How To Fix A Bicycle Puncture

How to fix a puncture. What to do if your bicycle tyre bursts.

In this day and age, with global warming a major concern and gas emissions at an all-time high, more and more people are leaving their cars at home and getting on their bikes. Whether it is to cycle into work or just for pleasure, cycling is great for the environment and has many health benefits. There is one drawback though, one that has cause many cyclists to 'lose the plot'. A flat tire. 

With a car, at least there is the benefit of having a spare tyre handily enclosed within the boot but when on a bicycle there is no where to put it. Some may say that it is easy enough to cart one about with you, over your shoulders, but do you really want to be doing that every time you take the bicycle out just on the off-chance you get a puncture? Probably not, help is at hand though. An essential piece of kit that a cyclist should always take with them is a puncture repair kit. They are small enough to be carried easily and useful enough to allow you to carry on cycling after a puncture. Don't forget to also have a bicycle pump with you (usually come as standard with modern bicycles, handily clipped onto the inside of the frame), without this you won't be able to blow the tyre up again.

A normal puncture repair kit should include the following:

  • Different sized patches.
  • Vulcanizing glue.
  • 2 or 3 tyre levers.
  • Chalk.
  • Pencil (or crayon)
  • Sandpaper.

(Above: A typical bicycle puncture repair kit.)

So, there you are, cycling along to where ever you want to go and your tyre gets a puncture. You take your puncture repair kit out of your bag (or pocket), now you need to know how it all works, to get you back on the road. The best thing to do at this point; is to turn your bicycle upside-down so the handle-bars and saddle are resting on the ground and your bicycle won't fall over. Most modern bikes have quick release bolts on the wheels so there is no need to have some kind of 'key' to remove the wheel. After removing the wheel bolt, make sure to also remove the break calipers as well. Once this is done, the wheel will come away from the bicycle easily. Now you can start to repair the puncture.

  • To release any left over air from the punctured tyre, undo the valve nut.
  • To remove the tyre from the rim, use the tyre levers - but be careful as to not damage the valve.
  • Once the tyre has been removed, carefully check it for any small twigs, or nails, or thorns or any other foreign object# that may have caused the puncture. If found, remove!
  • Take the inner tube and have a look to see where the puncture is. Sometimes it may be hard to spot it but there are ways round that. Pumping some air back into the tube and listening for where it escapes is one. The second is to submerge the tyre into water and see where bubbles are coming from. Once you have found the puncture, circle it with the pencil.
  • Using the sandpaper, lightly rub it over the area where the puncture is. This will help to make a grip for the glue.
  • Spread a little bit of the glue around the puncture area (and over it). It is best to leave it for a minute or so, so the glue can become slightly 'tacky'.
  • During the minute while you are waiting for the glue to become 'tacky', find a patch that is the right size to cover the puncture. Place the patch over the hole and press firmly for 30 seconds (or more). Try to ensure the patch covers the whole puncture comfortably and smooth it out so as to make sure there is no air trapped underneath.
  • Use the chalk to rub over the whole area of the new patch, as this will stop it sticking to the tyre if there is any glue seepage.
  • Replace the tyre back onto the wheel rim (pumping a little air into first may help) making sure to place the valve in to the right place. Carefully run your hands all the way round, making sure the tube goes into the rim correctly and there are no creases or twists.
  • Once the tube is in place, it is time to get the tyre back on. Although you should be able to do this quite easily with just your fingers, if you find yourself struggling to get the tyre back over the rim, the tyre levers are there at your disposal.
  • Once the tyre is back on and you are satisfied, pump air into the valve until the tyre feels firm.
  • Refit the wheel back onto the bicycle by reversing the process to remove it (don't forget to re-add the brakes).

There you have it, if you have followed all of those instructions your puncture will be fully repaired and your bicycle will be good to go. You will now be able to continue on your journey safe in the knowledge that if you get a puncture again you are fully equipped to fix it again.

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Val Mills
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Posted on Feb 17, 2010
thestickman
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Posted on Nov 25, 2009