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What is the best/easiest way to get the tyre back on to a rim after removing it to fix a puncture for example?

Some tyres can be really hard to get back on to the rim. I don't like using the tyre levers as I usually end up pinching the inner tube and making another hole. I can usually do it with just my fingers and thumbs but it takes a lot of time and effort (and sore thumbs).

Note, this is for a 26" mountain bike wheel with inner tube.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It depends on where you are and the conditions. Youtube has some video's, such as this one:

My little tip is:

  1. Have the tube slightly inflated before putting the tyre around it.
  2. Have the tyre completely off the rim.
  3. Put the tube into the tyre, having first made sure that there are no foreign objects in the tyre first. 3a. It may not be the case, but check to make sure the tyre is going to rotate in the correct direction when mounted on the wheel. You should see an arrow close to the brand name of the tyre indicating the direction.
  4. Pinch the bead of the tyre together and introduce it to the rim at the point where the valve goes through the rim. Put the valve through.
  5. Start sliding the bead over the rim, keeping the tyre firmly pressed into the rim by placing the part of the tyre already in against your crotch.
  6. Work both sides up until it becomes very difficult.
  7. Defalte the tube and apply some washing up liquid to the rest of the bead left to be mounted.
  8. Keeping the bead tightly together, slide the tyre onto the rim using your thumbs or fingers only.
  9. Pinch the sidewalls of the tyre and make sure that a pinch has not occurred. Go round the whole tyre to make sure it ok.
  10. Inflate the tube until the tyre is seated in the rim.
  11. Check once more that the tyre is seated correctly and if possible try to make sure that no other pinches exist.
  12. Make sure that when the wheel is spun that no bumps are present in the sidewall or tyre surface. Make sure the tyre thread runs true.
  13. Fully inflate the tyre to correct pressure.
  14. Spin once more to check for problems. Ping the tyre to hear that lovely sound :)
  15. Mount the wheel and off you go!
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Very nice clear instructions. I pretty much cover most of those steps but steps #7 and #8 are the ones I needed to know. I just need to remember the washing up liquid when I am out. It will help remove the grease from my hands and make them fluffy soft too :) –  Piers Myers Sep 28 '10 at 15:31
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Not sure about that YouTube video though, we don't get weather like that in the UK and there's no way she got the tyre back using levers without pinching the inner tube. 'You can also inflate your tube with your mouth if you don't have a pump' - yeah right! –  Piers Myers Sep 28 '10 at 15:46
    
@Pies Myers If you have skinny road tires with presta valves you might be able to use your mouth. Never tried it, curious to see if it's really effective enough to get you home. Also it should be emphasized that if you need to use tire levers you should use plastic ones. The metal ones are hard on the rims. –  krs1 Oct 21 '11 at 19:18

I use a little silicon grease on the rims and found it made a huge difference - when I was a car mechanic we always used a little tyre soap to make the tyre slip on to the rim more easily.

After a few comments, it would be wise to clean the rim after this with a degreasing agent.

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4  
I'd be concerned about affecting the braking surface if the tire was rim brakes. –  curtismchale Sep 28 '10 at 15:15
    
could be messy and as @curtismchale says, not good for the braking surface of rim brakes. But soap/washing up liquid could work. –  Piers Myers Sep 28 '10 at 15:34
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ah yeah - i forgot about that, its amazing how quickly you take disc brakes for granted! –  Mauro Sep 28 '10 at 15:43
    
yeah if it's on a disc go for it, just make sure you don't get any on the disc surface –  curtismchale Sep 29 '10 at 2:19

I usually make sure I have my cycling mittens on. I also put enough air into the tube so that I can push the tube inside of the tyre and in place on the rim all the way around. I then use my hands to put the tyre bead on the rim, rolling on left side and then the right side, starting at the valve and working to the opposite point. I also try to use the flesh on the base of my thumbs to do the hard rolling work. As I get close to having the complete tyre on, I let a little bit of air out of the tube, so that you release the pressure on the bead enough to get the last part on with your hands. In the really tight cases, I use just a single tyre lever just to the left of the furthest point to get the tyre moving in and then use my thumb for the very last "push". Since you has the tube inflated enough at the start to position it inside the tyre, you should find that you avoid pinching the tube.
Then inflate the tube just a little bit more, and go around looking at the inside of the rim and tyre join, looking to see if the tube is pinched by the tyre. The pressure needs to be low enough to be easy to push the tyre in as you go around by high enough to give the tyre some solid shape.
When you get confident enough about putting the tyre on, you can skip the slow check and just pump the wheel up to full pressure. Then look on both sides of the wheel at the line on the tyre just above the rim. This should be a nice and even distance from the rim, all the way around. If it goes towards the rim or away from the rim in any spot then you have a pinch and you need to let the pressure out the wheel pronto, before she blows!

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Perhaps you're doing it wrong. Maybe it's the type of tire levers you are using. The ones I use are made of plastic, and are quite thick. I don't think I've ever punctured a tube with the tire lever. For me, I find my tires are quite tight, and doing it by hand is impossible.

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For a road tyre you shouldn't need tyre levers to get the tire back on - you should be able to use your fingers –  mgb Sep 29 '10 at 2:16
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funny I've always had a harder time with road tires than I've ever had with the tire on my MTB. –  curtismchale Sep 29 '10 at 2:20
    
I have a "Hybrid" bike. So it has 700 mm tires, 32c width. I find that it's almost impossible to put a tire on without levers. –  Kibbee Sep 30 '10 at 1:25

The difficulty of getting the last bit of tire bead on is a factor of the rim and tire combined. Tight bead on tire and or tight spec on rim. One of the best tool free ways is to work the tire around as stated above (like putting the lid on tupperware) starting at the valve. Then the last bit should be rolled on using the top of the palm. A twist around the rim away from you. As if you were rolling a grip forward. This gives a more leverage than thumbs and does not risk pinching the tube with a tool, plastic or not.

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Slick Stick tire tool. There is no other answer.

A "Slick Stick" is a piece of nylon rod, about 1/2" diameter and 5 inches long, with notch at one end. You stick it into the gap between tire and rim, pry outward, and then slide the stick first one direction then the other to dismount the tire -- 30 seconds max. Reverse the operation to remount. Never a chance of a pinched tube.

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What is this? Care to elaborate? (As this is now, it's more of a comment than an answer.) –  Neil Fein Jun 30 '11 at 2:02
    
Until you've tried it, you can't appreciate it. A "Slick Stick" is a piece of nylon rod, about 1/2" diameter and 5 inches long, with notch at one end. You stick it into the gap between tire and rim, pry outward, and then slide the stick first one direction then the other to dismount the tire -- 30 seconds max. Reverse the operation to remount. Never a chance of a pinched tube. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 30 '11 at 11:13
    
(In a pinch I've done the same thing with a stiff toothbrush handle, but it doesn't work as well.) –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 30 '11 at 11:14
    
(Unfortunately, everyone and his brother has a product named Slick Stick, so you can't Google it (and it may no longer be made under that name). There is an identical-looking product called Quik Stik which may be the original or may be a knock-off.) –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 30 '11 at 11:22
    

I always use levers to get the tire off. Never to get it back on! You'll most likely pinch the tube if you do and have to start again.

The Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires are one of the most notoriously difficult tires to get on.
This youtube video shows you how to do it without levers and without hurting your hands or getting blisters.

You only need two toe straps or a similar strap, to push the tire bead into the well of the rim on the opposite side to the last bit of tire you're trying to get back onto the rim. As you'll see from the video, just keep working the tire bead into the well of the rim on the opposite side and you'll get it on, no problem.

This was a saviour for me, since before that I'd get blisters and sore hands and it could take me an hour to change the Marathon Plus. Now it takes me a little over 5mins, with no blisters or sore hands.

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That video is great! I wish I'd seen it before I installed my brand-new Marathons a couple of weeks ago; I pinched a tube and it exploded later that day. –  Neil Fein Aug 21 '11 at 0:27
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+1 "Getting the wire bead into the well of the rim.." that's the secret. Since constantly having to change my tires (see: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5312) I've now learnt from experience! –  Dog Ears Sep 29 '11 at 17:14
    
That video is really helpful. –  amcnabb May 8 '12 at 1:09

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