Tri Talk Tuesday – How to Fix a Flat Tire

Happy Tuesday!!! I hope everyone who had the day off yesterday enjoyed it because it was beautiful out here. My back, arms, and legs that are brunt to a crisp are proof. But that’s besides the point. It’s Tuesday and I’m all linked up with Cynthia from You Signed Up For What and Miranda from The Cupcake Triathlete for more Tri Talk Tuesday!

Today we’re talking bike maintenance. And this aptly timed for me. Let me share something embarrassing first; I do not know how to change my bike tire. Well, that’s no longer true. But I’m in my third season of triathlon, my fourth year cycling, and I just learned a couple of weeks ago. 

See, when Husband and I first started dating we bought me a $5 road bike from a garage sale. It needed some love and we thought we could provide that love. As we attempted to change both tubes and tires together we discovered we cannot provide it the love it needed. Twice the tubes exploded when we both had our faces only inches from the bike. Twice. I thought I’d be deaf forever and ever since that day I have refused to change a bike tire and I’m even nervous just pumping them up. See? Embarrassing. 

 So yesterday when I was chugging through my final mile home after 62 brutal miles on my bike, I was super pissed when my back tire made a horrific noise and went flat. So many miles and I was barely half a mile from home. So since I was so close I opted to go walk of shame style and walk my bike home instead of sitting down in one of my neighbors front yards to try and fix it. But it still needed fixing when I got home, so I pulled on my big girl tri shorts and sat down to do it myself. 

So here’s the concise step by step on how to fix a flat tire-

1. Find the issue if possible. I managed to run over a nail so it was easy for me to figure out what went wrong. You may have just lost air for whatever reason and may be able to reuse the tube. You can opt to use a patch kit if you are inclined to fix the tube or don’t have one for whatever reason. 

The culprit. Damn nail

2. Have everything you need on you. Get a saddle bag and stuff that sucker full. You’ll need an extra tube, C02, C02 dispensing gun, tire levers, and a patch kit if you want one.

3. Take your whole wheel off the bike. More often than not your back tire is the one to go. This means you need to be comfortable taking it off around your drive chain. To do this you need to flip your bike over so it’s sitting on it’s handle bars and saddle. I have to remove my aero bottle set up too, both the bottle and the mount for it. So make sure you get one that pops on and off easily if you’re in the market. Make sure your bike is in it’s highest gear. This means your chain should be in the small ring and the smallest cog. Just press your shifters and spin the pedals until it’s in place. This will make putting the wheel back on easiest. Next open your brakes up. There will be a knobby thingy on it, just push it back to open your brakes wider so it’s easy to get your wheel in and out. Now flip the quick release in the center of the rim, opposite side of the gears, to open. It’ll be labeled.  

This picture is obviously of my front tire, but I’ve got the quick release in my hand and you can see the knob untwisted on the opposite side of where my hand is placed.

Now with the quick release open, grab the knob on the opposite side of your quick release, on the outside of your cogs. Hold that knob and spin your quick release about five or six times until it’s loose and twisted out away from the wheel. Now carefully pull your wheel back through the quick release opening. You may have to push your derailleur forward to get the chain off the cogs. I have to give mine a little push to slide my chain off my little cog, totally normal. 

You can see my quick release and corresponding knobber well in this one. 

Look closely in between the knob and cogs and you can see the opening that the skewer (the part that runs through your wheel holding it in place) will slip out through

4. Remove the tire from the wheel. You’ll probably have two or three tire levers in your bag, but you honestly only need one to get the tire off. Put the flat end under your tire, in between the tire and rim. Attach the hook end to a spoke and it will lift the edge of your tire out of your rims. Unhook the hook end and just simply slide the flat end around the entire rim until the whole edge of your tire is out the rim. Pull the whole tire off.

5. Check in the inner part of your rim and make sure there’s nothing in there that will pop your new tube. Now get your new tube out. I put a bit of air in mine which makes putting the tire back on without pinching the tube a lot easier. If you have a C02 gun that allows you to control air flow I would suggest this. I was using a regular bike pump so it was easy enough. If this isn’t an option then just be careful not to pinch the tube under the edge of he tire when you put it back on. That may cause it to explode. But put a smidge of air in the tube if you can then put the valve through the valve hole first and start getting the tube in place on the rim from there. 

6. Put the tire back on. I did this completely by had. You can use a bike lever, but it’s easy enough to do by hand that using a lever just makes more work. 

Tuck the tire edges back in and just rotate the rim and stuff the edges back in, careful not to pinch the tube still. It’ll get a little tough once you start getting towards the last bit of tire to get on. Use your big tri muscles, you can do it. 

7. Put the wheel back on. Once your tire is back on completely, take it and slide the skewer back through the opening. You may have to once again shove your derailleur forward a bit and slide your gears back inside the chain. Make sure the chain sets back down onto that smallest cog you started on. But you should be able to slip the skewer back in now. Grab the knob and hold it still while you turn the quick release tight and snap it back down into the closed position. 

8. If you’re using C02 to pump your tires, twist the C02 cartridge onto your gun, pop it on your valve and release all the air into the tire. If you’re using a pump flip your bike back over onto it’s tires and pump away. About 100 lbs of pressure is what the cartridge will give you, so fill it up to about there if you’re using a pump. 

9. Get your bike all flipped over correctly, put your aero bottle back on and together if you have one, shove your things back into your saddle bag, and be proud. You did it!

You want to stick a wet wipe in your bag too otherwise you’ll get your bike covered in grease once you flip it over and get back on. 

I hope this is helpful to some of you. I feel a lot more confident that I could do this in a race now and I believe it’s something you should practice and be comfortable doing before you’re sitting on the side of the road in a race panicking. So get practicing and learn to love your bike!

Next week’s theme is Pre Race Jitters! So put on your big girl (or boy) tri shorts and buck up! Ain’t nothing to worry about =) Also, if you plan to link up please be sure you’re participating in the theme of the week

Have you ever had to change your tire during a race?
DO you know basic bike maintenance?

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted

13 Replies to “Tri Talk Tuesday – How to Fix a Flat Tire”

  1. I am just crawling in my running again, but since I love to plan ahead, I have been daydreaming about a triathlon. The bike part however, still scares me off… Thanks a lot for sharing this info. I’ll surely read it many times.

    1. All three of the disciplines feed off each other. Start cross training some swimming and cycling into your workouts and your run will improve! The bike can be a bit scary at first, but once you ride a couple times you’ll feel incredible. It’s so freeing!

  2. I’ve been doing triathlon for 10 years now and I STILL CAN’T CHANGE A BIKE TIRE, ha ha ha. I’ve finally just mastered changing by back wheel, ha ha. This is a great step by step tutorial!

    1. I figured that since I was doing long course this year I should learn. I didn’t even carry stuff to change my tire my the last two seasons so I would have DNF’ed if I ever got a flat in a race.

  3. Excellent tutorial! I’ve managed to change a flat twice, but in the comforts of my home and without C02. Thinking I should test my skills out again this weekend just to make sure I can remember how!

  4. I like how you say “use your big tri muscles” – putting the tyre back on is the part I always really, really struggle with! Just discovered this link-up and am looking forward to joining in on pre-race jitters next week 🙂

    1. Ugh, yes. Figuring out how to move my derailluer to get the cogs back in the chain ring and the skewer back through it’s opening confused me a bit. Took me a couple of tries to get that right. practice makes perfect though. Looking forward to you linking up next week!

  5. Two weeks ago I took my back tire to be changed (due to it being on my trainer and getting rubbed down all winter), and I had him explain step by step what he was doing. It definitely was helpful, but I’d still feel a bit overwhelmed trying to change one on my own out on the road!
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