How to Fix a Flat

by League of American Bicyclists

  1. Remove wheel
    • Front: undo brake then wheel quick release and remove
    • Rear: shift into smallest cog in rear, undo brake then hub quick release; remove
    • Rear: set bike upside down on handlebars and seat before opening hub quick release

    Undo Brakes.
    Undo Wheel Quick Release.
    Undo Rear Wheel.

  2. Deflate tire
    • Remove remaining air by depressing valve
    • Schraeder is larger, spring loaded valve and must be depressed; car style valve
    • Presta is all-metal, air sprung narrow valve; unscrew then press

  3. Remove one side of tire from rim
    • Using Tire Irons Unseat Tire.
    • Using tire levers, unseat one side of tire; start away from valve stem
    • For tight rim/tire combinations, multiple tire levers are needed; do not use metal levers
    • Many mountain and hybrid bikes tires will come off by hand; practice at home

  4. Remove tube
    • Remove tube from tire; avoid valve damage by starting away from valve
    • Keep tube and tire in same relative position to each other to aid in finding puncture
    • Inspect tube for hole; mark for patching or use your spare tube for replacement

  5. Inspect inside of tire
    • Check Inside of Tire for Glass, Nails,...
    • Feel inside of tire for cause of flat; use caution as cause may puncture your finger
    • Remove thorn, glass, staple, nail or whatever caused your flat
    • Inspect tire for damage caused by flat

  6. Install new or patched tube
    • After repairing damaged tube or retrieving spare, inflate tube to give it round shape
    • Fold back tire to allow access to valve hole; insert valve first then tube into tire
    • For presta valve, screw valve closed and install valve nut loosly against rim

  7. Reseat tire bead
    • Start reseating tire by hand at valve hole; work in both directions
    • Push valve partially back through rim to insure proper seating of tire bead
    • Visually inspect tire bead to insure proper tire seating on rim

  8. Inflate tire
    • Inflate tire slowly, checking for bulges which might indicate improper bead seating on rim
    • Deflate if bulge occurs; carefully re-inspect and reseat bead on rim
    • Inflate to desired pressure

    Check that Tire Seats Properly.
    Carefully Not to Put Pressure on Valve.

  9. Install on bike
    • Front: install wheel; tighten hub quick release and attach brakes; make sure it is straight
    • Rear: install wheel by placing chain on top and bottom of small cog
    • Rear: push pulley closest to you forward; drop hub down into frame and tighten

  10. Ride away
    • Check brake and hub quick releases; make sure that tire does not rub brakes or frame
    • Check rear derailleur to make sure that shifting is still smooth
    • If anything is wrong, the wheel is probably crooked; make sure wheels are in straight

Reprinted from "Better Bicycling Fact Sheets" of the League of American Bicyclists.
For more information about the League of American Bicyclists, visit their web site,, or e-mail them at

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