Disaster strikes ...
It’s one of those tasks that we all find a chore, always seeming to strike at the worst possible time; when it’s pouring with rain and freezing cold, but it’s an essential skill to have in any cyclists repertoire.
Being familiar with the puncture repair process can save you a whole lot of hassle and time when you next suffer a puncture, this guide will help you become more confident in repairing a puncture and faster in the process. The less time you spend at the side of a busy road the better!
Before starting the repair you should place your bike and yourself somewhere safe, ideally lean the bike gently against a wall or something else stable.
What you need
The following bits are essential for all puncture repairs so it is a good idea to make sure your kit is in good working order and has enough repair patches.
Removing the wheel
The first step is to remove the affected wheel from the bike, on most modern bikes this is a process made very simple with the use of Quick Release (QR) skewers.
A tip if the puncture is on the rear wheel is to shift your gear on to your smallest sprocket which makes it easier to get the wheel off and back on.
Simply undo the quick release lever or wheel nuts. You are now able to remove the wheel with relative ease, you may have a release lever mechanism on your brakes that allows the brakes to open up slightly wider giving you enough clearance for the tyre.
Locate the puncture
Closely inspect the tyre, for anything that looks like it could have caused the puncture; usual culprits include thorns, small slivers of glass and flint. If you discover anything that you are able to safely remove then do so and discard somewhere that you’re not likely to ride over again.Take care when doing this, as any objects could cut your finger.
Top Tip: When you find the offending object and remove it, make a mental note or mark the spot on the tyre where the object was; this will help to locate the hole in the inner tube faster. If you locate the label of the tyre manufacturer where the valve is when you mount up the tyre, this can act as a useful reference point.
Remove the innertube
Let out any remaining air from the innertube via the valve, with the air out you can push the bead of the tyre towards the centre of the rim to loosen it. Loosening the tyre bead from the rim is an important step; sometimes when tyres have been on a long time they can get really stuck to the rim and if you go in with a tyre lever straight away, you can risk doing damage to the tyre.
Take one of your tyre levers and start in line with a spoke; push the flat end usually with a small hook like structure, under the tyre bead and lever the bead over the edge of the rim, you should be able to hook the lever around the spoke to hold it in place.
Repeat this process about 10 centimetres to the right of the first lever, once the second lever is hooked under the bead you can use usually push this lever around the circumference of the wheel and the tyre is removed. In some instances with very tight tyres, you may require three levers. If this happens, slide your third lever under the bead also and run it all the way around the rest of the tyre.
You can now remove the innertube and inspect the internals of the tyre. Look for anything that may of caused the puncture and remove it. Take care when running a finger on the inside of the tyre, as there may be a shard of glass or a thorn.
With the innertube removed you need to locate the puncture, it helps to inflate the innertube slightly so you can hear/feel any air escaping. If you have access to some water and a container when repairing the puncture it can help to put the innertube in the water and look for the escaping air bubbles.
Mark the spot of the hole with the supplied wax crayon from your puncture repair kit.
Patching the innertube
Using the sandpaper from the kit, roughen the area around the hole (this aids the adhesive), depending on the type of patches you have next you might need to apply a thin layer of adhesive over the hole, slightly larger than the patch that you are going to apply.
The glue is most effective when it has been left to dry for a short period of time, once it has started to set you can apply the patch over the hole. Apply a little bit of pressure to get it to stick, but avoid moving the patch around once it has been applied. Ensure the patch is well stuck before removing the thin plastic coating from the rubber patch.
If you are using the self adhesive patches you need not apply any glue, you simple place the patch over the hole and apply pressure to get the patch to stick.
Refitting the tyre and innertube
With your puncture now sealed you can place your valve through the valve hole in your rim and feed the rest of the innertube back inside the tyre.
Fold the first bit of bead of your tyre back over the rim edge; it helps if you push the valve up slightly in to the tyre to keep the innertube away from the tyre bead.
Work your way around the wheel with each hand, working in symmetry. You will be able to push the tyre beading over the rim edge and towards the centre of the rim. The last section of the bead to push over the rim edge can sometimes have a slight resistance and be a tight fit. With a good amount of pressure this is overcome. Take care that the innertube is not pinched between the rim and tyre bead.
Once you’ve worked your way all around the tyre and got the tyre refitted you can inflate the innertube partially, this will allow you to check that the tyre bead is seated correctly.
Once you’re happy that the tyre is correctly fitted you can inflate it back to full pressure and place it back on your bike; re-tighten the skewers.
You can now get back to bit of cycling that we all love, riding!