Closeup of a cyclist fixing a flat while out on the road.

Anyone who rides a bike frequently has experienced either a flat tyre, the desire to install new tyres, or both. Flats happen for a variety of reasons and your tyres will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, but the task of installing a new tube is a relatively simple one that anyone can learn to do on their own. With the right equipment and very basic knowledge, you’ll never have to worry about a pesky flat ending a great ride. Check out the video below to see how easy it is to master this essential skill.

Tube

Bicycle tubes go inside the tyre and feature either a Presta or Schrader valve. Be sure to carry one that is the right size for your tyres when you ride.

Shop tubes

Pump

Hand pumps, C02 pumps and floor pumps all work to re-inflate your tyre, but make sure that you have one that’s portable to carry with you when you ride.

Shop pumps

Step-by-step instructions

These instructions are for repairing a rear flat tyre. The process is the same for a front tyre, just slightly easier since you don’t have to deal with the chain and gearing while removing the wheel.

1. Keep the bike right side up, and shift the into the most difficult gear at the back (smallest cog).

2. If you have caliper (rim) brakes, use the lever on the side to loosen the brakes. If you have v-brakes, push both sides in to remove pressure from the brake cable, and disconnect it. If you have discs, skip this step.

3. Stand on the non-chain side of the bike and open the quick release. Hold the wheel down with one hand and lift up on the bike with the other. The wheel should easily come out as you tilt it away from the frame. Set the bike down on the non-chain side.

4. If your bike has thru-axles, you will need to unthread the axle until you can easily pull the entire axle out of the frame. Then the wheel can be easily removed.

5. Once the wheel is off the bike, start near a spoke and use the scooped end of your tyre lever to grab the edge of the tyre and work it over the edge of the rim. Attach the hooked end of the tyre lever to the nearest spoke.

6. A few inches away from the first tyre lever, use the scooped side of your second tyre lever to work more of the tyre over the edge. Once you have a few inches over the rim, work your way around the rest of the wheel to completely remove one side of the tyre from the rim.

7. Pull the old tube out of the tyre, beginning at the valve stem (the part where you connect a pump).

8. If you’re fixing a flat, check for the source of the flat before replacing the tube. Gently run your fingers through the inside of the tyre, feeling for anything sharp, and visually inspect the outside of the tyre for anything still stuck in the rubber. Remove anything that could immediately cause another flat. NOTE: Sometimes glass or other small sharp objects can cause a flat tyre. Run your fingers along the inside of the tyre very carefully.

9. Take your replacement tube, and inflate it with enough air to give it just a bit of shape. This will make it easier to place in the wheel.

10. Start back at the valve stem hole, insert the valve stem, and work your way around the tyre, tucking the tube under the entire way around.

11. Begin at the valve stem again, and use both thumbs to push the edge of the tyre back onto the rim. It will become more difficult as you get more of the tyre back inside the rim, but use your thumbs to tuck all of it under if possible. If the tyre is too tight, carefully use the scooped end of the tyre lever to press the rest of the tyre back inside the rim.

12. Check that the tube has not been pinched by the tyre by gently pushing the tyre to the side as you work your way around the rim and look for any obvious pinches.

13. Using your pump, re-inflate the tyre to the proper PSI. The flat is now fixed, and it’s time to get the wheel back onto the bike.

14. Make sure that the quick-release lever is on the opposite side of the chain, and use the end of the quick-release to move the bottom part of the chain out of the way. Lay the top of the chain around your smallest cog (hardest rear gear), and gently push the bike into place.

15. Close your quick-release lever, and close your brake if you have caliper or v-brakes.

16. If you have thru-axles, insert the axle through the frame and hub, and then thread it in and close the lever.

17. Lift the rear wheel and give the bike a quick pedal to ensure that everything is running smoothly.

18. Enjoy the rest of your ride.

A lay-down of the Bontrager tool roll that fits inside bikes with internal frame storage.

Now that you understand the process, remember to carry a spare tube, tyre levers and a pump with you whenever you ride. These items easily fit into jersey pocket or small backpack, and most bikes can quickly be equipped with a saddle bag or even a pump that attaches directly to the frame. If you’re looking to make the process even more convenient, consider purchasing a CO2 pump, which uses pressurised CO2 to fill a tube almost instantaneously. Whatever you do, be sure to teach your cycling friends this easy and essential skill whenever you have the chance.

Product Compare Rack

Start comparison
South Africa / English
You’re looking at the South Africa / English Trek Bicycle website. Don’t worry. We’ve all taken a wrong turn before. View your country’s Trek Bicycle website here.