ASK Boris: Changing a Flat
For May we’ve added a new column to our monthly newsletter: Ask Boris. This will give readers a chance to pick Boris’ brain about all things biking. For May we went ahead and asked Boris our own question:
- Don’t fight your brakes or rear derailleur – No need getting frustrated before you even start the repair!
If you are riding a bike that has rim brakes*, make sure to use the brake release feature that opens the caliper to allow tire clearance and easy removal of the wheel. If you’ve got disc brakes, don’t worry about this step!
If you’re removing the REAR WHEEL, make sure to shift the bike into the highest cog in the back (that’s the smallest one, usually 11 or 12 teeth in size). This reduces chain tension and makes taking the wheel in and out much easier
*If your brakes stop by applying pressure on the rim using a rubber brake pad, you have rim brakes. On a road bike this is common using a dual pivot caliper, on hybrid and mountain bikes V-Brakes, and Cantilevers are commonly used.
- “De-Seat” the bead
A tire that is still “seated” on the rim is locked into place. This makes it hard to remove but it’s also what keeps it firmly in place on the rim while you ride! By squeezing both sides of the tire (try to touch one side of the tire, to its opposite side) gently de-seat the tire and move the tire beads into middle of the rim. The wheel circumference is smaller here, and will make it much easier to remove the tire
- Start opposite of the valve, push away from yourself with the tire lever
Now you need to remove the tire. Start directly opposite of the valve as this is the loosest (hopefully) spot on the tire. Slide the tire lever(s) into the tire, and pop one side of the bead off the rim. PUSH AWAY from yourself. That way if the lever is to slip, it won’t come flying back at you in Mayweather fashion.
- DON’T even think about installing a new tube until you’ve located the CAUSE OF THE FLAT
Why would you put in a new tube before you know what caused the flat?!! Take a few seconds to pump up the old tube and locate the leak. If the puncture was caused by an object, find and remove it from the tire. If the tire has a big nick or cut in it, you can tuck a powerbar wrapper, dollar bill or similar between the tube and the tire to help get you home.
- Tuck the Tube
Make sure to tuck the tube into the center of the tire and rim. This will help reduce the risk of “pinching” it when you re-install the tire
- Return the tire by hand, finish @ the valve
If possible, don’t use the tire lever to return the tire. Massage and push the tire back onto the rim by hand if you can. Finish returning it at the valve. This is a helpful trick because the point at which you are most likely to pinch the tube, is the point at which you finish returning the tire. Push up on the valve stem (push it into the tire) to clear any potential pinches.
- Re-install the wheel, close the brake and ensure you’re not “dragging”
Make sure your wheel is centered properly and that your brake is not dragging the wheel. You’ve struggled enough.
- Offer to change your ride-mates flats
It’s the cheapest and easiest way to make friends…who will then buy you ‘thank you’ beers or coffees.