The Way of the Innertube - aka - How to fix a flat tire with your shoelace
When it comes to fixing a flat tire I suggest first contemplating your philosophy towards life. The theory of the flat tire is simple, the reality can be maddening to the unprepared. Yet, there are many paths to your goal. In this article I hope to guide your journey and help you to learn The Way.
This article is a complete guide to flat tire repair for anyone from the beginners to experts. There is no 'one size fits all' method here, instead I have brought together a wide range of best practices and some ideas to help you decide what is best for you. Even if you already know how to fix a flat, there is much here for you:
- How to fix a flat tire - the standard method - videos
- How to fix a flat tire - with only a smile
- Understanding how flats happen on real bikes, not brand new $3,000 bikes.
- How to remove a tire without levers
- How to patch a tire without patches
- How to inflate a tire without a pump
- How to check tire pressure without a gauge
- How to fix a rim without rim tape
This article is sponsored by Momentum Magazine and MonkeyLectric. An edited version of the article appears in Momentum Issue 49
Step 1: The Responsible Rider
Becoming a Responsible Rider:
1. Around the web there are hundreds of videos and instructions about fixing flat tires written by Experts. I spent about 5 hours weeding through the endless fuzzy, grainy, mumbling amateur videos so that you don't have to. Here's the 5 best ones.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER FIXED A FLAT BEFORE, GO WATCH THESE VIDEOS FIRST!
2. Always carry your Trusty Toolkit when biking. I recommend the following: 2 plastic tire levers, innertube patches, a mini-size pump and a bike multi-tool. Your bike shop can hook you up with all this stuff and it will fit easily into any backpack or handbag.
2b. You may prefer a spare innertube instead of patches – its bigger but you don’t have to spend any time finding holes in a popped tube. Carry patches even if you have a spare tube.
2c. If you have an old or beat up bike, i'd also recommend a roll of fabric sports tape. This can be used to repair flat-causing problems in the rim and the tire - both of which commonly cause flats on a junker bike.
3. PRACTICE!!! Practice changing your innertube and using patches a couple times at home before venturing out into the world beyond. Use the videos above for help. Try both front and rear wheels. There is nuance to this process. You don’t want to be figuring out what does and doesn’t work in a rainy bus stop late at night.