How to change a bike tire… fast

Knowing how to change a bike tire or repair a flat is essential knowledge for anyone on a bike
February 11, 2014

Flat tires. Nothing is more irritating. Whether you’re in a race or just racing the clock to get to work, knowing how to change a bike tire or repair a flat (and having the right bike repair kit) is essential knowledge for anyone on a bike. So here’s our quick guide to how to change a bike tire quickly.

Essential kit for changing a tire:

  • Tire levers (or teaspoons if you're in a tight spot)
  • A spare tube
  • Pressurized CO2 cartridges – or a mini-pump
  • Patch kit (optional)


Method: How to change a bike tire

  1. Undo the brakes. Unless you have disc brakes, it helps to loosen the brake on the wheel you're changing – unhook cantilver brakes or look for a quick release lever on caliper brakes. If there's no quick release, and you're in too much of rush to unscrew the brake cable, you can try skipping this step and slide the wheel out without loosening the brakes – but once you've fixed the flat, don't forget to reattach the wheel before you inflate it.
  2. Free the wheel. Open your wheel's quick release lever and unscrew it until there is enough space to free the tire. A front tire will slide right out. A back tire takes more wiggling – start by shifting your chain onto the smallest ring, then give the tire a gentle push downwards and it will drop out.
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  4. Strip the tire. Insert the tire lever non-hook side down (or the bottom end of your teaspoon) in between the wheel rim and the tire. You’ll get more force pulling the lever towards your body than pushing away. Pull the lever all the way around the tire.
  5. Pull out the old tube. Be careful around the valve to avoid ripping – and make sure you keep one side of the tire inside the rim for quick reassembly.
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  7. Check for the culprit. Run your fingers around the inside of the tire to make sure nothing is poking through; glass, nails, etc. Careful! Whatever poked your tire may poke you! If you're planning on patching the hole, this can help you work out where the hole is without having to reinflate the tube – then simply follow the instructions on your patch kit, but don't forget to clean and roughen the surface before sticking.
  8. Insert the new (or patched) tube. Place the valve in first, then, without twisting the tube, place the tube inside the rim, underneath the tire. As you place the tube, pull the tire back over the tube and into the rim, careful not to pinch the new tube underneath the tire.
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  10. Use your muscles. Closing off the last few inches of tire will be tough! Grab the wheel with both hands, palms facing away, and thumbs facing each other (like a sideways thumbs up). Rotate your hands away from your body, using your thumbs to push, push, push!
  11. Inflate. If your carbon doesn’t have flow control, you get one shot. If you have flow control or a hand pump, take a listen before you bother to fill it all the way up. Hear anything leaking? If so, your patch may have lifted or you could have pinched a hole in the tube.
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  13. Good to go. Fill your tire to the recommended pressure. Even though you’ve got somewhere to be, don’t forget to securely close your brakes and quick release before taking off. Stash your old tube – you can always patch it later – along with your packaging and levers, and you’re off!Pro tips - changing a flat tire

Pro tips - fixing a flat tire

  • It's easier to place the new tube inside your rim if it has some shape to it. Give it a quick puff (like you are blowing up a balloon) to get a tiny bit of air into it.
  • Keep latex gloves stashed in your bike kit during the winter months. Taking your warm riding gloves off to change a flat in icy weather is miserable. The latex gloves provide a surprisingly effective layer of insulation but keep your fingers nimble as your change the flat.
  • Different sized tires require different sized tubes. If you switch between multiple bikes with different sized tires, invest in a seat bag and kit for each bike. The extra money will be worth it to avoid a mix-up that leaves you stranded.
  • The more you practice, the easier it will get. On a lazy Sunday, get a beer and a wheel and practice, practice, practice.

So now we've shown you how to change a bike tire fast, you can venture out on two wheels with confidence. Happy riding!

  • Jose Valdez

    Did not realise that it was that easy. Nice article

    • rogerbarrmediablaze

      Its very handy, will save you a lot of time one day :)

  • Greg

    This is the dumbest article. The title implies they are going to tell us something NEW; instead they just describe how to change a bike tire. It is anything but easy. It’s not HARD, but it’s certainly not quick, getting the tire off the rim is a pain. Patching isn’t hard, but finding the hole might be–it’s a lot more sensible just to carry an extra tube with you. And reseating the tube and getting the tire back on the rim without pinching the tube is anything but easy. And getting the tube off the rim without breaking your levers takes practice. And it doesn’t mention the most important tip of all–partially inflate the tube before putting it back in the tire and the tire on the rim! That makes a HUGE difference!

    “How to repair flat tire,” great, no problem. “How to change a bike tire . . . fast”? It’s an outright lie.

    • Cody Tallai Lennon

      As a mechanic… the rate at which a person changes a bike tire is totally dependent upon the experience of the person changing the tire. Granted, some beads do fit tighter than others, making it a little more difficult to change and more prone to pinching. However, to the inexperienced DIY-er this saves a trip to your local bike shop which saves TIME and money.

      • redmanrt

        Do NOT hurry.

  • redmanrt

    After inserting the new or patched inner tube and shoving the bead back onto the rim, partially inflate and check all the way around for the tube being pinched between the rim and the bead. If you discover a pinch, do not push in the tube with a tool. Deflate and try again. When you find no pinch, then inflate to full pressure. Then check to see if the beads are properly seated. If not, partially deflate, push the bead in with your thumbs. Reinflate to full pressure and put your ear and/or wet finger to the tire to check for leagage. If still no problem discovered, then you’re on your way. Always carry a spare NEW inner tube.


Annie Bertucio

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