How to Replace a Bike Tube
How to Replace a Bike Tube
If you ride your bike long enough, you will eventually have to deal with a flat tire. A puncture is caused by a leak or puncture in the inflated rubber tube that sits between the rim and the tread of the tire. Replacing a bike tube is an essential skill for any cyclist, whether you need to fix flats or just want to switch to a different tube. Luckily, it’s also easy to do once you get the hang of it!
1Remove the wheel from the bike 1Downshift and hang the bike on a tree or workbench for work. Make sure to downshift to the outermost gear before turning the bike upside down. If you have access, use a bike rack that holds the bike upright. If not, put the bike upside down. Don’t tip the bike over as this will force you to defy gravity and make your job more difficult.
2 If the brakes prevent wheel removal, release the brakes. Different brake types have different brake release mechanisms, so refer to your owner’s manual or the bicycle or brake manufacturer’s website. In many cases, you can simply release the quick release on the brake lever on the brake caliper or handlebar. Alternatively, you may need to squeeze the brake calipers together in order to remove the brake cables from them. In the case of disc brakes, there is no need to release the brakes. If the bike is equipped with hydraulic disc brakes, do not squeeze the lever when the wheel is off.
3Loosen the nut connecting the axle to the bike. You don’t need to remove the nuts completely, just loosen them enough that you can (a few steps from now) pull them out freely. Use a lubricant like silicone spray or even cooking spray if you don’t want the nut to come loose while using the wrench. If you have a modern bike with a quick-release wheel latch, removing the wheel is easier – just open the latch and turn the loosening nut a few times so it clears the frame. Don’t remove the wheels just yet.
4 If you want to remove the rear wheel, pull the chain out of the gear plate. With enough practice, you won’t have to move the chain to do this, but you may need to do it first. Shift so that the chain is on the outermost cog on the rear wheel and the innermost cog on the pedal spindle – this gives the chain more slack to work. Pull the rear derailleur (the mechanism that guides the chain into place when shifting) back to disengage the chain from the gears of the cogwheel.
In a pinch, you can mend a punctured bike tube without removing the entire wheel—although this makes the actual repair work more difficult—but you have to remove the wheel to replace the tube.
5Pull the wheel away from the bicycle frame. For the front wheel, you just guide the axle (now with the nut or quick release loose) out of the fork that holds it to the bike frame. You do the same thing with the rear wheel, but you need to be more careful to guide the wheel down and forward (if the bike is upright) over chains and other obstacles. Continue to pull the rear derailleur back to help move the chain out of the way.
2 Pull out the old tube
1 Fully deflate the tire while it is still on the removed wheel. For American (US) valves, use a small tool (such as a thin Allen key) to depress the plunger inside the threaded cylinder. For Presta valves, unscrew the top of the stem to release the air. With a Dunlop valve, loosen the cap a few turns and pull on the valve tip.
Schrader valves are the same type of valves found on car tires. Presta valves are thinner and longer than Schraders and have a locknut on the tip. Dunlop valves are thinner than Schraders, thicker than Prestas, and only have threads near the top.
If your wheel has a locking ring that is screwed onto the stem to secure it to the bike rim, remove it after deflating the tube – but don’t lose it!
2 Use two simple levers to pry out part of the tire. If possible, avoid metal tools and use plastic tire levers instead. Insert a lever between the tire and the rim and pop a section of tire – instead of sitting in a channel on the inside of the rim, it should now leave the rim in this position. Leave this tire lever in place. 
To reduce the risk of damaging the rim, buy a set of inexpensive bike tire levers—you can get them at any bike store or online.
A pair of spoon handles or a flat-blade screwdriver can be used as levers, but you must insert and pry them carefully to avoid scratching or bending the rim.
3 Pop the rest of the tire off the rim. Insert another tire lever into the gap created by the first lever between the rim and tire (it should still be in place). Slide the second lever all the way to the rim and the tire should pop out of the channel as if you were unzipping the jacket.
4 Pull out the inner tube from between the tire and the rim. Reach into the opening you created with the lever and grab the rubber tube inside. Work around the wheel and pull it all the way out. When you get to the stem, push it down over the rim and use the tube to pull it out.
3 Install the new pipe
1 Pump the replacement tube until it has a basic circular shape. Adding too much air now makes reinstallation more difficult. Adding too little will make it more likely to get squeezed by the tire (and eventually puncture) when reinstalled.
If you’re replacing an old tube due to a puncture, check the inside of the tire for sharp objects and holes larger than 0.25″ (0.64cm), which means you’ll need to replace the entire tire. Use a flashlight for visual inspection, and/or spread a thick cloth over the entire interior. Carefully delete anything you find. Do this before proceeding to install a new tube or you could get another flat tire!
2Insert a new inner tube between the tire and the rim. Starting with the stem, thread it through the hole in the rim. If the stem has a locking ring, hand-tighten to hold the stem in place. Then, methodically push the new tube into the gap around the wheel. Take your time to make sure the tube isn’t twisted or sticking out anywhere.
3Reinstall the tire on the inner rim of the rim. Once the new tube is in place, push the tire one section at a time back into the channel on the inside of the rim by hand. If necessary, pull the tire with one hand while pushing with the other.
If you can’t do it manually, you can also use a set of plastic tire levers for this part. However, be careful not to pierce the tube with the lever.
4 Fill the new tube with air to the recommended tire pressure. Check the tire pressure for the recommended pressure in psi (pounds per square inch), bar or kilopascal. Check your work with a pressure gauge. Improperly inflated tires are more likely to blow out.
4 Reinstall the wheel
1Follow the same procedure as removing the wheel, only in reverse. If you can successfully remove the bike wheel, you can easily install one.
2 Guide the wheel onto the fork on the bike frame. It’s pretty straightforward for the front wheel. If you’re attaching a rear wheel, pull the derailleur back to clear the chain from the cogwheel. Then, carefully guide the wheel into place while continuing to pull the derailleur.
3 Re-engage the brakes. If your brakes can be released quickly, close the latch on the brake caliper or brake lever. Alternatively, squeeze the calipers together and feed the brake cable back into place. See your instruction manual or manufacturer’s website for specific guidance on your brand.
4 Tighten the nuts to hold the wheel in place. Use a wrench to make sure the nut is snug and secure. However, don’t try to tighten them so hard that you “round up” the nuts, or they will be difficult to remove in the future.
If your bike has a wheel quick release, simply close the latch to secure the wheel.
Now you’re ready to go for a ride!
How to choose the right bicycle inner tube size written instructions
Step 1: Choose the right tube size
When choosing an inner tube, you must know two important dimensions: the diameter of the wheel and the width of the tire. You need both to choose the correct tube size. These dimensions can be found on your tire: diameter x width.
The first number is the diameter of the wheel. Sizes such as 26, 24, 20, 27.5, 29 and 700c are common tire diameters. The second number (after the X) is the width of the tire. Widths typically range from 1 to 3 inches. For example, a 26 x 1.75 dimension means a tire that is 26 inches in diameter and 1.75 inches wide.
While your diameter measurements need to be accurate, your width measurements don’t. Because inner tubes stretch, they usually have a certain width. For example, one of our most popular tubes is 26 x 1.75-2.125”, which means it fits tires 26 inches in diameter and between 1.75 and 2.125 inches wide.
Some tires are measured in millimeters, but the basic measurement structure remains the same: diameter x width. Instead of inches you will see 700c x 18 mm. The letters at the end of the tire diameter are a holdover from the old French system, which used the letters a, b, and c to denote the inside diameter of the rim.
Step 2: Select the Correct Stem
After you know your tube size, you need to choose your stem type. The valve stem is the metal part of the bicycle wheel that sticks out and allows air to enter (and stay in) your tire. There are three types of stems: Schrader, Presta and Woods/Dunlop. Woods (or Dunlop) stems are extremely rare and usually only found in the Netherlands or Asia, so we won’t spend any time here.
Schrader and Presta Valves
American valves, on the other hand, are the most common valve stems on bikes. The easiest to identify, they are sometimes called standard valves. An easy way to remember if you have an American valve is to consider an “S”. American style valves are short, sturdy and standard. If you don’t know what stem you have, it’s likely an American.
The last stem type is the Presta. Traditionally, Presta valves have been used on high-end bikes preferred by professional cyclists. Think the “P” in Presta stands for Professional, Performance, and Premium. If you have a Presta valve, you usually know it.
Step 3: Durability – Self-Sealing Tube or Basic Tube?
The last consideration to keep in mind when choosing a tube is durability. You have no reason to suffer from a flat tire – flat-free riding can be a reality. Self-sealing tubes are heavy duty and designed to stop flat for up to two years! To get this type of protection, you’ll need to buy tubes that come pre-installed with Slime tire sealant.
Alternatively, if you already have an empty tube but want the protection provided by a self-sealing tube, you can insert the tube sealant yourself. Learn more about pipe protection sealants here.
When shopping for an inner tube, consider tire size, valve stem type, and durability needs, and you’ll never choose the wrong tube again. Let’s go, let’s ride!
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