So you were riding down the road on a crisp flat trail, the wind is hitting your face and you’re just about to reach your new personal distance record when you start to feel yourself slow down. The handle bars start to shake under your hands and as you look down, you see you have a flat tire. There you are 30 miles away from home and with a flat tire. Luckly, you read this article a few days back and know exactly what to do.
-Let’s get into it…
The first thing you need to do when you get a flat tire is STOP. Find a safe spot to stop your bike and check the damage. Do not continue to ride on a flat tire, this will only make replacing your tire more difficult and more expensive down the line. Now that you are safe and have come to a stop let’s talk some basic bicycle knowledge.
How to find your tire size?
Much like in a car, your bicycle has tire information printed along the sidewall of the tire. If you look closely, there should be a two number combination that should look something like this “ 24 x 1.95”. In this case, the 24 is the diameter of the tire, and the 1.95 is the width of the tire; together they make up your tire/tube size. This information is very important as it will let you, or your local bike shop, know the size of the tube your specific tire will need. Note that a variety of tubes may cover your tire size, that is why it is very important to note the tire size itself and not the tube size for future reference.
How to identify your bike’s correct valve stem?
One thing to consider is that the right tube size is not enough information to get the correct tube. The other crucial part is knowing what kind of valve your rim takes. The best way to find this out is to bring the old tube with you to the shop.
If you are doing the change yourself though, look for ridges at the top of the valve the Presta valve should have a manual lock and unlock that will let air come in and out of the tube. The Schrader valve should look flat at the top with no manual mechanisms. This last one is the most common valve type.
Once you figure out what valve you have then you can measure the length of the valve in order to make sure the valve will be long enough to go through your rim with room for pumping.
On the go flat tire kit must haves:
For all rides, specially solo rides, we recommend that cyclists carry a tire kit with them. In this tire kit you should have, a hand pump or CO2 cartridge, your bike’s new and correct tube, and a tire lever to help get the tire off and the rim.
Steps to fix a flat:
- Change gears to the lowest gear.
- Flip your bike upside down, so that the bike is stabilized on the handlebars and seat. This will let you work on the tires with both hands.
- Detach the break line
- Lift the tire off of the hinge. ( if working on back tire gently remove the chain from the tire)
- Use the tire lever around the perimeter of the rim to remove one side of the tire.
- Replace old tube with new tube.
- Use your hands to put tire and tube into rim.
- Place the tire back into the hinge. ( move chain back into the gear then place the tire into the dropout, for back tire)
- Attach brake line.
- Pump the tire to the correct PSI ( printed on tire sidewall).
- Discard of old tube safely, or take with you to purchase a new replacement in the future.
So there you go, you have just performed your own flat tire change. Now you can get back on the saddle and finish those last miles.
To watch a detailed ‘how to change a back flat tire,’ please refer to the video below:
Hope to see you out there!