How To Change and Fix a Flat Tyre

All the tools, tips, and tricks you need for a quick roadside (or trail) repair.


Changing a bike tyre after getting a flat is a relatively easy fix—as long as you know how to handle it. Whether you ride on smooth pavement, rough gravel, or rocky singletrack trails, it’s bound to happen eventually, so you might as well prepare yourself with both the necessary tools and the bike repair knowledge you need address the problem.

Below, we detail everything you need to know about how to change a bike tyre, including the bike tyre repair tips you need to succeed.

First things first though—for tools, you should always carry tyre levers, a correctly-sized spare tube, and an inflation device, be it a mini pump or CO2 cartridge. You may also want to consider a patch kit or tyre plug, which can come in handy for certain riders. And if you run tubeless tyres, scroll down to skip to the tubeless section. When you’re ready to go, here’s your step-by-step guide.

[WATCH] Fix a Flat Tyre in 2 Minutes

Follow These Steps to Change a Tyre and Fix a Flat

Step 1: Remove the Tyre

Start by removing the wheel. Keep your bike upright, and if it’s a rear-wheel flat, shift your drivetrain into the hardest gear. If your bike has rim brakes, which many bikes still do, you may also need to loosen the brake.


Park Tool Tire Lever Set TL-1.2C

R 86

Next, position yourself on the non-drive side of your bike (opposite the chain) and either open the quick release or unthread the thru-axle to remove the wheel.

Now you can remove the tyre. Hook the rounded end of one tyre lever under the bead (the outer edge) of the tyre to unseat it. Fix the other end to a spoke to hold the lever in place and keep the unseated tyre from popping back into the rim. Then hook the second lever under the bead next to the first, pushing it around the rim clockwise until one side of the tyre is off. You don’t need to completely remove the tyre.

Step 2: Find the Culprit

Once the tyre is loose, pull out the old tube (if applicable) and look for the source of the flat, which could be a thorn, piece of glass, or some other sharp object. Carefully run your fingers along the inside of your tyre and rim, making sure nothing sharp is left behind; otherwise, you risk getting another flat. Also inspect the outside of the tyre, again looking for any foreign object that might still be stuck in the rubber.

If you’re using tubes and want to do a little detective work, pump some air into the old one to find the leak. Two holes side by side indicate a pinch-flat, where the tube gets pinched between the tyre and rim. A single hole is a sign that your flat was most likely caused by a sharp object. By lining the tube up with the tyre using the valve as a point of reference, you can double check the area where the hole is to ensure the culprit is removed.

Step 3: Patch the Problem


Park Tool Vp-1 Tube Patch Kit

R 39.99

If you’re the thrifty type who likes to reuse old tubes, or if you’ve gotten multiple flats on your ride and have no more spares, then you can patch your tube with a patch kit. If you have a new tube, skip to the next section.

Start by cleaning the punctured area and roughing the surface with an emery cloth. For a glueless patch, simply stick it over the hole and press firmly. For a patch that requires glue, add a thin layer of glue to the tube and patch. Wait for the glue to get tacky, then apply the patch and press firmly until it adheres.

Using a patch to fix a flat tyre

Katja Kircher//Getty Images
If you prefer to reuse old tubes or ran out of spares, you can try to patch the hole with a patch kit.

Step 4: Install the Tube


Lezyne Pocket Drive Pump

R 569.90

Now inflate your new or patched tube just enough so that it holds its shape. This makes it easier to place inside the tyre. Next, with the valve stem installed straight through the rim’s valve hole, position the tube inside the tyre. Work the tyre back onto the rim with your hands by rolling the bead away from yourself. Try not to use levers to reseat the tire, as you could accidentally puncture your new tube. When you get to the valve stem, tuck both sides of the tyre bead low into the rim and push upward on the stem to get the tube inside the tyre.

Check to make sure the tyre bead isn’t pinching the tube by gently pushing the tyre to the side as you work your way around the rim. Then inflate to the appropriate PSI and check that the bead is seated correctly.

Step 5: Reinstall the Wheel

If everything looks good, reattach your wheel, making sure the quick release or thru-axle lever is on the opposite side of your drivetrain.

If you had a rear-wheel flat, lay the top of the chain around the smallest cog on your cassette and carefully push the wheel back into the frame. Close your quick release (and rim brakes if applicable) or insert the thru-axle back into the frame and hub and thread it closed.

Finally, lift the rear wheel and spin your cranks once to make sure everything is back in place and operating smoothly. If all is good to go, get back on your bike and enjoy the rest of your ride.

how to change a bike tire, bike tire repair

Trevor Raab

How to Plug a Tubeless Tyre Instead

For tubeless setups—all but standard in mountain biking and becoming increasingly popular on gravel, cyclocross, and even some road bikes—your sealant should do the trick without you even realizing it. Be sure to check your sealant regularly (about every three to six months) to make sure the tyre has enough and that it hasn’t dried out.

But in the event of a bigger puncture or side-wall tear, you may need a tyre plug to stop air loss. Plug kits come with a small strip of rubber and an insertion device, which allow you to plug the hole without even removing the wheel. Once you find the puncture and insert the rubber plug, re-inflate your tyre to the appropriate pressure to see that it’s holding air. If so, start riding again, and check the repair every so often to make sure it’s holding fast. You could also add more sealant, but you’d need to carry a valve core removal tool and a small bottle of sealant.

how to change a bike tire, bike tire repair

Trevor Raab
If air loss is coming from a puncture bigger than a plug fix, you could try a patch or a boot on the tyre. But fair warning: It’ll likely be difficult to get a patch to adhere to your sealant-coated tyre without thoroughly cleaning the area. Adding more sealant or a patch could create another problem, too, by letting all the air out and breaking the seal between the rim and tyre. It’ll likely be difficult to reseat the tyre bead onto the rim on the spot. The easiest way to ensure your tyre holds air at this point is to simply use a spare emergency tube to get through the ride and address it at home or at a bike shop.

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