Never let a puncture ruin your ride again. We show you how to quickly and easily change an inner tube on the roadside.
You’re feeling a bit deflated. You've had an abrupt or slow expulsion of air from beneath you and suddenly your tyre is making that awful flapping sound as it rolls flatly along the road. Never fear, Sigma Sports’s quick and easy guide on how to replace an inner tube will have you back rolling in no time.
What you will need
Obviously, a spare inner tube is a must. Normally we recommend carrying two tubes just in case. If you are riding challenging terrain, (cobbled or dirt roads), then three spare tubes may be in order.
You'll also need two tyre levers and a means of inflation. A CO2 canister is the fastest and easiest way to inflate your inner tube, however, even riders with a CO2 inflator should carry a mini pump just in case you have a misfire. You do not want to be the person hoping to flag down a passing cyclist because you accidentally blew your CO2 load and have no other means of pumping up your inner tube.
Other useful but not essential kit includes tyre boots and adhesive patches. Tyre boots can be used to temporarily plug tears or holes in your tyres and adhesive patches are good for when you have run out of tubes and need to repair the ones you have already punctured. Both of these items are very small, so stuffing them in your saddle bag or jersey pocket is not going to negatively affect your quest for marginal gains.
① Remove your wheel
If you have punctured the rear tyre, shift into the lowest possible gear as this will make aligning the chain much easier when you come to put the wheel back in. Also, make sure to undo your brake quick release so that the wheel can be more easily removed.
② Remove one side of the tyre from the rim
This is where your tyre levers come into play. Use the curved end of the tyre lever and squeeze it between the edge of the tyre and the rim. Then lever the tyre up and over the rim to free it. It is normally easiest to start from the opposite side of the tyre from the valve.
Place the second tyre lever roughly two inches across from the one you already have in the rim and repeat the process. This should hopefully free the tyre from the rim, allowing you to move the lever all the way around the circumference so half of the tyre is separated from the rim. The hook end of the lever is designed to clip onto your spokes, helping to free a spare hand.
③ Remove the inner tube
Remove this valve first, from inside the tyre. Now for the perilous part. If your inner tube exploded with a loud and glorious bang then finding the hole that caused the puncture should not be too difficult.
If the tube deflated slowly, however, you will need to check if what caused the puncture is still wedged in the tyre. Carefully, run your finger along the inside of the tyre to feel for anything sharp. Without stating the obvious, if whatever caused your inner tube to puncture is sharp enough to pierce the rubber of your tyre it is likely sharp enough to do some damage to your finger, so carry out this process carefully.
Once you have found the culprit remove it and make sure the hole that is left is not big enough to cause a pinch flat. If it is, use a tyre boot to temporarily plug the hole. Unfortunately, a large hole will likely mean the tyre needs replacing.
④ Fit your new inner tube
First, pump in a very small amount of air using your mini pump to the new inner tube. Use new tube's box or elastic band to neatly wrap up your old inner tube so you can repair or discard it when you get home.
The small amount of air in the tube will make it easier to fit it in the tyre and reduce the likelihood of pinch flats. Next, place the valve through the valve hole and fit the tube inside the tyre, taking note not to twist the tube.
⑤ Fitting the tyre back onto the rim
We recommended that you do this by hand by pushing the tyre back over the rim. In time-sensitive situations or when the tyre is particularly stubborn a tyre lever can be used to prise the tyre back onto the rim but be extra careful not to trap the inner tube between the tyre and the rim or pinch the tube.
⑥ Ensure the tyre is seated
Inspect the entire circumference of the rim, making sure the tube is fully inside the tyre and not wedged between the rim and the tyre as this will cause the tube to explode when you come to inflate it.
⑦ Start Inflating
As a pro tip, it’s best to inflate the inner tube a little bit and then make sure the tube and tyre are correctly sitting on the rim before finishing off inflation. This is often easier said than done as CO2 inflators can rapidly inflate your tyre in a blink of an eye.
Also, be cautious not to place your fingers too close to the valve or inflator head when you are using a CO2 inflator. The rapid decompression of carbon dioxide from your canister will cause your valve and possibly the inflator head to get extremely cold very quickly with a high chance of it giving you an unpleasant freeze burn.
⑧ Fit your wheel
Once you are satisfied that your tyre is properly inflated, place your wheel back in your frame, tighten both the wheel and brake quick releases and away you go. All of this will likely only take about two minutes and with a bit of practice, you can shave you inner tube replacement down to around a minute.