Excited to take advantage of the crisp winter air with a bike ride? Before taking on the roads, make sure you’re prepared in case something doesn’t go to plan. For inexperienced cyclists, fixing a puncture can be a daunting prospect. So, here’s Cycleplan’s simple guide to fixing a puncture – saving you both time and money.
How to tell if you have a puncture:
If your tyres begin to sag immediately after inflating, you’ve more than likely got a puncture:
- Most road bikes have quick-release wheels, making it easy to remove the wheel from the frame without any tools.
- Once you’ve done this, make sure the remaining air has been released from the tyre by undoing the tyre valve.
- Grab the wheel on the opposite side to the valve, and insert the flat end of a tyre lever into the gap, then attach the hooked end of the lever onto the wheel spoke.
- Move the tyre around about 4-5 inches and do the same again with a second lever, working your way around the tyre using two or three levers.
Next, remove the inner tube and check inside to make sure whatever caused the puncture – a piece of rock, glass shard etc – is removed.
Now the inner tube is off, you have to decide if you need to patch or replace the tube. If the hole is big (a blowout) or the valve is torn away from the tube, then you must replace it. If you’re out riding then it is much easier to change the tube – so always travel with a spare inner tube, just in case. But, if it’s a small hole then a patch will do.
If you’re patching:
- Find where the puncture is by listening/feeling for air and mark the hole.
- Roughen the area around the hole with sandpaper, then stick on the patch and apply pressure for at least 60 seconds.
- Put a small amount of air in the tube, put it back into the wheel, then put the tyre back over the wheel rim.
- Pump the tyre back up to the correct pressure and put the wheel back on your bike.
If you’re replacing the tube completely:
- Take the new inner tube and inflate it about halfway until it has some shape.
- Next, slide the inner tube into the outer tyre.
- Put the tyre back over the wheel rim, pump the tyre back up to the correct pressure and put the wheel back on your bike.
Once you have patched or replaced your inner tube, close the quick release lever. If you have mended a puncture on the back wheel, get someone to hold the bike up, and go through the gears. Also, make sure you check that the wheel spins freely and the brakes work correctly before setting off again.
While you could wait until a puncture strikes to test out your repairing skills, it’s a much better idea to learn a new skill where the light is good, the temperature is warm, and it’s nice and dry.
So, to test these steps, practise fixing an imaginary puncture from the comfort of your own home. That way, when a puncture does strike, you’ll be confident in your skills and ability to mend it in no time!
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