Mending a bike puncture

As hard as you may try, sooner or later you will get a puncture - typically when you are a long way from civilisation.

It is well worth practicing a couple of times at home, so that when you are caught out:

  1. you can be sure of your abilities to mend the puncture quickly and efficiently
  2. you will be confident that you have all the necessary tools in your bike bag.

Note: if you don't practice at home because you don't have the time - then all the more reason to practice! Changing the tube should only take a few minutes and if you expect it to take a long time you are doing something wrong...

We strongly recommend that you always carry a spare inner-tube (or two) with you when cycling, because finding a small puncture and repairing it is much more time consuming and difficult than simply changing the tube. But you should also have some glue and a few patches with you in case the new inner tube also promptly bursts, which can easily happen if you have failed to identify the cause for the first puncture.

Hence you will need:

  • tyre levers - two is possible, three is better; plastic tyre levers are usually better than metal because they are less likely to cause further punctures as put the tyre back into place
  • a spare inner tube or a puncture repair kit
  • pump

The procedure for mending a puncture

  • Take the wheel with the puncture off the bike
  • The tyre is probably already completely flat, but if not release any remaining air in the inner tube
  • Insert a tyre lever under the rim of the tyre then pull it back to clip on to a spoke
  • Insert a second tyre lever about 10-15 centimetres distant from the first and also pull it back to clip on to a spoke, or slide it around between the wheel and the tyre. The tyre will come off the wheel fairly easily.
  • Remove the inner tube, and if necessary repair the puncture
  • Check the inside of the tyre very carefully for grit or any object that might have caused the puncture. Also check the ribbon that covers the end of the spokes - if this has become displaced, the end of a spoke might have come in contact with the inner tube, which can cause a puncture
  • When you are confident there is no reason for a puncture to recur, place the new / repaired inner-tube back in place - this is easier if the innertube is slightly inflated.
  • Replace the tyre, using the tyre levers if necessary for the last section - be very careful not to 'pinch' the innertube against the wheel when you do this.
  • The part of the tyre around the valve might need extra attention - push gently on the valve so that the innertube is held a little way off the wheel, such that the tyre can correctly move into position against the wheel rim without trapping the tube.
  • Put the wheel back in place on the bike and reinflate to the correct pressure (you can inflate the tyre before putting it back on the bike, to be sure all is well, but the tyre may then not fit easily back into place because it will have to pass the brake blocks).

All should now be well! If you are in the middle of the countryside you'll find out shortly if there were any problems. If you are at home it is probably sensibe to cycle a few hundred metres just to check all seems fine.