A week after I completed the London Marathon, I am back on the bike for my clubs annual Ashby 100-mile cycle. But being back on the bike I always have two worries, One, not being knocked off and ending up in a ditch, and two, hoping I don’t get a puncture because the thought of changing a tyre is daunting especially if it ever happens on my tubeless tyres which means either putting in an inner tube or taking the wheel to a bike shop to be filled and repaired. Instead of carrying a saddle bag on my aero bike (for weight purposes) I just wing it hoping Fatboy can do it for me, of course, I jest. If you ride a bike especially solo you need to learn so here’s my beginners guide to changing an inner tube. Special thanks to my friend Fenboy aka Paul for demonstrating midway through a 60-mile ride recently.
The TyreKye - A Godsend!
How to change an inner tube.
THE most important part, pause the ride, take a selfie, post it up on social media and wait for your cycling friends to turn it into banter fest or offers of help. Meanwhile, make sure you have taken yourself and your bike away from the side of the road into a safe place. Fumble in the saddle bag for an inner tube (finding an old plaster and a mini pack of Haribo you forgot was in there) find your tyre lever, multitool (allen key set) and your pump and make sure your valve is the correct size for your tyre.
- Open the brake calliper (this widens the brake block to be able to take the wheel off). Loosen the quick release wheel nut, or remove through-axel and remove the wheel from the bike. If it’s the rear wheel, manually pull back the spring of the rear derailleur to loosen the chain. But you probably know this already.
- With the wheel free insert the tyre lever under the edge of the tyre wall (that faces you) and lift the lever up so that the tyre loosens from the rim and then run the lever all the way around the tyre wall but don’t take the tyre off the wheel rim, just leave it loose. Check for any splinters, shards or tears, looking inside and running your fingers over the tyre. If so, you will need to patch it up as well as the tube.
- Pop the valve of the tube out through the wheel hole and pull the tube out and stuff it in the back of your jersey and later recycle it. With the new inner tube check that the valve is untightened so the air can be pumped in. Fill with only a tiny bit of air so the tube isn’t floppy and prepare for the fun part, getting it back on the wheel. Be careful as you insert the inner tube inside the tyre (that is still loosely on the wheel) and start by pushing the valve back inside the hole in the wheel rim and pushing the tube in position, once in place start pummelling the tyre around the rim using your hands. As you get more of the tyre around the wheel the harder it becomes and that’s when the magic of the TyreKey Lever comes in handy. A new product on the market that guarantees to be a ‘no pinch’ tool. Hooking the lever under the remaining tyre work it back inside the rim, obviously still being careful that your inner tube is not bulging out and just like that, the tube and tyre is back on the wheel. Using a gas filled or manual pump inflate the tyre to your desired psi. If by this point you have run out of gas or patience then hope by random act of luck that someone has a track pump hiding in a patch of grass nearby (this actually happened on aforementioned ride- true story) and if all fails and you run out of patience, inner tubes and gas canisters call the nearest bike shop and hope they can offer a solution.
When your tyre is inflated, place it back on the bike and remember to close the brake callipers.
- If you are fixing the front tube remember to make sure the wing nut is the same side as the rear wheel wing nut otherwise you will soon discover you have no rotation or grip
If you manage to do all of this on your own then give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the satisfaction of a happy and apprehensive ride home. If you manage to do this for a friend, coffee, cakes and bacon are on them, for how long, depends on the efforts and time taken and hereby includes said treat for all those on the ride suffering the wait (although secretly they don’t mind as checking their notifications and uploading photos takes the mind off getting cold).
So, there you have it, how to change a tyre. I hope this doesn’t happen to me on my next ride but if it does, I will be taking my own advice and referring back to this blog post…
Until your next ride, stay inflated.