Introduction: Instant Bike Tire Repair - No Tools!

Picture of Instant Bike Tire Repair - No Tools!

This is a butt-saving trick! Thanks to Mars for teaching me in the nick of time!

Do you ever get a flat tire while you're in a bike shop, right there with all your tools? No! You get flat tires on the road, just off the highway near the intersection of "Middle of Nowhere" and "Most Inconvenient Place to Get a Flat".

I got this flat in Lynnfield, MA, seven miles from the nearest bike shop, while biking to Montreal from Boston. Seven miles is a long walk!

What did I learn?
1) check the tire before you go to a bike store. If it's just a puncture, patch it.
2) carry a patch kit.
3) if the problem is worse, take the tire off the bike and take it to the bike store with you
4) quick-release bike tires. Always.
5) it's awesome to know how to replace a bike tire without tire irons! Don't waste money on tire irons!
6) better than going to the bike store: carry a spare tube!

Do most people carry bike tools? The answer to that is also no!
Here's why you don't have to!

Step 1: Take Off the Wheel With the Flat.

Picture of Take Off the Wheel With the Flat.

If you don't have quick-release tires, you'll use a wrench

Step 2: Remove the Rubber

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take off the tire and the old tube

Step 3: The Tubes!

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Inflate the new tube slightly with your mouth or your pump, and slip it over the old rim.

Check this out - Rite Aid sells both bike tubes and wrenches. SO CONVENIENT!

Step 4: Tire ON, No Tire Irons

Picture of Tire ON, No Tire Irons

Put the tire on completely around the rim.

Use your thumbs to press the edge of the tire up over the rim.

Work towards your chest, at first. When you're almost done, turn the tire so you can push away from you.

Do one side first, then flip the tire and do the other.

At the very end of the second side, it'll get a bit tough, but if you press through and really apply effort, it'll pop on.

Step 5: Inflate, Ride, Repeat

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Find a bike pump, use a gas station's pressurized air, or a barrel-chested human with the nickname "Lungs" and a one-way valve for a mouth.

Step 6: Avoid Bike Traps

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Here's the trap that gave me the flat.

These lengthwise grates are the perfect size for your bike tire to slip into. My back tire had a lot of weight on it, and popped.

Watch out for broken glass, sharp stuff, etc.!


fromeira (author)2014-11-17

Nice. Althougth it doesn´t work so simple in every tire type.

jcbarnhart (author)2014-07-21

Thank's for the instructable - Just a note:

This might be more accurate if entitled: "Bike Tire CHANGING made simple".
As you have not repaired, but rather changed it.

J Charles B

goodgnus (author)2012-10-31

Tire irons (or levers as I call them) are awesome. My advice would be don't go without them! They make life much easier. I'm a shop mechanic and I never change a tube without them. We use Pedro's levers which have a lifetime warranty and can be had quite cheap, less than $5 for a pair.

mjursic (author)2012-10-05

I am not able to do that without levers--my beads are very tight because I ride at very high pressure.

camp6ell (author)2008-05-31

not really seeing the difference between carrying tools (a little puncture repair kit) or carrying a new tube... both of which require a pump (or gas station if you are fortunate enough to have your flat near one) anyway... and one seems more wasteful than the other...

The nerdling (author)camp6ell2012-07-15

that reminds me of something........
a while ago, i went bike riding with my school, the teachers tire POPPED!!!!!!
huge gash in the tube and tire, put in a spare and pumped it up at a gas station, and at 10psi, BANG another pop

Esmagamus (author)camp6ell2009-08-21

Have a "instant puncture repair" can. It won't be good for all punctures but it will replace the pump after you've repaired/switched the inner tire. It's faster.

drøn (author)camp6ell2008-06-01

i have a tube with me. flat, change tube, keep tupe, repair at home /drøn

stasterisk (author)camp6ell2008-05-31

not all popped tires are fixable with a patch kit. I'm impatient and don't want to wait for rubber cement to set, on the road. So I carry a new tube. Yeah, you need some way of putting air in your tires. There's no way around that.

ak08820 (author)2012-07-05

I don't get the title of this article - "Instant Bike Tire Repair - No tools!"
How do you get the tire off without tire irons (which are tools) and the wheel off without a wrench (which is also a tool) if you don't have QR axles? Where do you find the pump?

If you are trying to say that this so called trick is to replace the tube instead of patching it, the title is incorrect and misleading.

And, if you have the spare tube wrench, pump and tire irons, might as well remember to carry a couple of patches and a tiny tube of rubber cement.

wblack3 (author)2011-09-26

Never understood why they put the grates that way 'round. Why can't they be put so the slots run at right angles to the road?

Prodromal the professor (author)2011-05-23

I never have flat tires, because I armor them with a second tire inside. most people think this is too heavy, yet it has been prooven that heavy tires produce more momentum.

Obvuisly if your drag racing it is not good, unles you have a motor. But for cruzing to work it works fine.

Unfortunatly this method only works on big tires.

velojym (author)2011-04-06

Dan speaks truth. Bikes, wheels, and tires vary widely, and some will be far easier to manage than others.
For instance, the tires on my wife's Trek road bike are quite easy to remove and replace, though I'm very careful to ensure that the bead is set while airing them up. On my Kona, on the other hand, my tires *will* go on without tools, but they are a bit stiff. The whole point of proper tools is to make tasks safer and easier for you as well as the equipment you're working on.
I've handled many a flat for many different bikes, having carried a trunk bag full of tools and parts as mechanical support for several of my club's century rides. Nearly all of the problems happen in the first few miles, by the way.
I've had a few flats of my own, and can fix them quickly enough that I don't consider it worthwhile to fill my tires with snot. Liners, perhaps, for a heavier utility bike would be fine I suppose.

sharlston (author)2009-10-14

hey i use something called slime you simply fill both of your tires with it and get no punctures
and its really cheap

Yeah, The "Slime" inner tubes are also pretty nice.

knektek (author)skaterqwertyuiop2010-11-16

They sell those 'slime' inner tubes at the raleigh shop, the only downfall is that its hard for me to pump because slime keeps on shooting out.

Patrik (author)2008-05-18

To be fair, you only show how to get the tire back *on* the wheel, which is typically the easiest part.

Tire levers are most useful to get the tire *off*, and are actually not recommended to get it back on, because you can pinch the inner tube that way.

I'd love to see some tips for getting the tire off without levers though...

stasterisk (author)Patrik2008-05-18

really?? I found getting the tire off the wheel to be trivial! I do have a picture of that step - it's a cinch when the tire's totally flat.

dan (author)stasterisk2010-10-31

it varies a lot due to small variations in rim sizes and tire sizes. some are easy and some are impossible.

Patrik (author)stasterisk2008-05-18

If you watch BicycleTutor's video, you'll see that he uses the tire irons only to get the tire off the wheel.

I have to admit I've never even tried without irons! The irons (well, "plastics" nowadays) are stored in my patch kit anyway, so back when I still did a lot of biking I never got stuck with a patch and glue, but no irons. :-)

Getting the tire back on by hand is typically not too hard, as you show. BicycleTutor show a little googad that looks like it might be useful for heavier tires.

Nice pictures, by the way! Don't you just hate those grates? Having grown up in a bicycle-friendly country, I'm astonished by the lack of consideration for bikes here sometimes...

stasterisk (author)Patrik2008-05-18

See the second picture of step 2. If it's not clear, I'll add more photos

wobbler (author)2010-10-29

Another trick to getting the tyre back on is to spit on the rim where you get to the last bit. If you're at home, you can use a dab of washing up liquid.

kurzundknapp (author)2010-09-13

Well, the Inst. was a bit something other than "No Tools". You just described how to replace a tire in the "normal" way on the road. Nothing new to it. But very nicely done! :)

Besides repairing a tire without any tools is possible. The only thing you need is a little bit of milk. Take some in your mouth and then slowly try to fill it in the tire throught the outlet. Once it's in, rotate the tire to spread the milk inside it. This way the proteins in the milk will solidify and seal the little holes. Naturally this isn't possible if you got some big holes in the tire but for the little ones, it works quite well.

VagsmaCutter (author)2009-11-22

Good job both on the instructable and your trip to Montreal! Sounds like an adventure. Anyway, since you have presta valves/ tires I wouldn't expect you to include include tips for Schraders. But many people prefer them over prestas especially when you need to use compressed air from a gas station. It's been a while, but I'm fairly certain that gas stations usually don't have a presta fitting. Anyway, if you were to ainclude Schrader's, I would say to make sure that the valve stem is sticking straight out of the rim or pointed directly at the hub/axle before refilling the tire or the rim can slit the stem. Of course, if you don't want to worry about which type of valve is better just get tires that are sewn on. The broken rack was icing on the cake, but it could have eaten the back spokes so it could have been much worse.

NightmarE (author)VagsmaCutter2010-03-13

Presta valves have a kind of adapter that you screw on so you can use pumps (just like schraders) I ride using prestas all the time cause I have 700c high profile rims.
I hope I could have been a help.

Yerboogieman (author)2009-09-04

Today when i took a tire off of another bike to put on my bike, i accidentally filled it up too much, (The tire came off the rim and the inner tube bulged out the side.) It literally sounded like a gun firing. A BIG gun. Everyone came out of their house. Running. This was right after, sitting in my room, i hear a loud pop, and my bike falling over. I hate fixing bikes. I hate paying other people to fix my bike, them make it worse along the way.

sharlston (author)Yerboogieman2009-10-14

need any help with bikes just pm me ill help you

jos o mi (author)2008-05-22

After you remove the tire, (carefully) run your thumb underneath the tire tread to feel for whatever punctured the tube. You can also inflate the punctured tube to identify the source of the puncture. Remove whatever penetrated the tire tread. If you don't do this, you may find yourself repeating steps 3-6 until your supplies run out.

Esmagamus (author)jos o mi2009-08-21

Last time I had a popped tire, the spine was so big I left it there. I had no tools and that kept the air in! :P

Esmagamus (author)2008-06-16

I've never had a flat tire. It must be because I filled the tubes with foam instead of air when the bike was still new.

jimmy dean (author)Esmagamus2009-08-20

How did you do that?

Esmagamus (author)jimmy dean2009-08-21

There's a "instant puncture repair" spray. It comes in a can, usually red, that has a length of hose that tightens on the valve. You press the button and white foam fills the tire. It doesn't get solid but it does coat the inner tube. If you get a small puncture (like I did), you'll see the foam squirting from the hole. You just have to hold your finger over the puncture a few seconds and the puncture is sealed. I did 40 km after I had two punctures at the same time. It's a lot better than walking back home!

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-05-18

Good job! I bought myself some tire liners and haven't had a flat since. I'd highly recommend getting some. Great job!

Pasketti (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-05-19

Oh yes. I got a pair of puncture-resistant tires. In the 2+ years I've been using them, I've had three flats. One was a big aluminum spike about two inches long, so I'll give them that one. Highly highly recommended.

Pasketti (author)2008-05-19

I got a Crank Brothers Speed Lever instead of the traditional set of three tire irons. See here:

YOU might be able to get the tire off and on without tools, but mine are just a little too tight to manage it. But the speed lever just pops it right off and pops it right back on again.

I also carry a spare tube AND a patch kit, just in case.

TheScientist (author)2008-05-18

if you're just patching the tube, then you don't even need to take the wheel off the bike if you're careful :) although that does make it harder to remove/put back the tyre. also if i may make a suggestion: check the tyre itself for any sharp debris that may have been lodged in it (i.e. a piece of glass) otherwise in a couple of hundred metres you'll be stopping and repeating the process! good 'ible!

walterr (author)2008-05-18

To get the tire off with only your hands : You grab the tire in one fist and twist it sideways as if you want to tear it off from the wheel. That doesn't work of course. Then with your free hand you squeeze the tire to the middle part of the wheel, where the diameter is at its smallest. Start at the opposite side of your first hand. If necessary you can switch hands to squeeze the the tire on the other half of the wheel. Doing so, you get enough reserve to actually flip the tire from the wheel. O yes, if there's a nut on the valve, release it, and push the valve halfway inwards. hope this is of any help :)

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