I’ve been enjoying having my cycle buddy back over the last month. Kate now meets me most nights when I’m on my way home from work and we cycle home together. This does mean though that she’s now had her first puncture – BOO! And from that I learned a very surprising fact at the age of *cough*, Kate didn’t know how to repair a puncture (scowly face at my father-in-law who obviously didn’t teach her as a kid). So I thought a wee quick and easy blog post might be useful for all those other cyclists out there who have just never learned. After all, it’s a certainty – at some point we all get punctures! I accept that it’s easier just to replace the tubing if you get a puncture, but it means you have to carry tubes around with you (and you are talking almost a £5 lay out every time you get a puncture). Much easier to just carry a little puncture repair kit and know how to fix that tube.
I can’t believe there are cyclist who can’t fix a puncture, I thought it was one of those childhood rights of passage!
What’s in a puncture repair kit?
- A couple of tyre levers (I keep calling them tyre irons even though they are plastic)
- A small piece of sandpaper
- Some tube patches and
- Rubber solution
You will also need a pump or CO2 inflator.
There are two ways of doing this, some folk just take the tube out of the tyre without removing the tyre, which I accept is probably quicker and if you have heavy duty tyres and probably easier. I’ve just always taken the tyre off though, so that’s how I’m going to explain to you here. Taking the tyre off also gives you the advantage that you can check the inside and out of the tyre to make sure the puncture causing item isn’t still there.
The easiest way to do get the tyre off is with tyre levers although you can very occasionally get some tyres off just by using your hands if you happen to have the grip of a power-lifter.
So first, let all of the air out of the inner tube and push the lever end(not the hook end) of the tyre lever under the edge (bead) of the tyre. Then push down on the other end of the lever and lift the tyre up (hence why it’s a tyre lever). This first bit is always the hardest to get going but once you get that one bit of tyre off, it gets easier. Promise.
Once you have that first tyre lever in place and first bit of tyre over the wheel rim, you can use the little hook on the end to hook the lever to the spokes and keep things in place. Then do the same thing again with another tyre lever maybe an inch or two away from the first. This one will be tricky but once you’ve got that second tyre lever it gets easier. Repeat this one last time and it’s just a case of sliding the tyre lever around to coax the tyre off the rim all the way around the wheel.
Once you have the tyre completely out of the rim, you can remove it and the tube. This gives you a chance to check it over to see if there are any little sharp things stuck in the tyre, inside and out before checking for any debris stuck to the tube, if you are all clear it’s time to find the puncture in the tube.
There are various methods to do this.
- Pump air into the tube and listen for air escaping, you can also put the tube up to your cheek and see if you can feel where the air is escaping.
- For more difficult to find punctures (only works when you are at home, not in the dark, half way along the Innocent cycle path), is to submerge the tube in a sink of water while pumping air through the tube. That way you can see the air bubbling out of the hole.
So lets get to it
- In your puncture repair kit, there should be a wee bit of sandpaper. Use it to LIGHTLY rub around the damaged are of the tube. This gives a better surface for the rubber solution to grip.
- Next, apply the rubber solution to the tube. Basically, you need to apply enough to cover an area the size of the patch and you don’t need a massive amount so spread it thinly. You can use your finger to do this, it’s not glue 🙂
- IMPORTANT BIT! Once applied leave it for a minute so it goes tacky, if you don’t do this, it won’t stick.
- While you’re waiting, get the patch ready by pulling the silver foil or similar off the back, but don’t touch the side you’ll be applying to the tube as you don’t want to get dirt on it.
- Next, apply the patch to the tube, make sure you cover the puncture – you may laugh but I’ve glued a patch on to the tube and got it in completely the wrong place. It can happen to you! 🙂 I usually either press down on the patch or put something heavy on it to hold it down and I leave it like that for about 2 minutes.
- When the patch has stuck down properly, pump some air through the tube to make sure it’s doing its job.
- Done? Excellent, get the tube back onto the bike.
The hard part
I always think that getting the tube and tyre back on the bike is the hard part.
You want a little bit of air in the tube, but not loads. Just enough to make it a bit rigid so you can put it inside the tyre without pinching it. Now it’s a case of slowly and carefully pushing the tyre back onto the wheel, one side at a time. The first side should go on pretty easily and once that side is in place, I find it easier to lay the wheel flat and then push the tube back into the tyre. Remember you need to put the valve in position through the wheel so do that bit first. Once the tube in is, simple go around the wheel, using the heel of your hand to push the tyre back over the rim, making sure not to pinch your tubing.
You may need to do the last part of the tyre with a tyre lever.
Puncture repaired, tyre on, job done (well once you re-inflate it).
Some great videos teaching you how to repair a puncture ( for those of you who prefer video)
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