Repairing A Flat: In RECORD Time!
If you’re a regular cyclist, at some stage in your cycling career you’re going to have to deal with a flat tyre; it’s a statistical inevitability! Before you get your tools out though, there are a few preventative measures that you can put in place to ensure that your serious flats are few and far between and it’s always worth considering a ‘plan B’ before committing to any road side repairs.
Tyre liners are great for puncture prevention or tubes that come with sealant installed within them; a combination of the two is ideal but it’s not an option that’s available to everyone. Depending on where you’re riding and what type of riding that you’re doing, you should also prepare yourself for the worst by carrying a puncture repair kit if you know that you’re going to be stranded away from civilization and completely stuck without one.
Having a Plan B is also something that you should keep in the back of your mind at all times too; if you can wheel your bike to the tube station, train station or bus stop and push it the rest of the way home – great. If you can’t, there may be other factors to consider before getting your tools out and embarking on a repair job; the light may not be ideal, the weather might be terrible and you might want to think about calling for a lift instead.
If those options aren’t available to you, then it’s time to bite the bullet and get your tools out and sort your tyre out yourself. If you’ve never done it before, it’s actually pretty easy – especially if you’re riding a modern road bike that has quick release mechanisms and the like. It makes the job much easier. So how do we fix the problem then?
Removing The Tyre
Firstly, you’ll need to remove the wheel before removing the tyre that’s causing the problem. Depending on what type of bike you have, this may be short work or a mechanical nightmare. As soon as you’ve removed your wheel, use your tyre levers (also known as ‘irons’) to unseat the tyre by hooking the rounded end under the tyre’s outer edge (known as ‘the bead’). Use the spokes to hold the lever in place and prevent the tyre from jumping back onto the rim. Apply another lever next to the first (under the bead as well) and unseat the bead at regular intervals around the tyre until the tyre has popped off of the rim.
Locate The Puncture
With half of all of the tyre removed from the rim, it should be easy to fish out the inner tube. Once out, use your pump to inflate the tube and search for the sight or sound of a hole. As soon as you’ve located the hole, gently run your hands around the inside of the tyre; you should feel for any sharp edges from foreign matter that could’ve caused the puncture. If you find anything, be sure to remove it before placing your repaired tube or a new tube in the tyre.
The Patch Job
Most puncture repair kits come with an alcohol soaked pad that you can use to clean the area that needs patching. After you’ve cleaned the area, you’ll need to gently sand the area back with sandpaper or emery paper. If you have a standard puncture repair kit, you’ll probably have to use glue to apply the patch; if that’s the case then apply a very thing layer of glue. The glue requires a little bit of time to get sticky so it’s best to wait until it’s nice and tacky before applying the patch; be sure to press firmly until the patch sticks completely. Glueless patches are available and all you have to do is stick the thing on.
Putting It Back Together
Now that you have your patched tube, it’s time to put it all back together. To start, inflate your tube until it holds its shape; make sure you don’t over inflate it at this stage of the operation. Next, insert the tube into the tyre making sure that the valve is installed straight. Carefully move the tyre back onto the rim; use your hands to do this, not your rims otherwise you might encounter another puncture very soon! Use a gently rolling motion to do this instead. Once the tube and tyre are both back on the rim, it’s time to inflate completely. Make sure that bead of the tyre is sitting on the rim correctly before inflating the tyre to it’s maximum.
After that, it’s a simple matter of putting your wheel back where it came from and then you’re good to go. If you don’t already ride around with a puncture repair kit, then you really should consider carrying one with you. Modern repair kits are small, lightweight and easily fit in a backpack or saddlebag. You should always carry one – you never know where you might get stranded!
Here’s a really great video to give you a more visual explanation of the task and how quickly it can be done with a little bit of practice! Don’t let a puncture stop you in your tracks!