How To Fix A Flat Tire
Drag out the tire lever, patch kit, pump and the emergency chocolate power bar. You're going to be here awhile. Disgruntling at best, dangerous at worst, flat tires are the number one plague for bicyclists. Like allergies in summer, they seem an inescapable evil of bicycling.
Of course the best solution is not to have the flat in the first place. By equipping your tires with Mr. Tuffy Tire Liners before you ride, you can avoid puncture flats altogether (ask your local bike dealer). If you haven't invested in an ounce of prevention or if the elements (i.e., thorns, glass, potholes) just aren't aligned for your everlasting peace and happiness, a flat tire may be in the stars. So whaddaya do?
First, don't get stuck. One Arizona biker had ridden an hour into the desert when he got a flat. By the time he fixed it, he was nearly dehydrated. And that was with the right equipment. Imagine the scenario if he hadn't been prepared. So, unless you travel with a cellular phone with reliable batteries, make sure you carry a kit of everything you'll need to fix a flat yourself. Fixing a flat isn't difficult - although a trial run isn't a bad idea. Just follow these steps:
Insert a tire lever (preferably plastic or nylon) under the bead of the tire. One end of the lever is for prying the tire off the rim; the other end should be hooked around a spoke. This leaves your hands free, so you can...
Insert a second tire lever under the bead and carefully pull it around the rim. The tire will pop off when the two levers are a foot apart. Now pull the inner tube out of the tire.
Trace the hole to the tube and match it to the tire, and inspect the inside for foreign objects. Always locate the cause of the flat. A nail will be relatively easy to see, but thorns or small glass slivers will be more difficult. To locate those, remove the tire and spread out the edges. Look at the underside of the tire to find where it was cut or punctured. Inspecting the underside will also give you an idea of the overall state of the tire and indicate whether it needs to be replaced.
Pump up the tube and listen for the air leak to find the hole. Before patching the tube, rough up the rubber with sandpaper to ensure a tight patch.
Spread the glue in even drops around the hole, making the glued area bigger than the patch. Apply the patch to the glue and let it dry. When the glue is dry, press the patch firmly onto the tube, especially around the edges. Peel the foil off the back of the patch.
Replace the tube in the tire, taking care to insert the stem correctly. Pump a few pounds of air in the tube to prevent pinching, then put the bead of the tire back into the rim. Put the right and left sides in simultaneously, using a firm grip to pop in the last four inches. If you can't get the tire to seal, slip the tire lever under the bead - not too far - and pry the tire over the rim.
Finish pumping up the tire.
Ride to the Bike Shop and purchase a pair of Mr. Tuffy Tire Liners and RIDE FLAT FREE!