9 Tips For Repairing Punctures

We have solicited some advice from top mechanics who have changed thousands of flat tyres over the years. Heed their advice.

Bicycling Editors |

1. Shift to make life easier

“For rear-wheel flats, make sure you shift the rear derailleur down to the smallest rear cog before taking off the wheel. It makes removing and installing the wheel much easier.” – Andy Gonazalez, mechanic, Bike Barn, Katy, TX

2. Prevent pinches and blowouts

“Inflate the tube a little before inserting it into the tyre. Use just enough air to almost round it out. This makes it a lot easier to get the tube in place straight, and it helps prevent the tube from getting pinched underneath the bead of the tyre, which can cause a blowout.” – Marc -Divall, service manager, Contender Bicycles, Salt Lake City

3. Avoid the wire-bead headache

“Many riders have trouble dealing with tyres that mount very tightly to the rim – people with less hand strength often have this complaint. So I recommend staying away from wire-bead tyres and going for fold-ups. Wire models never get any easier, but once a folding tyre has been installed, it stretches and is much easier to remove and reinstall.” – Steve Williams, shop mechanic, Newbury Park Bike Shop, Newbury Park, CA

4. Remount the last bit of tyre

“The hardest part is getting the last couple of inches of the tyre back on. It can be daunting. Try squeezing the part of the tyre that’s already on towards the centre of the wheel to make sure it’s fully seated. That gives you just enough slack so you can get that last bit of tyre over the rim.” – Aaron Corso, senior mechanic, Belmont Wheelworks, Belmont, MA

5. Inflate smarter

“Be careful that the tyre is properly seated when you inflate it – especially with high-pressure road tyres. When you’re pumping, stop every 20 psi and check: hold the wheel in your hand, spin it, and look for a bulge or a dip. If you find one, let some air out and wiggle the tyre into its proper place. If you ignore a bulge or a dip, 100 psi of pressure can blow the tyre right off the rim.” – Gareth Jones, service manager, Free Flite Bicycle, Marietta, GA

6. Keep just one tyre lever

“Usually you don’t need more than one lever to remove a tyre. Just pop a lever under the edge of the tyre and pry the bead over the side of the rim. Then just slide the lever around the rim – it should peel the whole side of the tyre off.” – Shane Meadows, service lead, Bicycle Garage, Indianapolis

7. Inspect your rim strip

“When you have the tyre off, inspect the rim strip. Rubber strips can migrate to one side, which can expose a spoke end and cause a flat. The cloth kind of rim strip is much better – it’s adhesive-backed, so it stays in place. Reinforced strapping tape (with filaments running the length) works great, too. Just find it in the right width for your rim.” – Mike Chapman, shop mechanic, New Mexico Bike and Sport, Santa Fe, NM

8. Find the puncture culprit

“After you remove the tube, pump in a little air and hold it up alongside the tyre to align the valve with its rim hole. Look for something sharp – a thorn, glass – in the tyre at the spot where the tube was punctured. Sometimes whatever caused the puncture has fallen out, but it’s good to check. Just remember which direction the tube was facing.”– Dean Whipple, mechanic, Pedal-Power, – Middletown, CT

9. Use your spokey poke

“People come in all the time with multiple flats in the same week, so we always say to be very careful to check the tyre for embedded pieces of glass. We use a rag to sweep the inside of the tyre. Then we pick any bits of glass from the outside of the tyre with a spokey poke, which each mechanic has. It’s just an old spoke with an end sharpened to a point, but a paper clip or tweezers works too.” – John Teske, mechanic, Gregg’s – Greenlake Cycle, Seattle

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