I'm 16 this year and I commute to school on a regular basis on a second-hand Urata Avanteguarde (about 2-3 years old.) I kept getting flats on my rear tire, but by the time I has isolated the problem to a needle sized puncture in my inner tubing, I had already torn my tire beyond repair. I've already bought a replacement tire, but i wonder if it is completely necessary to replace the inner tubing? If not, what are the risks of doing so ?

I am relatively new to road bikes, so I do apologise in advance if there is anything I'm missing out, or if this is a stupid question in general.

  • There are relatively few scenarios (other than continuing to ride on a flat) where a bad inner tube can cause damage to a reasonably sound tire. Jan 14 '17 at 4:38
  • I always attempt to patch my tubes. They work just as well as new tubes, and are a lot cheaper. Thick patches on MTB tubes, and thin ones on road tubes. The exceptions might be a big gash (but I patched it with a home made patch cut from a dead tube) or a dead valve (but you might be able to swap cores)
    – Criggie
    Jan 14 '17 at 19:05

Some terminology first.

  • TUBE is the doughnut-shaped ring that holds the air (inner tube)
  • TYRE/TIRE is the bit with the tread, and on your bike this holds the tube in place.

So you got several punctures in the tube caused by something sharp in the tire

You damaged the tire somehow and have a replacement. Now you've removed the sharp thing from the tire, and you want to know if the tube needs replacing ?

ANSWER Probably not. If the tube holds the air pressure its fine. If the tire has worn tread (ie to the point you're through the rubber and riding on the threads, or if it feels really thin to your fingers) or if the tire has a cut or significant hole, then replace it.

I'd recommend you throw a spare tube in your schoolbag, along with a mini-pump and tire levers if you need them, and a tool for your axle nuts if required. This will let you change tube on the side of the road, and patch it at home later.

Replacing the rear tyre should reduce the frequency of punctures too. The rear wheel suffers punctures about twice as fast as the front wheel.

Also, you might consider avoiding things that generate punctures too - which means not hopping kerbs/curbs, not bouncing through potholes, and going around patches of glass on the road/cycleway.

  • 2
    Yeah, generally you should carry a spare inner tube or two or three. When you get a puncture, rather than attempting to repair the tube on the road, swap in a spare, the repair the tube when you get home. But always attempt to determine what caused the hole before installing a new/repaired tube -- if there is something stuck in the tire you need to remove it. Jan 14 '17 at 4:36

If the puncture is small, you could try patching it. You should always check if there are any more punctures and patch them all.

This is, of course, unless there are just too many, and then yes, you should change the tubes.

The inner tubes are what actually hold the air pressure, so if it has punctures, they must be patched.

  • 2
    Patching done at home in the warm and dry, using the sort of patches that require a tube of glue, is very successful. I save up times to do a batch at a time because the glue dries up once opened.
    – Chris H
    Jan 14 '17 at 12:47

Since you're new to this, and already got a replacement tire, I'd suggest you also replace the tube to get them both a fresh start. Inner tubes are reasonably cheap. You can also get a more sturdy, somewhat less puncture prone tube if you'd like.

Be sure to clean the rims well prior to installation. Run your fingers through gently inside to feel for any sharp edges, cover the inside of the rim to prevent spokes from poking the tube as this is a common possibility .

You can still repair the old tube to keep as a spare.

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