This article is for:
  • beginners



PRECONDITIONS: You are able to take off your bike wheels, and put them back on. You need strong thumbs to refit the tyre.

TIME: 30 mins to fit a new inner tube.

DIFFICULTY: You need strong thumbs to refit the tyre.


1. Remove inner tube

2. Find the puncture and its cause

3. Patch the puncture

4. Fit inner tube


Carry spare inner tubes


1. Remove inner tube

insert the first tyre lever
Insert tyre lever to remove the wheel.

  • Remove wheel and deflate tyre: Remove the wheel. (Rear wheels can be tricky - shift up through the gears to get onto the smallest cog and then flip back the upper cog of derailleur back as you slide the wheel out of the frame). Deflate the inner tube (press down on the middle of the valve).

insert other tyre levers
Insert the levers under the bead, prise off one side of the tyre from the rim.

  • Prise off one side of tyre: Starting diametrically opposite the valve, insert the levers under the bead of the tyre and gradually prise off one side of the tyre from the rim. For the first 4 inches or so, insert the levers close together. Once the first 4 inches are off, the rest comes off easier.

pull out inner tube
Pull out inner tube valve first, then pull the whole inner tube out of the tyre.

  • Pull out inner tube: Push the valve of the inner tube up through the rim, and then pull the whole inner tube out of the tyre. Take care not to puncture the inner tube on sharp bits on the rim, or to pinch it between tyre levers.

2. Find the puncture and its cause

find bubbles
Immerse the inner tube in water to find puncture.

Find puncture: Inflate the inner tube, and listen for the 'hiss' of escaping air, or run your hands around the tube, and feel for its soft rush. If this fails, immerse the inflated tube in water and look for a trail of bubbles.

Can't find the puncture? It could be the valve, articularly if you had to ride on a completely flat tyre, or the tube is old or cheap.

Mark the location: Dry the tube and mark the puncture, for example, with some chalk.

Don't get another puncture for the same reason: This can happen when you fit the new inner tube. So,

  • Check tyre: visually check the tread of the tyre on the outside, and run your fingers round the inside - you might see or feel something sharp. Winkle out any offending object.
  • Check rim tape: Rim tape should shield the inner tube from sharp spoke ends, and rusty or damaged rims, but sometimes it doesn't. Replace the rim tape, and rub down anything sharp.

3. Patch the puncture

applying rubber solution
Spread the rubber cement around so that it covers a larger area than the patch.

  • Prepare tube: Clean and roughen the area around the puncture.

  • Add rubber: Apply a large blob of rubber cement. Spread the cement around, so that it covers an area slightly larger than patch. Wait for the solution to begin to dry and then add another blob.

a patch over a puncture
Stick the patch down all around the puncture and leave it to bond.

  • Apply patch: stick the patch down all around the puncture - no flapping edges to get caught. Leave it to bond.


4. Fit inner tube.

poke the valve back through the rim
To refit the inner tube, first insert the valve through the hole in the rim valve first

  • Replace tube: Press one bead of the tyre onto the wheel rim, so that one side of the tyre is on the wheel, but you still have access to the inside of the tyre. Slightly inflate the inner tube - enough to give it shape, but not firmness.

work around the wheel, fit the rest of the inner tube
Press tyre bead back onto rim

  • Then pass the valve of the inner tube through the hole in the rim. Working away from the valve and around the tyre, push the inner tube into the tyre, taking care not to twist or scratch the inner tube as you go.

use thumbs to replace bead of tyre
Strong thumbs are needed to press home the last few inches of tyre bead

Take care not to snag the inner tube inbetween rim and tyre. The last few inches of the tyre will become very stiff, but resist the temptation to use the tyre levers to lever the tyre back on - the inner tube is easily pinched between the two.


When the tyre is finally on, pat around it to make sure the inner tube and tyre are sitting comfortably on the rim. Then inflate to half pressure, before remounting the wheel ... you're FIXED! (Fully-inflated tyres may not fit through your brakes, even if you open them up)

Carry spare inner tubes

Punctures are best patched at home: At the side of the road, it is much easier to just fit a new inner tube. So:

  • Carry two spare inner tubes. In bad conditions, you can easily get several punctures in a couple of miles.
  • Check your spares fit your bike, and have the same type of valve as your pump (it happens!).
  • Carry a puncture repair kit, and, for the really safe, a tyre boot (a temporary skin to cover splits in the tyre)



responsive image
Properly inflated tyres feel secure on the road (see recommended pressure on side of tyre)