How to fix a puncture in 8 steps
Punctures are a fact of life. Being able to fix them out on the road means you can get back on your bike and keep riding without worrying.
Learning how to fix a puncture is an important skill for cycling. It means you can ride without worrying that you’re going to be caught out far from home.
You will need:
- Tyre levers
- A pump or CO2 inflator with CO2 canister
- An inner tube or patch kit
1. Take out your wheel
For most bikes, you’ll need to take the wheel out to remove the inner tube. For rear wheels, shift into the smallest sprocket on your cassette. If you have quick release wheels, undo the quick release on the skewer. For rim brake bikes, you’ll also need to undo the quick release for the brake so that you can take out the wheel.
If you don’t have quick release wheels (for example, if you’re on a fixed gear bike), you’ll need a spanner to undo your wheel nuts. They’re normally 15mm, so keep one of these handy.
2. Deflate the tyre
Once you’ve got the wheel out, let all of the air out of the tyre. Remove the dust cap if there is one. If you have Schraeder (car style) valves, press down the pin in the middle of the valve. For Presta (road bike style) valves, unscrew the locknut you see at the end of the valve and then press it in.
3. Remove the tyre on one side
To get to the inner tube, you’re going to need to take off one side of the tyre. Starting away from the valve, insert a tyre lever under the bead of the tyre and lever it out. You can hook this lever under a spoke to keep it in place. Move along the rim a few inches and do the same with a second tyre lever.
Once this is done, you should be able to run one of your tyre levers around between the bead of the tyre and the rim to remove one side.
4. Remove the tube and find the puncture
Take out the punctured inner tube. You’ll need to find the cause of the puncture – if there’s still something in your tyre, this will need to be removed or you’ll find yourself getting another puncture. Put some air into your tube and see if you can find the hole. If you can, note where it is in relation to the valve and check inside your tyre to see if you can find what caused the puncture. If there’s something still in the tyre like a thorn, a flint or a piece of glass, remove it!
If you can’t find the cause, feel around inside your tyre, taking care not to cut yourself on anything sharp.
5. Fix the puncture
Take your tube and rough up the area of the puncture slightly with some sandpaper – this’ll help the patch to stick. Then, add glue to the area, stick down your patch and wait a moment for the glue to dry. If you have self-adhesive patches, just apply it like a sticker. Make sure it’s air tight by putting a little bit of air into the tube.
Lots of riders prefer to carry a spare inner tube instead. This way, you just switch out your punctured tube with a fresh one, and worry about repairing it when you get home.
6. Replace the tube
Now you can put your tube into the tyre. Start by inserting the valve and tuck the tube into the tyre all the way around. Adding a small amount of air to the tube can help it hold its shape here.
7. Put your tyre back on
Starting near the valve, tuck the bead of your tyre back into the rim. Make sure your inner tube ends up inside the tyre and not trapped between the tyre bead and the rim. Work your way around with your thumbs and when it gets difficult, finish off by levering your tyre into place with your tyre levers.
8. Inflate your tyre
Put some air into your tyre and give it a quick check to make sure it’s seated properly. All good? Pump it up to your desired pressure and keep riding! You can use your CO2 to do this more quickly if you have it – just watch out for freezing your fingers.
Put your wheel back into your bike and don’t forget to do up your brake’s quick release if you had to undo it to clear the tyre.