How to Patch a Bike Tube
Author: Jared Long
Whether you are a pro racer, a casual commuter, or somewhere in between, you have likely found yourself with a flat tire. This can be extremely inconvenient if you are away from home or stranded out on the trails. Your tire is flat, so what do you do? You could walk your bike home, but you could be miles away! Thankfully, fixing a flat tire is an easy repair anyone can use to get back to enjoying their ride. A popped tube will never get in your way again after learning this simple fix!
When fixing a compromised tube, you first need to remove the tire and tube. There are two ways to take the tire off. The best way to do this is to grab some handy tire levers as they will greatly reduce the strength required to remove your tire. With some gorilla strength and a lot of patience, you can also remove the tire by hand.
If you find yourself without tire levers and can’t get the tire off with your hands. Don’t worry, there are alternative options to using tire levers. You can use a wooden or plastic spatula, an old toothbrush, or really anything that is wooden or plastic with a flat edge. Avoid using anything metal as it may damage your rim, tire, tube, or all 3 and make your situation worse.
STEP 1: Take the tire off
Using one of your tire levers, slide the lip of the tire lever under the bead of the tire and pull it out toward you. Lock that tire lever to the tire spokes using the handle on the other end. This will keep the tire pulled out and will allow you to slide the other tire lever under the lip. Then, slide the second tire lever in the direction of the rim to keep pulling the tire off the rim.
STEP 2: Find the hole
Once you get the tire off of the rim, you will be able to pull out the tube (start by pulling out the tube stem). Once the tube is out, pump up the tube until it is well inflated.
*You can purchase a portable pump that will make this step possible while away from home.
Now listen for a whistling sound as air will be forced out of the tire’s hole. You may also spin the inflated tube around a tub of water to watch for air bubbles. Once you find the hole, grab your favorite color marker and circle it.
STEP 3: Prepping
Now deflate the tube and find your patch kit. If you do not have a patch kit, you can use rubber cement, a piece of an old tube, and sandpaper. I am demonstrating below using rubber cement. The steps will look the same if you are using a patch kit, only you will use the tube of glue provided in the kit instead of rubber cement.
Clean the area of the hole and use sandpaper to scratch up the area. This provides texture for the patch to hold. Put rubber cement around the hole. You should cover an area a little larger than your patch to ensure the entire patch will stick. Let the rubber cement sit for a few minutes before putting on the patch.
STEP 4: Applying the patch
After those few minutes, determine your patch size and put it over the hole. Apply pressure and rub the surface of the patch to make sure all corners are properly glued on. Give your patch time to dry (at least 5 minutes) and your tube is good to go.
STEP 5: Ready for action
When putting the tube back onto your wheel, pump it up slightly to give it some form, which will make the tube easier to work with. Then, place the tube back into your tire and rim. Massage the tire back onto the rim, and once the tire is in place pump it up until it is fully inflated. Now get out there and enjoy the rest of your ride!