How To Change A Bike Tube

It’s one of the worst noises a cyclist can hear. The unmistakable “pffffffft…” that means air is leaking from one of your tubes. The bad news is that if your racing or trying to get somewhere quickly, you’re going to lose some time. The good news is that replacing a tube is an easy fix for even the non-mechanically inclined rider.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to installing a new tube. The only tools you’ll need are a pair of tire levers and a pump.

  1. If it’s not already 100-percent flat, completely deflate your punctured tube to make it easier to remove. It will have either a Presta valve or a Schrader valve (like what’s on your car). For a Presta valve, unscrew the end and then push it in to deflate. For a Schrader valve, depress the center pin. 

  2. Once fully deflated, wiggle the tire back and forth until you feel it break free from the hook of the rim. Next use a tire lever to remove one side of the tire. Start on the opposite side of the valve stem, placing the hook of the tire lever between the rim and the bead of the tire. Now, as the name suggests, lever the bead off the hook of the rim. 

  3. Depending on how tight the fit is between tire and rim, you may be able to just push the lever away from you all the way around the rim, pulling the tire off. If the tire is on too tight, most levers have a hook that can be attached to a spoke to keep it in place. Then take your second tire lever, and repeat the steps above until the first bead is completely off. With one bead off you can pull out the punctured tube.

  4. Next try to figure out what caused the puncture. A common mistake is to put a new tube in without first examining the tire. If you do have a thorn or piece of glass in your tire and it’s still there, you’ll get another puncture when you inflate the new tube. It’s also a good idea to put some air in the old tube and see where air is leaking from. It’s usually either a single puncture hole or a pinch flat, which looks like two small bite marks. If it is a puncture, it’s very important to check the tire and make sure the sharp object is not still lodged in it.

  5. Take your new tube and slightly inflate it. This makes it easier to install because it has a little shape. Next insert the tube valve stem into the valve hole and then push the tube into the rim cavity.

  6. Now put the bead back in, making sure that you don’t get the tire in between the bead and the rim, which can cause a pinch flat when you re-inflate it. Start at the valve stem, and push the tire back under the rim hook. When you get to the final 2-3 inches it can get a harder to push the tire in. To mediate this, push the tire into the middle of the rim. This will give you a little more room to get the tire to go on. If you still can’t get it one by hand, use your lever to push the tire the rest of the way on.

  7. Now re-inflate your tire. Start slowly, adding 30-40 psi for road or 15-20 for mountain bike tires, then stop and make sure the bead of the tire is securely seated onto the rim. Give the wheel a spin and check for any dips or deviations. If you see something irregular, the tire is not seated properly and you need to deflate the tube and give it another wiggle, trying to get the tire to evenly seat on the rim.

  8. Once everything looks good, inflate the tire to the manufacturer’s recommended psi, which you’ll find on the sidewall of the tire.

If you have any questions about changing tube, call the Performance Bicycle Spin Doctor product support line at 1-800-553-TECH. Happy riding.


Tires, Tubes and Wheels