How to: Change a tube

You'll be back on the bike is no time flat with these handy hints about punctures

There are three certainties in any cyclist's life: death, taxes and punctures. 

Punctures are enough to leave anybody feeling flat. It doesn't matter what kind of tyres you have, or how well you look after your bike, you will over the course of your cycling life fall victim to a flat tyre. The 'hiss' of a tyre deflating is enough to make any cyclist cringe.

Help reduce the risk of punctures happening in the first place with our survival guide for one of life’s deflating scenarios.

Diagnosis

There are two primary causes for punctures—one that you can to some extent control and the other, less so.

The first is what’s known as a pinch flat.

This is usually a result of low tyre pressure, causing the tyre to compress when hitting a bump and pinching the tube against the rim. The damage will look like two thin slits in the tube which is why the pinch flat is often referred to as a ‘snakebite’.

How to avoid:

One way to avoid a pinch flat is to ensure you maintain correct tyre pressure. The psi is usually marked on the sidewall of your tyre. Your optimal pressure may depend on a range of different factors, including surface conditions, weather, tyre volume, your personal preferences for a harder or softer ride and your weight.

Let’s just focus on the last one for now. Simple solution: if you’re at the heavier end of the spectrum, inflate the tyre closer to the upper limit, as more weight presses the rim closer to the ground, increasing the risk of a pinch-flat. If you’re lighter, it’s safe to run the pressure towards the lower end of that range.  If the tyre is too firm, you may find the ride uncomfortably jarring, or potentially lose grip as the tyre will conform less the ground.

Bicycle inner tubes are made from a slightly porous material, so it’s normal to lose pressure over time. As such, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking tyre pressure regularly.

The other major cause of a flat tyre is an object puncture.

This is when something (whether it's glass or road debris) works its way through the tyre, pricking the tube and causing it to deflate.

This type of puncture is hard to avoid. The object puncture can be instantaneous, or a delayed process presenting a flat some way down the track—always, it seems, at a time of great inconvenience.

How to avoid:

Keep an eye on the condition of your tyres and every so often, deflate the tyre, and go around it picking out any fragments of glass. To prolong the life of your tyres, a dab of superglue on larger slits will help seal any holes.

Never leave home without …

  • Spare tube
  • Patch kit
  • Tyre levers
  • Pump or Co2 canisters

My tyre is flat. What do I do?

For a step-by-step run through for changing a tyre and patching a puncture, click here.

This simple how-to video will also show you how to get back on two wheels in no time flat.