I got a flat/puncture on my bike tube, how can I fix it myself without going to the nearest bike shop? What kind of equipment would I need?
Replacing a tire isn't that hard, but it will take a few times for it to seem like second-nature. If you have a road bike with skinny high-pressure tires, you can expect that the tires will be harder to remove and replace.
This is how I do it on my touring bike, offroad bikes, cruiser, and folding bikes. You'll need a pump to match the valves used on your bike (presta or schrader), a spare tube, and a place to work. Tire levers would be quite helpful.
- Deflate the tire (if it isn't already completely flat).
- Remove the wheel from the bike. This will probably require that you disconnect the brakes (if you have rim brakes, as the vast majority of bikes do). If your bike doesn't have a quick-release hub, you'll need a wrench for this.
- Remove the tire from the wheel, if possible with the tube still inside. You may need a tire lever for this; it's a small plastic dookickey you can get in any bike store for a few bucks, usually in sets of three. You use it to pry the tube over the rim by working the edge of a tire lever under the edge of the tire and prying it over the edge of the rim, then sliding the edge of the tire around the edge of the rim; the tube should pop off when you've completed a circle. Two or three levers makes working with high-pressure tires easier. Once one edge of the tire is off, pull the whole tire and tube off the wheel in the direction of the side you were working with the tire lever, starting on the side of the tire opposite the valve. (Using a flathead screwdriver for this is not advised, as this can scratch the edge of the rim, potentially damaging the wheel. With some lower-pressure tires (such as mountain bikes or children's bikes) you may be able to remove the tire from the rim with no tools at all.)
- Search for the object that made the puncture, and remove it. This may be a thorn, or a nail, or a piece of glass, but whatever it is will likely be sharp, so be careful! You may have to feel around with your fingertips, or submerge the tube in water and look for rising bubbles, or even turn the tire inside out. If you replace the tube without finding the object that caused the flat you may well get another flat. (If no cause for the flat is presenting itself, you may be getting a flat from the rim itself or a spoke poking the tube.)
- Get your spare tube and put a little air in it, just enough to place it on the rim. Put it on the tube, with the valve poking through the valve hole in the rim.
- Replace the tire over the tube, pinching the tire to be sure that it's not pinching the tube as you inflate the tube inside the tire. Be careful that the tire is inflating evenly; the first few times you do this, you may want to inflate it a little at a time and check as you go.
- Once the tire is inflated, re-install it on the bike, and please make sure to tighten your quick-release and hook your brakes back up.
- Get back on your bike and enjoy your (for now) shiny new tire!
Watching a video or seeing pictures probably makes this all seem simpler; the other answers provided links to these resources. Bonus: More information that you'll ever need to know about tires and how to replace them: What Every Cyclist Should Know About Flat Tires
Just go grab yourself a tube repair kit. They usually come with a few patches, some rubber cement, and something to scuff up the rubber of the tube. Next, scuff up the tube around the puncture so that the cement can stick. Apply the cement around the puncture and make sure to let it dry. Then put the patch on and apply plenty of pressure for about a minute or so.
Go buy yourself a repair kit for about £5-6 pounds. These would include the following:
1) Tyre levers - something to remove the tyre !! 2) Repair patches 3) Emery cloth - To roughen up the tube surface. 4) Tube of glue.
If you haven't got quick release wheels, make sure you take something to undue the wheels nuts. I learnt this the hard way when I first started riding my fixed wheel.
I find that the easiest way to deal with this problem is to just carry a spare tube around with you so you can quickly get back on the road. Then you can patch the punctured tube when you get home. You are also covered in cases where the tube cannot be patched, like if the valve itself breaks.
Regardless of whether you choose to patch or just replace the punctured tire, you should definitely feel and look for sharp objects along the inside and outside edges of the tire before inflating the new tube inside the tire. Just yesterday I had a flat which was caused by a small piece of glass which I could not feel on the inside of the tire, as it was just barely poking through from the outside. Very often, the object which caused the flat may be embedded somewhere in the tire, and if you don't properly remove it, you'll find yourself fixing another flat tire very quickly.
My answer to flat tires was pretty simple. I added a bottle of Joe's No Flat into each tire (tube). I have been flat free for at least six months and about 3-4,000kms. Sort of a minor miracle of sorts. I live and ride in Thailand and the surrounding countries which all suffer from lots of sharp trash, glass, thorns, nails etc along the highways just waiting to puncture a bike tire. I have Shrader valves in my tires which makes installing the sealant easy as you can remove the valve core and just squeeze in the liquid sealant. Presta valves present a bigger problem as you cannot normally remove the valve core. My solution to this dilemma would be to replace the tube with a Shrader valve and drill out the rim to accept the larger valve.
I really recommend the park tool glueless 'Super Patch' - so much less faff, and all you need to carry are the tyre levers and the patches. No cementing, no sandpapering, you just stick it straight on. It Just Works.
(I do not work for Park tool.)