So two holes, pretty close apart, normally about a centimeter apart and that's just the impact of the bead and it's not allowing the tube to fully inflate, of course, is it? And this one, we're all okay. Inner tube fitted and not pinched. Now it's time to inflate that inner tube. So unscrew your locking nut there on the valve and either use a CO2 canister or a mini pump. Now I'm not lazy enough, to be honest, today, it's a beautiful day, to use the CO2 canister. So I'm going to use a mini pump.

Now I've got a handy little gauge on here too, so I know exactly how much pressure I'm putting in. The great thing about using a mini pump actually, in my opinion, something like this, although on a lot of CO2 canisters you can do the same, you can actually control how much air is going in and at the same time, make sure that nothing is getting trapped in between the tire and the side of the rim. Now once you have put a decent amount of pressure into the tire, normally around about 40 or 50 psi, you can have a look to make sure the tire is seated onto the rim okay. Now an easy way to do that is to use the side wall as an indicator. It should look the same all the way around, just above the braking surface or edge of the rim. Like it does on this one. If it's not, you can simply wrestle it into position, like so, with your thumbs. Its kind of like wiggling it, just allow it to pop into the right place. There's no harm in doing it.

Normally though, just as you inflate it, particularly at home with a Trent pump it would just find its natural position. But when we're out in the road, we don't have that luxury, necessarily, but it's just worth doing it as a precaution. Once you're happy that the tire is perfectly seated onto the rim, it's just a case of reinflating that inner tube to your desired pressure before reinserting it into your bike. The final piece of the jigsaw now is just to refit the wheel into position. Now I always like to do this without the bike being turned upside down. I see loads of people putting in wheels upside down and while my reason for not doing it is that you don't allow the bike to actually find it's natural place onto the axle of a wheel and also it's just not a natural thing to do, is it? Because the loop of the chain on the rear inter alia can often be quite confusing, because it's not in its logical place. So with all that aside then, let's put the wheel into position. And on this one here, I've got myself a through axle.

Step 6 : Get back on the road!

I'm going to use the built-in or removable tool if you like to actually torque that up correctly. There we are. How to fix a puncture on your bike at the side of the road. And you don't have to use brand new inner tubes. How good is that? And remember, if you still need help, feel free to give us a shout!

December 13, 2022 — Victor Tong

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